In the world of Frost, the new console-based deck-building game from Digerati Distribution and designer Jérôme Bodin, a deadly storm is always at your heels, swiftly limiting your options for survival. Managing your meager resources (food, materials, and survivors) is the only way to get to safety. The longer you take drawing and using your resources, the closer the storm approaches. With constant options and obstacles popping up in your path, this journey takes constant care and attention to complete successfully.
While deckbuilders – games designed to increase a base deck with new cards, thereby increasing play option – are old hat to the tabletop gaming world, having a solo deckbuilder on a console opens up new possibilities. Each turn, the player draws resource cards (including useless Fatigue cards) and attempts to make their way through the desolate landscape by discarding the amount of resources needed in the current biome. Other, more specialized cards may be purchased by the player, usually by removing base resources from their deck. In addition, perils or assistance arrives in each biome. The more turns the player spends dealing with these issues, the closer the storm gets. The player must make it through a set number of biomes in order to escape the storm.
Gameplay for Frost is very straightforward and is, honestly, not complex, nor does it need to be. The design of the game is where the true draw lies. The simple drawings of the characters and cards, all while having a quiet, snowy white background, intensifies the tension in the game. This is compounded by the dial at the top of the screen, showing the number of turns a player has before they are swallowed by the storm. The card icons take a bit of getting used to, particularly any that are crossed out with a red line, indicating the need to remove that card from the main deck. The Survivor and other card art are simplistic, but easily convey the game’s aesthetic.
This foray of the deckbuilder into the console world could signal a new wave of tabletop game ports to consoles. While most existing deckbuilders are meant for multi-player, Frost has created a new, quiet game that forces players to focus on the inevitable march of the storm, rather than a living opponent. For fans of tense, post-apoc games, this simple game gives a new perspective on the genre.