Obsidian Entertainment (studio)
15 June 2017 (released)
24 October 2017
Pathfinder Adventures is a complete digitisation of one of Paizo’s most successful card games, with beautiful visuals, interesting stories and a rich world to explore. Much like any good RPG, Pathfinder Adventures is dripping with fantasy lore and will make anyone like me super happy.
I was very intimidated by the fact this was a digital recreation of a card game I’ve never played and was worried the rules and logic would go straight over my head. However there is in place a tutorial which pretty much plays out as a mini adventure. This was a great way to grasp my attention and ease me into the workings of the gameplay. What follows is a lengthy tutorial but one that immerses you very well into the game. There are a few concepts that non card game players will have to take time to understand, but overall the tutorial does a great job at exploring this constructs and allowing players to grasp an understanding of them.
With a basic understanding of how the game worked I went forward and started my adventures. You choose a team of adventurers and equip them with various cards that represent their weapons, spells and various items to use on the journey. The main objective for each scenario is a fantasy favourite; embarking on a quest to rid the world of evil by defeating a nasty villain and their evil henchmen. There are several locations you have to explore within each scenario and each one contains a henchman guarding it. You main task is to defeat a henchman in each location before you reach the main villain. As you complete scenarios, you get various bonuses along the way including new cards that you use to customise your characters' decks before embarking on another adventure. Creating the most awesome group of ultimate adventures.
Pathfinder Adventures may seem mechanically complex at first but and to be honest, it may take some time to adjust to the inner workings of the game. The simplest way I can describe it is as such: When you encounter a card in the game, you have to fulfil a “check” which is basically matching or surpassing the number on said card by rolling the dice. If the card is a “boon” which is cards that contain weapons, spells, companions and armours, you acquire it by beating that number. The same goes for defeating any villains, monsters and other obstacles. Succeeding any checks rely on rolling the dice but it’s also influenced by your characters’ skills and any other additional cards you play.
There are various actions you can take when it comes to playing a card, and each gives specific bonuses. Basic actions that can reveal your card or discard along with other more tactical manoeuvres such as banishing or burying cards, with the latter helping to hold back a vital card until the last moment where it could be a life saver. There was plenty of tension within the various encounters I played and relying on tactical uses of equipment within a time limit made it absolutely enthralling. It’s especially tense when you have to get that critical dice roll right, otherwise you’re expecting one hell of a beating.
There, simple right?
Pathfinder Adventures does present a healthy sense of challenge for the most part and indulges players with a rather gratifying risk and reward style of play. I did find at certain moments in the campaign that the difficulty spiked and the game became a relentless beating. This could be related to the time limit implemented in scenarios and the aspect of chance when rolling the dice. I’m never a fan of time limits and at times it’s rather imposing, considering if you’re a player who enjoys exploring and thinking tactics through. This is not the type of game for those who have to evaluate the situation at hand. But after a couple of tries you’ll grasp the pacing and may even enjoy the pressure of making decisions quickly. But there are other optional features which add a new layer of depth to the game if you fancy the ultimate challenge. Permadeath! However it’s properly ideal to leave this until you’re pro enough.
Just don't go mental if you're having a bad stroke of luck with rolling the dice. You can for the most part turn the tables and gain the advantage again through simple manoeuvres and tactics. Yet it wouldn't surprise me if the dice were rigged from time to time considering how much of a beating you could get just from a couple of bad rolls.
Mechanically the game is very engaging as a strategic and tactical endeavour which grants you gripping encounters that rely on patience and cunning. While we’re at it, I have to state that Pathfinder Adventures looks absolutely beautiful as well. The cards are drawn exceptionally well along with world designs and backdrops all looking wonderful. I was amazed at the high craftsmanship that went into aesthetics and the fluent nature to the cut scenes and animated backgrounds that really help bring an organic quality to the game. The music is perfect as it sets the right mood for exploration and conflict which is well needed during the long battles.
The interface are expertly crafted as they avoid any complex navigational patterns and have overall a nice sense of presentation that make interactions clear to understand. Pathfinder On my first play through I did find the interface rather daunting, yet from the reasons stated before and with a helpful guide on interacting with the menus this feeling didn’t last long. Before you know it, you’ll be a professional knowing exactly where to find every piece of information you need.
In terms of content, if you enjoy the game's mechanics, you'll be playing Pathfinder Adventures for a long, long time. There’s plenty of scenarios to dive into and a great sense of depth to the adventures you’ll embark on. I did however come across some technical issues that interrupted my flow and even halt my progression. These didn’t have enough to ruin my experience for the most part but just be weary as discarding a card and coming across a bug could mean you’ll lose some vital loot and gear for nothing. I’m hoping these bugs will be patched up in the near future.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Pathfinder Adventures aside from the few issues I came across. This is a glorious adventure game that I can recommend to even gamer like me, who don’t normally play card games. This is a great offering that gripping, fun and vastly entertaining for hours on end.
++ Engaging and tactical gameplay
+ Beautiful aesthetics
+ Tons of content
- Extreme difficulty spikes
A Steam copy of Pathfinder Adventures was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review