Unhatched – Puzzle Adventure Card Game is entirely built around digital cards but it isn’t what you expect. This is not a Pokemon Card Game or Yu-Gi-Oh situation. With a large focus on narrative and strategy that changes with each battle, this is more of a choose-your-own-adventure mixed with puzzle solving that just so happens to use cards to say Yes or No.
Each dialog box lets the player select one of two options by tilting the analog stick left or right. Although these dialog trees will never end with a game over, they can affect which cards are obtained and which battles are fought. Most decisions also contain a subtle amount of humor. For example, the player might be tasked with avoiding a scam so you fight the scam, or hatching an egg so the battle is about hatching an egg. It sounds stupid on paper but winds up being one of the best parts of this low cost Switch digital download.
The left or right dialog mechanic also bleeds into the gameplay. Before each battle, the player aligns six cards to be played in a specific order. Each card can activate one of two options by tilting the analog stick in the desired direct. Tilting to the right might add one point of Mana, which is basically an action point, but tilting to the left might play another card, attack the opponent, or bump a colored card to the front of the line. Like a good boss battle in an RPG, there is definitely a strategy for each encounter as you cannot rely on button mashing or leveling since these elements do not exist. Instead, the player might think about how to place cards, which option to use, and keep an eye on the opponent’s stack. The ultimate goal is to cause a handful of damage points to the opponent to move onto the next bit of plot. Luckily, should you lose, the player instantly restarts at the beginning of that battle and battles might only last a couple minutes. The player even has the option to skip a battle to move on if the challenge is too high.
This game only costs $5 and carries a high fun factor. The visuals are very plain and there are only a couple songs in the soundtrack but it isn’t fair to expect much from an inexpensive title. Being honest, I am not one for card games. In fact, I think the only digital card game I enjoy is Final Fantasy VIII’s Triple Triad, which is an optional mini game. Unhatched only uses the cards as a vehicle for adventure-style gameplay and has to be one of the most un-card game card games you’ll ever play. It is super simple but also incredibly thoughtful. Even if you avoid card games just as much as I do, you should enjoy your time with this sleeper hit title.
Plays More Like: a choose your own adventure book
Better Than: those complex card games with a high learning curve
Also Play: Slay The Spire