Game Spotlight

Wobbledogs First Impressions ”Is it worth playing?”

Welcome to another spotlight for a different game than Gwent. Today a new game called Wobbledogs is being released on Steam. We of Team Bandit Gang had a look at it and want to share our first impressions with you.

When you start your first game you will be given helpful tips & tricks regarding the game mechanics and you will start in a single room with a single Wobbledog. From this point on you can start feeding the dog and interact with it. Eventually you get a hatching machine in order to breed more Wobbledogs. Wait a minute, since when do dogs hatch from eggs?! Well, these are not conventional dogs but mutated ones and you better forget anything you learned about mammal anatomy in school. Because it’s not only the hatching from the eggs but also the metamorphosis in a cocoon when they grow up. It’s a bit weird in the beginning but you get used to this relatively quickly.

You can tell that the developer had a lot of fun creating this. In fact the breeding aspect is at least as important as the petting itself. By the choice of the diet for the dogs you influence their gut flora, which in return shapes out in the physical appearance of their kids. From then on you can mix and match these features as you like and unleash the creativity within this game. It’s a sandbox game after all.

Another aspect of this sandbox game is the creation of different rooms and decorate them as you like. You can create multiple rooms for your dogs to play in and give them different themes if you like. And if you are hesitant to do so, your Wobbledogs will change their surroundings anyway. For example by building a cave out of mud.

While playing alongside your Wobbledogs you also have challenges to complete. This way you can unlock new features to use. This includes decorations, flowers, carpets, wallpapers and then some. But generally speaking, this game remains very relaxed and slow paced so you can just have fun with these weird ass doggos.

Throughout today, our streamers will cover this new game on their respective channels on Twitch so feel free to stop by if you would like to check the game out! We had quite some fun playing it in advance and we hope that you might as well!

What do you think about Wobbledogs? Are you excited for it? What features are you looking forward to the most? Let us know in the comments down below!

Game Spotlight: Vault of the Void (Early Access), Bandit Gang’s First Look

Team Bandit is excited to present a first look into a new early access game: Vault of the Void. Akaean and Decode  discuss their thoughts on their experiences so far.

Introduction

Vault of the Void is an indie card-based roguelite developed by Spider Nest Games. True to its origins, it tells the age-old story of an adventurer spelunking into the darkness of a dungeon to expunge some greater evil.  In this case, the Void itself.  Along the way, you will collect cards, build your deck, collect a variety of powerful artifacts, and use everything at your disposal to survive the trials ahead. 

That old adage stemming all the way back to Dwarf Fortress is certainly relevant here.  Like most Roguelite games, Vault is a relatively short experience that relies on random generation and high difficulty to increase replayability.  Each trip through the dungeon may be similar, but no two trips through the dungeon will ever be the same.  Different cards in your decks, different ways to upgrade those cards, and even a variety of end-of-stage bosses that you can encounter along your journey add to the sense of novelty. The game also has multiple difficulty modes, allowing players to challenge themselves both through increasing the difficulty of the base game or through various “challenge coins” that add additional unique handicaps to change the game experience.

The game never ends, when your whole world depends, on the turn of a friendly card

Card games are a natural fit for roguelites- as we have seen with the success of other indie games such as Slay the Spire.  Vault of the Void is no different in this respect.  Randomness is part and parcel of the roguelite experience, indeed randomness is where the replayability of these games comes from.  Vault of the Void takes full advantage of this natural fit to create an enjoyable experience.  There is that element of randomness in what cards you find to put in your deck, what cards from your deck that you draw into your hand each turn, and what upgrades you have available throughout any given run will all change the experience and add to the replayability of the game.

Yet, like any good roguelite, what ties the experience together is the element of skill.  A good roguelite player is one who is adaptable, the skill to be able to meet whatever challenges lay ahead using anything and everything the game has given them to work with. 

Game Overview

Each run of Vault of the Void consists of progressing through two randomly generated floors, defeating the boss at the end of the floor, and a final boss rush.

Unlike many roguelites, Vault of the Void does not encourage exploration.  The game provides you with full information of what enemies are on the floor, and what loot you can find on that floor.  It will also show you what boss will be waiting for you at the end, so you can prepare as best as you can.  There is a hitch though, whenever you progress a tile, it will close off access to other tiles!  This means that a core part of the gameplay comes from planning a route through each floor of the dungeon.  Carefully picking and choosing based on what is available to be able to best meet the challenges ahead.

Path Building

The meat of the gameplay comes from the card battles.  The card mechanics are easy to learn but difficult to master.   The game uses a mana system where more powerful cards cost more mana to cast.  The player can generate additional mana by discarding cards that they don’t want to play, and at the beginning of the turn, some mana will be restored.  Cards have a variety of effects, such as dealing- or blocking- damage directly, applying buffs and debuffs, or even drawing additional cards.  Openers gain additional effects if they are the first card played, and Chain cards gain additional effects if they are played after other cards. 

Boss Fight

The monsters you face along your journey all approach the game from different angles.  Some of them have resistance to the various status effects in the game, others may buff themselves or debuff your character.  The game is open about the enemies you face, and even provides helpful hints.  This allows players to strategically make use of the resources they have and plan out their fights in advance.  If you are using a deck that makes use of a particular status effect, such as vulnerability, you can either purposefully avoid an enemy with an immunity or resistance to vulnerability, and maybe lose out on certain rewards in doing so, or you can use the cards and relicts you have found along the way to put together an alternate strategy to get through the encounter.  

Difficulty and Tactical Challenge

Vault of the Void offers a wide variety of intense difficulty modes and challenge modes to offer more and more challenging play experiences.   The game also offers a series of optional challenges, called challenge coins, which change the way that the game is played and offer unique strategic advantages and disadvantages.

There are three different characters that you can choose from, each with a unique playstyle and associated deck. These player character options are each generally focused around two or three keywords, and the cards in their deck are focused on these keywords as well.  This leads to a streamlined feel for each character with a bit of strategic depth in terms of how you use the keywords available to you.

The Hidden One, for instance, has a package of abilities associated with Bleeding. He is more targeted towards people learning the game, and applying direct damage and blocking direct damage.  The cards in the Hidden One’s deck focus on playing off Bleeding, his signature keyword.  There are cards that may apply a debuff to a bleeding enemy, or increase the ability to block an enemy with bleeding.   Each deck you build will test your limits to find combos and synergy with your chosen character’s keywords.

Switching decks Opportunity

The biggest limitation of this system is that it doesn’t allow a player to use cards from a “different” deck to build their characters in different ways.  If you don’t like the bleeding mechanic, there is no way to play without it when using the Hidden One.  You would need to use one of the other two characters. This can result in games with the same character feeling similar to each other and it makes it easy to fall into old habits.  In some sense it also almost requires scarcity to encourage deck diversity, because the limited way to build the decks can often lead to an optimal build.  

This isn’t a huge issue though, as anyone who has played games like Nethack are painfully aware that there is very frequently an optimal build to win the game.  I mean, whose first wish isn’t for Grey or Silver Dragon Scale Mail afterall?  In fact the three different character options in Vault of the Void means that endgame decks for these characters are going to be considerably different from one another. Unlike Nethack, players won’t be decked out in near identical “ascension kits” by the end.

Replayability

As with most roguelites, Vault of the Void offers a fairly limited set of choices to the player as they progress through a run. What makes it feel fresh and engaging is the different combinations of paths and abilities that you encounter, greatly adding to the sense of novelty and the game’s overall replay value. A successful run should generally take only a couple of hours, cruising through the two floors and conquering the final boss.  That said, not every run will be successful, and due to the randomness built into the game each run will be different.  The replay value comes from the varied experience and challenges that each run will invariably offer.

Losing is fun!

The replayability of the game comes from approaching challenges in a different way.  There are three different characters at the time of writing, each with his or her own unique playstyle and available deck.   Yet due to the randomness of the drops within the dungeon, no two runs with the same character will ever be exactly the same.  As you play through the game, you will unlock a growing library of enemies, abilities, and cards.  Unlocking everything will require completing the game, with multiple characters, a large number of times.  For completionists, the goal of unlocking everything will offer new and exciting challenges to players.

Vault of the Void by Spider Nest Games is available now in early access on Steam. Check the game out here

In case you decide to get the game, you can redeem the code ” banditgang ” to get your very own Team Bandit Gang cardback!

Game Spotlight: Draft of Darkness (Early Access), Bandit Gang’s First Look

Team Bandit Gang is excited to present a first-look into a new early-access game: Draft of Darkness. Bigdaddy843, Dr. Corchit, and Decode discuss their thoughts on their experiences so far and give some helpful tips

Slay the Spire on Newgrounds anyone?

What’s the game about?

843: Slay the Spire is the immediate thought everyone will probably have. I love Slay the Spire and Draft of Darkness (DoD) mimics some key aspects of the game, such as the rogue-like experience, card drafting and turn-based combat with energy management. DoD does add very interesting twists to this formula, particularly in the horror and resource management aspects. 

Decode: I’m not going to lie, I don’t scare easily and this game made me scared! DoD has a neat approach to a card game, but really shines at the atmosphere and spooky effects. DoD successfully captures me with the rogue-like hook, and I keep telling myself “I want to get further”. 

Dr. Corchit: The game reminded me a bit of Throne Breaker, the singleplayer version of Gwent. Exploration and combat were closely intertwined, and it was easy to run into monsters while navigating the game’s atmospherically dark rooms. It reminded me of some of the classic flash games I played back in high school, particularly the Sonny series. I don’t mean that as a bash–many of those games were very well done!

843: Yeah, especially with the pixel-art style, I think the game is heavily reminiscent of games from the 2000s. The atmosphere, turn-based gameplay and slower pace and movement evokes Darkest Dungeon, though that may not be to everyone’s taste. 

Decode: Helpful tip! If you don’t like the pixel-art style, you can turn it off in graphics options. I very much preferred the game in that way and enjoyed the game’s excellent 2.5D art assets in that form. 

Dr. Corchit: The gameplay isn’t anything you haven’t seen before–you run around a map and fight monsters in turn based combat, in a manner reminiscent of Pokemon. What this game brings to the genre is its atmospherically dark theme and card-based combat mechanics.

Pixelation on.
Pixelation off.

What’s the gameplay experience like? Also any advice?

Decode: The bread and butter of the game is actually resource management. While the game system is a rogue-like dungeon-crawl with deck-building/card game-play, the key to succeeding is Resident Evil-like in that if you can use your consumables correctly, you’ll do well. 

Dr. Corchit:  I liked the survival features implemented, whereby the player has to maintain energy, ammunition, and batteries. This was one of the more well-developed mechanics of the game as it was intuitive to understand and hit a sweet spot of complexity. Despite my best efforts though, I was thrashed by the boss on my first play-through. Looking back, I tried to fight every monster in order to gain XP, a strategy that works in most games. It seems that Draft of Darkness may require a more tactical approach when choosing to engage enemies.

843: I definitely agree one should avoid fights initially, at least until you pick up better gear, maybe a companion, and some resources. Dodging fights to explore before engaging for loot is helpful. One has to take care not to over-explore as ticking down some status effects require new ground to be covered. You also don’t want to accidentally walk into an encounter unprepared or in a bad state. I’ve managed to clear out stages fine with this general strategy. Speaking of status effects, Decode, as our key theory-crafter, what do you think of some of these mechanics?

Decode: Hah, I sort of just sped through it with a mix of exploration and some unavoidable fights. On decks, the best way to play is having one draw/tutor card and a boost card or two in the deck. You only need one tutor card, since, starting deck is 10, so you can achieve consistency quite easily, then it’s about stacking boosts and maintaining defenses before getting your finisher. You should also really bear in mind the game’s “conserve” feature that allows you to use weaker attacks without expending resources. 

Dr. Corchit: Personally, I felt that the game could develop its TCG aspect more thoroughly. I found that I wasn’t paying much attention to the cards added to my deck, and many of them were duplicates anyway. In my opinion, a truly challenging and well-designed card game should feature rare cards and precise strategy. Merely drawing and playing the same attack cards every round of combat doesn’t really scratch that itch.

843: DoD’s game-play is super engaging to me, you have to do the math before you execute a plan in terms of energy and resources, a combination of different moves (conserving or not), the order of moves (e.g. performing attacks before using a move that consumes your offensive boost). I really need to think my moves through. 

Decode: Yeah, bear in mind each character’s equipment/weapon specialties and perks as well. These can hugely impact your strategy in exploration and the deck/equipment builds that you go for. Personally I find dual-wielding and specializing in one particular card type to be the best way to play so far. Also, be persistent. You need to finish the game to unlock things, so even if you keep dying, getting more cards unlocked to improve your starter deck, learning from your experiences and getting to completion is the path to success. 

Cards and Resources for Your Precious Pennies.

What’s the state of the game?

843: Ok guys, bear in mind this is early access, so there’s a lot more all-important fine tuning to be done for a deep detailed game like this. How do you feel things are so far? For me, I like what I see in terms of potential, but there’s a lot of room for improvement. The pace is on the slow side for me. I understand that it’s horror-survival, so it sort of wants to be slower? But in terms of frequency of adding/removing cards, getting new items/relics to play with, and having excessive equipment/loot, it could be faster paced like its counterparts. 

Dr Corchit:  I think the game has decent potential. Games in early access are a mixed bag, and can vary from barely playable to virtually complete. This game has a considerable amount of polish and feels almost ready to be released. At the same time, the core game-play is a bit on the shallow side, though the graphics and vibes are impressive. One suggestion I have for the games developers: when you play cards from your hand, it might be interesting to have the player only redraw the cards they didn’t play from the last round. This would encourage tighter deck-building, and would punish players for having cards they never play in their hand. Additionally, I think that some persistence between hands is required for the game to feel like a card game. Redrawing your hand every round ruins that feeling.

843: Yeah I totally agree that this is really good for an early access stage. 

Decode: Same, but there’s some large issues, regarding the procedural room generation. One run, I got an unavoidable boss in the third room.  

843: Hah! I got one in the middle of my first run and died a painful death. So we all agree that pacing and the instance dungeons need work. 

Decode: That said, there are some super cool things that surprised me considering where the game is.

*SPOILER ALERT*

Story-line actions have consequences via a hidden mechanic. Good actions increase the light stat while being evil increases the dark. Also, try staying on a level for a really long time. If you stay still too long, there’s a HORRIFYING surprise waiting for you.

*SPOILERS END HERE*

The game is scary. Yeah. I do find the lore somewhat under-developed, the dots don’t connect yet even though I have completed the existing content twice. I am curious to learn more though. 

Dr. Corchit: Yeah, I don’t know, the cut-scenes don’t make sense? I think I accidentally skipped the first cutscene, though I remember reading something about being a hacker with access to a couple hundred servers. I found my character starting in a rather dark area that looked like an abandoned office building, with little explanation as to who I was or what I was doing. To be fair, I didn’t progress much past the first level.

843: Things do pick up at stage 2 when we learn a bit more about the world. Personally I’m just super curious in general so it was alright. Hah, Decode probably ran through stage 1 so fast he got right to the hooks. Alright, so people will have to be aware that the game is still in development and things are improving. 

Stage 2: The Streets. Where things really pick up.

What do we hope to see moving forward?

Decode: Well we know the developers are going in a good direction. Their Discord says they’re working on the UI and that’s something that sorely needs improvement. For instance, the HUD on the upper left is too small to catch. There’s a lot of unused space at the bottom which can be put to good use. Some UI customization options could go a long way. 

Possible HUD options for the future.

843: Yes I think improving the UI would help with many of the game’s teething problems. There are transparency and clarity issues. Card rarity is indicated but not explicitly explained, nor are any number of mechanics such as dual-wielding and many of the status effects. 

Dr. Corchit: I was confused by the massive number of status effects that I found in only the first level. There was even a status effect for being covered in spider webs! I’d prefer if the devs toned it down, introducing only a few per level. Status effects make the game more complicated, but they don’t always make it more fun. At least that’s an easy fix, and the sort of thing to be expected from a game in early access. 

Decode: Yes I saw all of them on level 1 and it was overwhelming. 

Dr. Corchit: I’m still not sure what the meta objective of some statuses is, such as radiation which is especially confusing. The status effects did have an explanation that displayed when you hover over them, but reading them all–especially when there’s so many in just the first level–can be a slog.

843: According to their Discord, radiation may be made positive later in the game with the right items. I guess it’s one of the added layers of complexity in trade-offs that are present in the game or will be developed further. 

Dr. Corchit: Speaking of complexities, I noticed there was an option to use or conserve ammo. Conserving ammo was often a beneficial strategy, and definitely an aspect of gameplay that I’d like to see in the final version. Yet, I noticed that turning on ammo conservation mode costs one energy, which felt counterintuitive. Besides that, default builds on companions can be really silly, like the cop having flashlight cards but no flashlight equipped. Also, it would be nice to use consumables during battle, perhaps for a modest cost in energy.

Decode: That’s some good quality of life stuff which would be nice. I think we could do away with the need to manually save every time you modify the deck. We also desperately need a profile screen. Having the option to start from scratch, save, override, delete multiple profiles is essential to roguelikes. Enhancing left click functionality will also go a long way, like allowing us to use it to examine things on the map or bring up tooltips/details/explanations in menus, inventory, etc. 

843: Well not to worry, I believe the community has noted the developers’ receptiveness to feedback and no doubt we’ll see at least some of these implemented in the future. We look forward to seeing this game in its full fledged form! 

 

Draft of Darkness by Crawly Games will be available for Early Access on Steam from the 31st of July 2021. Do check the game out here!

Update: The developers Crawly Games have proven immensely responsive, immediately rectifying bugs reported by Decode. 

Game Spotlight: Trials of Fire

While we are a group of content creators and competitive players with a hearty hankering for Gwent, we recently got the opportunity from Neon Bedlam to play an indie game called Trials of Fire. In this Spotlight, Weevil and I guide you through what the game is about, how the combat works, what else you need to know in our opinion and lastly, where and how you can get the game. Aside from that, this week you can expect some of our streamers to stream the game live on Twitch and a first impression video on our YouTube so you can get a better impression of the game. Although, we will try our best as well with the words that we put down on paper for you.

What is Trials of Fire, eh?

Trials of Fire is a single player, turn-based strategic deckbuilder game from WHATBOY set in a post-cataclysmic fantasy realm. In this game, you get to choose 3 Heroes and adventure into the wasteland where you engage with enemies in a unique meld of card-play and tactical, positional combat. By doing so, you level up your Heroes  and scavenge what you can to customize your decks and build your party to take on a variety of challenges! As you traverse the landscape, every decision matters, and will affect what resources you gather, how many battles you fight, and how much rest you will require.

Hunter, Elementalist & Warrior are the first 3 Heroes that the game gives you. In total there are 9 Heroes which you can all give a name to your own liking and strengthen them with items to wear and use.

How does the combat system in Trials of Fire work then?

Before you head out on this amazing journey, it’s good to know how the combat in this game works. We would recommend playing the Battle Tutorial first to gather knowledge about the many unique combat mechanics that are in the game. If you’re feeling confident enough, you can skip it.  Nonetheless, this article will provide you with a nice summary to get you started. So without further ado, let’s get into it.

Combat in Trials of Fire is simple on the surface, but has many layers of complexity behind it. In combat, each Hero has their own deck of cards, which they can use to move and attack enemies, or aid your fellow Heroes. Cards in your initial deck are based on the Skill Cards of your Hero, which are quite basic. Unlike other card games, Trials of Fire builds its cards into the equipment you wear, acting both as a buff to your Hero’s health while also improving the deck. As you collect new gear, your deck will vastly improve. 

To win a battle, you simply have to defeat all the enemies on the battlefield by reducing their health to zero. Ideally, you want to do this without losing any of your Heroes, which is tricky in higher difficulties. If a Hero falls, they will remain injured until they are healed. With that being said, let’s go more in-depth regarding the combat mechanics.

Skill Cards
As previously mentioned, your Heroes have each their own versatile Skill Cards. To either move around with on the battlefield, defeat your foes with or defend yourself when needed. And you are the chosen one that is pulling the strings, how cool is that? Skill Cards serve as your available actions and also the resources you will need to pay for those actions. To recognize which Skill Cards your Heroes have, colors have been given to match the Skill Cards with the counter of your Hero on the battlefield. Using them is easy, you can hover them to find out what they do and then click and drag from the card within your hand to an appropriate target (unless the card is a Block card, targets a wide area, or affects all Heroes or enemies). Once you have played your cards out, you can end your turn. Then its up to your enemies to take their turn to fight back and vice versa. 

Redraws
Remember when I mentioned cards being built into gear? Well, by equipping good quality weapons and items, your Heroes can gain a number of Redraws, or mulligans, which can be used in each battle. Redraws can be used to replace cards in your hand during a single turn by swapping those cards for an equal number from your deck. Redraws have many uses. Sometimes, you’re looking for a card to synergise with your fellow Heroes or finish off an enemy. Perhaps you need to move out of danger. Or, you can use them to replace Weakness cards in your hand with useful Skill Cards. Similar to other card games, redraws of this kind are used to give you more options during a single turn.

Willpower
During your turn, you will be given at least 3 fresh cards from your deck, but this can vary depending on various factors. 

So, what now? To act in combat, you require Willpower (let’s think of it as Mana). This can be obtained by recycling the cards you have using the Recycle Shrine, or with various other Hero abilities. You can recycle cards by either dragging them to the Shrine or by right-clicking on them. Recycling a card will add one Willpower to the Shrine, which any Hero can use. Be aware, though, that this can also be used to move Heroes two spaces, so you must choose wisely. A card’s current Willpower cost is displayed at the top right, while your available Willpower is displayed in the Recycle Shrine. 

Because your Willpower has multiple purposes, the trick to playing Trials of Fire effectively is optimising the Willpower you use each turn to deal the most damage to your enemy while moving or protecting your Heroes.  If you decide to not use the Willpower points for more powerful Action Cards or movement, then your Hero can gain 2 Defence. This blocks 2 of your opponents damage during their turn.

Melee, Ranged and Magic Attacks
Combat in Trials of Fire takes place on a grid of hexagonal spaces, which Heroes and enemies can interact with for attacks and movement. Depending on your Hero, your focus will be on Melee attacks, which you can execute from within one space of an enemy, or Ranged attacks, which you can use from farther away – as long as the enemy is within line of sight. You can see this by hovering over your Hero and looking at the eye symbols that display above your enemies. Magic attacks, lastly, are quite varied, but they can be quite devastating. They can be used from many different locations, so our best advice here is to try them out for yourself. 

Combo Strikes
While you can be very self-centered and use your Heroes apart from each other, sometimes teamwork is the right call because this allows you to use Combo Strikes for extra damage. In order to do this, you need to position multiple Heroes adjacent to the same enemy for melee attacks. Once executed, Heroes other than the attacker will deal 1 point of additional damage per Combo Strike (up to two). Because enemies can move around quite efficiently, setting up Combo Strikes can be tricky. Friendly Heroes that can execute a Combo Strike will be highlighted with a yellow glow. However, a Friendly Hero cannot perform a Combo Strike if they are adjacent to more than a single enemy. In that case, your attack is highlighted with a red glow.

Powers
Just like Superman and Spider-Man, our Heroes also have their own Powers. Think of the Powers as on-going bonuses. And while the Powers of Superman are always active, such as incredible strength and impervious skin, each Power in Trials of Fire has its own health (or Resilience) that is reduced whenever that Hero takes damage. Thus, when the card’s Resilience is depleted, the Power will be discarded.

Talents
While our Heroes have their Skill Cards and Powers to assist them against the enemy, they also have their own natural talents. These Talents are once-per-turn abilities that will trigger automatically under certain circumstances. You can mouse over your Hero to check their Talent and try to make the most use of your Talents during your turn. The gem underneath a Hero’s portrait indicates whether their talent can still be triggered during that turn.

Named Effects
Named Effects are on-going effects that can help or hinder characters in battles. They are shown in card descriptions in bold, such as Burning and Exposed. While all Named Effects have a unique disadvantage or benefit, they all follow the same basic rules. The first rule is that a Named Effect will last until the end of the affected character’s turn. The second rule is that applying the same Named Effect more than once will not double up the effect, but will increase the duration so it may last longer than a single turn. While active, named effects are displayed as icons on the top-right of the affected character.

Elite Enemies and Bosses
Yes indeed, you heard it correctly. In this game you can encounter aside of the standard enemies, also Elite Enemies and Bosses. While the Elite Enemies are generally tougher and more dangerous than standard enemies, Boss enemies are the toughest enemies you will face. A single Boss will be a match for your entire party! Important here is that, Elite Enemies and Bosses have a unique and dangerous ability that you should look out for when fighting them. There is a lot more when it comes to your enemies, but you will have to play the game yourself in order to find out. And while you fight your way to victory in these battles, you can level your Heroes by doing so. When you level up, you get the chance to switch a card from your Hero’s deck with a new card.  If you don’t want to change a card from your deck then you don’t have to. Simple as that.

Levelling Up
Lastly, by successfully completing a battle, your Heroes will level up, allowing them one of two benefits:

  • You can upgrade one of the current Skill Cards in your deck.
  • You can add a new card to your deck from a choice of four.

Your Heroes will also become stronger as a result of this. 

Exploring the world of Ashe

Well, with the basics of the combat in mind, its good to know that when starting the game, you are thrown in the world of Ashe to complete your first quest to track down Naya. So, while the battles are a big part of the game, they are integrated into the quests themselves. The golden objective icon down below on the map shows you where you need to go for your main quest. There are also side quests, which are displayed as bronze markers. And while you need to follow the golden objective to reach your next quest destination, there is a lot of other things you need to know and can do in the meantime.

Aside from questing, it’s important to keep up your supplies, gain followers, and gather weapons and equipment that are important to complete your quest. These can be found at points of interest, highlighted as blue question marks on your map. By hovering above them with your mouse, you can see the probability of obtaining particular rewards, such as the option to shop, food, upgrade materials, or equipment. 

However, if our Heroes were cats, too much curiosity might just kill them. By walking around on the map and visiting these points, your Heroes’ Fatigue and Morale Levels can get shaky. If you follow your main quest marker, you will remain determined, which affords many bonuses in battle. If, however, you stray off the beaten track too often (as one is encouraged to do in many RPG games), then you will use up all of your stamina, become hungry and exhausted and…well, you’ll die and you’ll have to start all over. Your Heroes morale starts dropping very quickly if they don’t see progress regarding your objectives, so be sure to keep marching towards that quest!

So, just as combat is about balancing your Willpower usage for defence, offence, and movement, exploration is about balancing exploration and progress towards your objective. This requires you to take rests regularly, for example by setting up a camp in ruins or settlements where you can find shelter from the harsh conditions of Ashe. The more sheltered your current location is, the more effective your rest will be. To rest, you need Food supplies, which you can find from points of interest. When you rest, you will restore some health to each Hero, and they will be able to fight more effectively for you in battles. 

If you choose not to rest and encounter an enemy, although you can carry on, cards such as Fatigue or Exhausted will be added to your deck, which just take up space and have no ability! To get rid of them, you need to either recycle them or use them up. 

A Note on Upgrades
Upgrades are a big part of Trials of Fire. When you rest at a Camp, you have several options, each of which requires Food. Firstly, as mentioned, you can rest, which will restore some health. But you can also upgrade your Heroes’ gear in various ways. Here is what you need to know:

  • Food can be used to Hone items, or permanently remove a card associated with a piece of equipment from your deck. Very useful when you are trying to thin out less useful cards.
  • Mystic Herbs can be used to Meditate and Upgrade or Forget Class Cards from a single Hero. This is very useful for powering up what you have, or removing what you no longer need.
  • Food can be used to Upgrade all cards associated with a piece of gear. Cards can be upgraded only once  to a “+” version. This provides benefits such as increased damage or defence, as well as reduced Willpower cost. 
Because of the cost involved, you need to decide whether you want to remain energized with Food, or power up your Heroes for more long-term benefits. This is what makes Trials of Fire so engaging to learn. So, with having said all that. Its probably time for you to try out this game yourself and explore it further!

I want to play the game now!

Well, well, well, good to hear that you are all excited and ready to spend some pocket money (for real, the game ain’t expensive) on this game. Right now, you can still buy the Early Access version of Trials of Fire on Steam. Which you can find here. But don’t worry, the 1.0 version has been announced to release this Friday, April 9th! After this point, the game will be officially moving out of Early Access and into full release. Not too bad right? We at Bandit Gang hope you will enjoy this week’s special content that we have prepared for you all. Because there may be other opportunities in the future for us to spotlight other games!