Tread cardfully (pun intended) into a card-flipping puzzle adventure title. Walk Home Games takes inspiration from those tricky internet flash games we all played in high school computer class (looking at you World’s Hardest Game) and adds a touch of Undertale, visually. Traverse through rooms in a dungeon, avoiding spikes, arrows, and other pixelated hazards and try to clear them all. If you’ve played a puzzle-like card or flash game before, there’s not much new to be introduced here. With that being said, Cardful Planning, in early access, has some substance and tricky puzzles to pull your attention.
Use W,A,S,D to move on the keyboard, Q to interact with objects, and SHIFT to dash. That’s all you need to know for the most part, minus later pickups and abilities learned along the way. The game is 50 levels, or rooms, broken up into a Hub world. You can unlock later levels with out necessarily needing to 100% clear each section. That’s a nice touch for those who may get stuck and want to see other parts of the game. The playing card aesthetic comes into play, when a number value is needed to unlock the exit. Other cards are needed to be picked up, much like a key in a dungeon crawler. Their face value will add to your card’s value, thus enabling level progression.
Moving each square flips the card. So, until you unlock the dash ability, you’ll move in a face up, face down, face up pattern. Take note, that in order to pick up other cards on the board, you’re player card must be face up. This makes it a little more tricky to move about the board to land right side up on the right space while dodging flying arrows and projectiles. There’s not much else, but it’s a simple game still in development so hopefully there is more to come.
The level progression and difficulty spikes in Cardful Planning are done quite well. The rooms do get harder as you go, but sometimes the difficulty might scale back a bit after a tough room. This is a nice reward after a tough challenge to be able to cruise through another room or two. The overall difficulty curve is linear, and the later levels do provide a solid challenge for the worthy.
Console Port and Control Thoughts
This is currently a Steam-only title. I’m hoping that there are plans for console ports (mainly Nintendo Switch due to it’s embrace of indie titles). While the game handled nicely on Steam, I’m still not the most comfortable with SHIFT to sprint. It’s a little tricky to have your left hand responsible for movement and most actions. It’s embarrassing to admit since I play so many FPS titles, but it is what it is. It just always feels like implementing a sprint mechanic lends itself more favorable with a controller than a mouse and keyboard. And for those who share my disposition, there is full controller support for this game. Console ports also reach out to a wider audience. (EDIT: The recent announcement of the Steam Deck may make this title more accessible on the go.)
Other than that, Cardful Planning can feel a little stiff at times. You do move from space to space, so it’s not there’s not exactly an analog set of directions here. Stiff controls can inhibit a puzzle adventure game, with rage mechanics. The mistakes may not always fall on you, and you’ll blame the game for many deaths. This is lifted with the “Chill” playthrough option, but infinite respawns can make the playthrough a slog if there’s not much incentive to stay alive and completely finish a room on with one life.
The title theme, which is also played in the trailer, is a music track I’ve heard before. The early release of Warfork used the exact same track so it sounded odd to me to hear it again in a completely different game. I’m assuming that this track will change, and am kind of hoping so since it feels a tad out of place. It sounds spacey and futuristic, for a title with crossbows and dungeons. The in game music, is much better and matches the mood.
The only other thing maybe would be the option to map the buttons, since there is no controller option. While many would most likely not change anything, having the option to do so is almost a necessity amongst PC games. It’s like a customizable wardrobe in a Battle Royale, or 2D Fighting game. We play on PC for a reason, no?
It’s a simple game, and that’s totally ok. It’s nice to be reminded of those internet puzzle and rage games, getting more attention in this ever-continuous retro revival. And I’m always happy to add my two-cents to a new project, whether it’s in my area of expertise or not. The puzzles got more complex, but it’s up to the player if their attention is held long enough to complete them all. After a playthrough, there’s not much to return to, aside from the fewest deaths and speed run modes, but that’s just how these games are. Give it a flip!
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