As someone who has played many deck builders in her time and adores rogue-likes, it’s hard to find something that surprises me within the two genres that offers anything unique. That was until I played Nadir: A Grimdark Deck Builder, which introduces an exciting card-splitting mechanic.
Upon first loading up the game, it will give you a brief tutorial explaining the basics of the gameplay, however, some things aren’t covered, such as explaining the use of status effects. A little more explanation within the tutorial could seriously help someone who isn’t so familiar with deck-building games.
As for the gameplay, it’s a simple premise interwoven with more intricate mechanics. Players have a deck of cards that they gradually build upon as they complete runs. Each card is split in half, one possessing a red ability and the other a blue one, making each card effectively two and allowing you a little more freedom with how you play. But it’s the way you play these cards that make this unique…
Nadir plays out very similarly to Slay the Spire in the way that you’re using your cards to defeat an enemy. The difference here is that your opponent plays cards too, which determines what you can play. With each turn, you see three of your enemies’ cards, except unlike yours, they will be a mixture of solely blue or red. Your cards have a cost to them, but instead of you having a set amount of ‘points’ to use, your cards will be placed depending on what colours your opponent has. For example, if your opponent has three red cards in play, you can’t play any of your blue cards, but you can play a powerful red card.
Also, each time you play one of your cards, you will activate a ‘charge’ on your opponent’s cards. Charges are effectively how often you can play a card before your opponent’s ability activates. The twist is that you can choose which card you will add a charge to based on how strong your own is. So, if you played a card requiring two reds to activate, it would knock off two charges. It sounds complex, but paying attention to these things is crucial to getting the best out of your run.
The rogue-like elements are what keep you returning. You acquire various resources during each run depending on how well you did, which can be spent on unlocking different sections of your home base or providing various abilities to assist you. For example, very early on, you will receive an ability that lets you recover 10HP each time you go to the next floor of your run, and although that doesn’t sound like much, it can be instrumental to defeating that next enemy or boss. Even better, you can also unlock more cards for your different characters to use or unlock additional characters altogether.
Nadir: A Grimdark Deck Builder is a challenging game that is still relatively fun. I actually enjoyed the challenge that the game posed; the only issue is that I also found it to be quite bland in its approach. It offers a few unique mechanics that allow it to stand out from the crowd, but ultimately, it doesn’t do enough to stay in the spotlight.
Nadir: A Grimdark Deck Builder £16.99
Overall, Nadir: A Grimdark Deck Builder is a fun title that offers a different spin on the deck-building rogue-like genre. Sadly though, there are so many other alternatives that offer much more in-depth and fleshed-out gameplay that it’s hard to recommend this one.