I’m a fan of deck building games, in particular those that play out on the top of a table. I’m not adverse to video game ports of board games. But the change in pace often exposes weaknesses in the mechanics, and ultimately most suffer from a real lack of replayability.
Frost then is a deck building game themed around a group of survivors trying to reach refuge from a fierce approaching blizzard. Refuge is a certain number of ‘steps’ away, and the blizzard a certain number of ‘steps’ behind. To pass through each step you need to gather the prerequisite resources from your 5 card hand, which is drawn from your deck at the start of each turn, and allocate them until the cards demands are satisfied. Resources themselves take the form of food, materials and survivors, and these can be acquired as you progress through in game events or crafting – which allows you to convert one or more resources into another, for example spending one material resource to build a spear or using cannibalism to convert a survivor into food.
The trick is to maintain a reasonable balance of resources in your deck, ensuring that you never have too much or too little of any one resource. You’ll also want to avoid accumulating too many ‘fatigue’ cards, which are generated by sending survivors out gathering or other in game events, which if not kept in check will flood your deck and hand with useless cards slowing your progress down. Maintaining a decent pace is essential to beating the game, with each turn where you fail to progress resulting in the ‘Frost’ getting one ‘Step’ closer.
The games default mode offers up either easy or a custom mode, allowing you to configure game settings such as the number of steps required to reach refuge. The game has scenarios, unlocked by completing certain actions or objectives in the main game, which offer further challenge by setting the player some additional objectives, for example to have all family members survive until you reach refuge. Beyond these modes however, variety comes from the games random nature, which works most of the time but every now and then produces results in being either far too easy, or far to hard.
Overall, Frost is fun but average. I liked the theme, specifically how the various cards and flavour text fit within it. But I found it lacked the depth of other deck building game which should appeal to the more casual player, but for the more seasoned deck builder player like myself I find the game too simple. There is little variety in strategy, and as such there is too much dependence on luck. The challenge of each play-through can vary greatly, and occasionally you’ll breeze through lacking any real sense of reward despite reaching the end.
To conclude, Frost is a decent albeit simple game. For the causal player it’s perfect, a reasonably well balanced experience with decent replay value. But for the more hardcore it lacks the challenge and variety to keep you on the hook for the long run.
(Editorial Note – The game is fundamentally the same on both the Xbox and Nintendo Switch with one addition on the Switch of touch controls. I found them a little hit and miss and often opted for manipulating the cards using the d-pad or analogue stick preferable though they are a nice addition and appreciated as many Switch ports don’t even try to implement them.)
Frost was provided to us by Xbox/Digetati for Xbox One. It was reviewed on an Xbox One S and X.