Swipe left and right to battle monsters and conquer adventures.
Android & iOS
# of Players
Meteorfall, developed by Slothwerks, is a single-player, deck-building, roguelike built around an intuitive swipe left or right control scheme. Players choose their hero and head off on an adventure through a few locales, battling monsters and unlocking new abilities along the way, building towards a final encounter with the diabolical Uberlich. Make it to Uberlich and vanquish him to earn victory, die along the way or at Uberlich’s hand and you have failed. A game in which you make it all the way to Uberlich usually takes about 30 minutes, but games are often significantly shorter due to untimely deaths.
Standard disclaimer: Meteorfall is not a port of a physical game. It is a game designed for digital platforms which uses many board game mechanics. We cover games like this from time to time when we feel they are closely in line with board games, and Meteorfall fits the bill.
Meteorfall begins by selecting one of four heros. Each hero has their own strengths and weaknesses, discussed in more detail later, but they follow some typical RPG molds and each have their own starting decks. From there, the adventure begins by choosing a location to explore first, done with a swipe left or right, a recurring theme in Meteorfall. Once selected, the first card from the encounter deck is turned over. The encounter deck contains monsters and perks. You can choose to fight or flee any monster in the game, except bosses. Should you fight, you draw a card from your deck, which will include a variety of cards to attack, heal, or provide bonuses to yourself. After a few draws, if the monster isn’t dead, your turn is up and the monster will then fight back with draws from their own deck containing similar card types. Once you kill the monster you receive some XP and coins then a new encounter card is drawn. The last card at each location is a mini-boss you must defeat. Succeed and you get to choose a second location to explore. After conquering a third location you meet up with Uberlich himself, the ultimate boss, in an epic showdown.
Combat in Meteorfall is straightforward. Each character, hero or monster, has values for health, stamina, and turns. Health is exactly what you think it is; run out and you die. Stamina is required to play most cards in the game, and your supply drops when a card that uses it is played. The turn counter is how many cards you can drawn each turn. These stats have some interesting twists associated with them. At any point during a battle you can swipe left on a card to skip its action and regain four stamina. You will often find yourself low or out of stamina so this swipe left will be a necessity, but can be very painful if you are forced to swipe left on a powerful card. Some cards provide you with an extra tick on your turn counter for that turn, so you can string together some long turns with the right deck (looking at you Mischief).
While not cut directly out of the Dominion mold, the game will feel familiar to deck builder fans with the way you manipulate your hero’s deck over the course of the game to achieve a more cohesive, powerful set of cards. There are a few chances to manipulate your deck. A temple allows you to discard a card. The blacksmith allows you to buy upgrades for cards in your deck which aren’t already maxed out. The shop allows you to purchase new cards. You can also open a treasure which contains two cards, you can choose to take or leave each of the cards. These four choices and a rest option will show up in the encounter deck in pairs of two, forcing you to choose between them. Adding in the rest option, which fully recharges your health and spell charges, is a devious twist as it will often leave you deciding between improving your deck and healing your character. This can be the difference between life and death in your next battle. As a rougelike, the order and nature in which these choices appear in the encounter deck is always random.
The encounter deck consists of monsters and these perks. The final type of encounter are random meetups which will offer you one of a handful of bonuses such as somebody selling a healing potion or the chance to gain extra XP at the expense of health, for example. These are helpful in your quest but usually secondary to monsters and the perks mentioned earlier.
As the game progresses, the monsters get progressively more difficult. The trend is that the early monsters in any given location will be a bit underpowered but they get more difficult the deeper you go. The option to be able to skip any monster is a fascinating one. By skipping a monster you are losing out on the chance to earn valuable XP to level up. Leveling up provides increased stats, along with a full recharge, so skip too many and you will eventually have no chance as the monsters get too difficult and your non-increased stats can’t compete. However, a strategically timed skip can make all the difference in keeping your hero alive long enough to rest. Complicating things is a wonderful scoring system which provides much of the replay value in the game. A score is tallied after every game and you earn points based on the number of monsters you defeated and unspent coins. If you are chasing a high score you may opt to fight a monster even if skipping it would be the wiser choice.
The sum of all of this is a really fun, interesting game. There are a lot of tough choices to make in which perks to choose, whether to fight or run, and how to spend your precious coins. Success in Meteorfall will come to those who target a specific deck strategy and work towards refining it throughout the game. Slowly trash those cards which don’t align with the plan, while paying for powerful upgrades and adding cards which fit your plan. Having a deck that is too large and scattered is a great way to ensure an early death. Speaking of losing, you will do that a lot in this game. Often even a great plan will be foiled by some bad luck draws. The thrill of winning is great, and, as mentioned, the scoring system will keep many coming back for more to try to improve on their best games. This is a crucial point as the game, at release time, consists of four heroes and one could easily defeat Uberlich with all of them in a matter of hours. It took me three days to accomplish this, playing a few games a day. The creator has stated that he is working on more content which will be a welcome addition. If you are the type who will enjoy trying to hone your strategy to maximize points, Meteorfall will have plenty of replay value as it stands now.
Barrier to Entry
Meteorfall contains a brief tutorial which takes place at the start of your first game. You can later reset the tutorial so it will run again if needed. The tutorial walks you through the very basic mechanics of the game and then lets you go on your way to the normal game. Players may feel a bit unprepared, but the app helps teach you along the way with its “half drag” feature. If you pull a card to one side or the other without performing a full swipe, a dialog will appear at the top of the screen explaining exactly what effect will occur with that swipe. This is invaluable for new and seasoned players alike as there are many different cards in Meteorfall so memorizing what all of them do is a tough task. For me, it took a game or two for the basic rules to really sink in, luckily these games resulted in very quick deaths so my total learning time was minimal.
Look and Feel
Meteorfall looks great. The artwork pops off the screen from the very start, with the monsters and the, for some unknown reason, bear claw that swipes away cards being the biggest standouts. At first glance, I was reminded of the Miracle Merchant artwork but this is not the same artist, for those who were curious like I was. The sounds are good without being overbearing, with background music complementing the game and sound effects chiming in frequently.
We’ve touched on it, but wanted to save the larger discussion for this section; the controls are a standout portion of the game. Seriously. Almost every action is either a swipe left or right, it’s that simple. The consistency of controls is great as a left swipe usually means ignoring or skipping something, while right generally means activating or confronting. There are a few cases where left/right are two equal choices, such as which perk to select, but the basic “yes versus no” mapping of left and right is the dominant control scheme of the game. The “half-drag” feature mentioned earlier which provides card descriptions is a great touch. The control scheme helps keep Meteorfall simple and it really is a major part of the game.
Meteorfall is a single player game, there are no multiplayer options. There is a global leaderboard which shows you the ten best scores so you can see how your scores stack. This provides fun goals to try to reach, even if many of us will find them seemingly impossible to obtain. If I'm searching for something to gripe about here, having more than ten entries on the leaderboard and breaking them out on a per hero basis would be a welcome addition.
The game consists of four heroes, each of which provides their own styles, card choices, and adventure. Bruno is the warrior of the group, preferring brute force attacks. Greybeard is a mage who will defeat opponents with strong spells. Mischief the elf sneakily adds extra actions to her turn. Rose has advanced healing spells. The four provide a great range of play styles and variety.
There are no in-app purchases for Meteorfall. The game creator has stated that more content is on the way, so look for that in a future update.
The Wrap Up
Meteorfall is a fantastic idea that is executed extraordinarily well, resulting in a great app experience. The rougelike aspect ensures you won’t see the same game twice, while deck-building lets you customize your actions throughout each game. The end result is an experience that never plays exactly the same from one game to the next. The only real question here is whether there is enough longevity in this game. Ultimately, that will come down to whether or not you enjoy the chase-your-score style of replayability. If you enjoy taking the heroes into their adventure and trying to find the optimal plays to maximize your score, Meteorfall will be a perfect addition to your library. If you are more the type who will stop playing once you defeat the game with each hero, then Meteorfall might fall short. Note that the prospect of more content may alleviate this issue.
Meteorfall is truly a board game developed for a digital platform. The control scheme feels like it was a starting point for the game, not an afterthought. The amount of bookkeeping necessary to pull off this exact game in a physical version would be unwieldy. Simply put, it is hard to imagine Meteorfall existing in any form other than digitally. We say that as a huge compliment, Meteorfall takes advantage of its platform by integrating it into the game from the start and the results are fantastic.