ReviewsReview: Iris and the Giant

Review: Iris and the Giant


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The deck-building genre is hit-and-miss. Consequently, when you find a great title, you can’t put it down. Alternatively, if you stumble across a stinker, it can be confusing, boring, and a downright turnoff. When I was given Iris and the Giant to review, I didn’t know what to expect. As such, I went into it with my eyes wide open and hoping for a rewarding time.

Developed by Goblinz Studio and published by Klabater, this is a deck-building game. What’s more, it has rogue-like elements, RPG moments, and a touching and melancholy story at its core. Therefore, it has its finger in many pies and had the potential to be confusing and overwhelming. However, a brilliant tutorial and drip-fed mechanics alleviate any fears while setting you up for a tough but enjoyable time.

Iris and the Giant is cruel but touching. 

I’ve never viewed this genre as a sobering experience. However, Iris and the Giant tells a sombre tale of one girl’s inner demons. Subsequently, the tough subject matter may be hard to swallow for some gamers.

You are Iris, a young girl who enters a surreal world as she battles her inner turmoil! Her demons and thoughts manifest themselves as cruel monsters and hideous creatures. What’s more, these abominations are focused on killing Iris to prevent her from finding true peace. Yet, luckily, the young girl finds gifts, memories, and imaginary friends to strengthen her resolve and improve her fortunes. Consequently, with these things by her side, she has every chance of succeeding.

Iris and the Giant demands that you tackle many creatures.
That is some army of creatures.

The story is brilliant, but the gameplay is better still.

The heartfelt story is ever-present, but the gameplay overshadows its brilliant plot. Thanks to the wonderful mechanics, and easy-to-understand ideas, this addictive title can be enjoyed by veterans and newcomers alike. 

Iris is a delicate hero who must balance defence and attack carefully. Furthermore, if she runs out of Will (health) and cards, or is paralysed by Sorrow, her run ends and she doesn’t banish her demons. 

Each level follows a similar pattern. A range of monsters lines up on a grid battlefield to fight you. Alongside them, there are rocky obstacles, treasure chests, memories, items, crystals, and much more. The aim of each stage is to carve a path to a set of stairs. If you make it there alive, you’ll jump to the next level. Moreover, this idea is repeated until you die, or reach the end.

If you die, and you will, you’ll unlock new cards and special bonuses to help you on the next playthrough. However, upsettingly, all other progress is wiped and here is where the evil rogue-like mechanics bite you in the arse.

Choices, choices!

Like its peers, Iris and the Giant has many cards to choose from. What’s more, there is an array of game-changing elements as well. Whether it is magical powers to impact a group of monsters, an axe to annihilate the first row of your enemies, or a bow to fire at will, they are all fantastic. Whatever one you pick will change how each round plays out. As such, you must be flexible with your style and react accordingly.

Alongside this, you’ll need a lot of luck to be successful. Moreover, there are rewards to collect for killing each demon. As such, the more monsters you slay, the more stars you earn. As you fill this meter, you may pick a special ability to make the gameplay harder, or yourself strong. On top of this, if you defeat a mega monster, you’ll improve your weapons, increase your health, or strengthen your shield or spells. Therefore, taking on the big bosses is worthwhile if you have the health or cards to spare. 

Can you unlock every imaginary friend?
Which imaginary friend will you pick?

Mix things up. 

Though the gameplay loop is consistent, you can mix things up thanks to Iris’ memories and the bonus cards you receive en route. Alongside this, you’ll find imaginary friends to help you out as well. Each of these key items is imperative to your success, so making the most of them is essential.

As you progress, you find memory tiles. If you can collect these valuable assets, they will add a permanent buff to your hero. As such, this is necessary when you aim to reach the latter stages. Moreover, it enhances the tactical nuance and gives you plenty of new ideas to consider.

The bonus cards are a temporary boost and change depending on how successful you are on each run. Accordingly, the more demons you slay, and the harder the beasts you encounter, the more advanced cards you get. Therefore, in theory, the further you progress, the better the bonus and the easier it is to edge closer to the finish line. 

Finally, your imaginary friends enhance your skills while serving as side quests. To find each one is a bit of an RNG scenario. However, unlocking each one is no mean feat! Whether you must get to a certain stage quickly, kill certain creatures, or reach a specific level, you’ll struggle repeatedly. Yet, it was this challenge that enhanced the gameplay while adding another layer of difficulty.

Iris and the Giant is beautifully simple and wonderful to look at. 

This genre can be guilty of repetition and simple stage design. Alternatively, the developers can go crazy and create an OTT and overwhelming world with confusing UI. Thankfully, Iris and the Giant not only looks great, but the UI is perfect as well. The melancholy atmosphere is exposed in the short but cruel cinematic. What’s more, each character model is aggressive, nasty, and ugly. Furthermore, this is wonderfully juxtaposed with the heroine’s delicate and soft appearance. As such, this beautifully portrays the good vs evil element of the story.

The audio comprises distinct songs for each element of the gameplay. During the cinematic, there is limited music and a focus on words and silence set the scene. However, each battle blends aggressive tunes and simple sound effects to great effect.

The monsters come in all shapes and sizes.
I don’t fancy my chances against the big one.

Good controls with some minor flaws. 

Iris and the Giant is a surprisingly straightforward affair. Furthermore, the more you experiment, the more tactical elements you’ll find. However, occasionally, it can be tough to select the right card! For unknown reasons, the game automatically cancels your selection if you go back to your cards. This minor issue wasn’t game-breaking, but it was irritating and it prevented the game from being immersive.

By including rogue-like elements, Iris and the Giant was dangerously moreish. Subsequently, once you got to grips with the basics and you began unlocking the special elements, it was both fascinating and fantastic to play. As such, it was an addictive game that was tough to put down. 

Iris and the Giant was a pleasant surprise!

Iris and the Giant impressed me with its excellent, albeit hard-to-swallow story. Additionally, the blend of genres and side quests helps to keep you focused and entertained throughout. However, it can become repetitive, especially during the early stages. What’s more, the occasionally awkward controls were frustrating. Yet, it was still a pleasant surprise and I recommend that you buy it here! Can you banish the demons that haunt you? Fight, plan, and travel further as you banish your inner turmoil and seek peace. 


Iris and the Giant is a cruel and melancholy deck-building title. Furthermore, there are rogue-like mechanics, some RPG elements, and a touching story. What's more, I loved the artistry and the audio. Sadly, repetition and occasionally awkward controls taint the otherwise phenomenal experience.

+ Simple but effective visuals.
+ Distinct audio.
+ Challenging but rewarding deck-building elements.
+ A sorrowful plot.
+ A brilliant example of the genre.

- It can become repetitive.
- The controls are clumsy at times.

(Rating: PEGI 7 Mild Violence Release date: 02/03/2023 Price: £12.49+)

(Reviewed on the Xbox Series X. Also available on Xbox One, PC (Steam), Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5)

Daniel Waite
Daniel Waite
My gaming career started on an Amiga and spans many consoles! Currently, I game using an MSI laptop and Xbox Series X. A fan of every genre, I love to give anything a go. Former editor and reviewer for, I'm loving my new home here at Movies Games and Tech. I can be contacted for gaming reviews on the following email:

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<p class="has-text-align-justify" style="font-size:14px"><em>Iris and the Giant</em> is a cruel and melancholy deck-building title. Furthermore, there are rogue-like mechanics, some RPG elements, and a touching story. What's more, I loved the artistry and the audio. Sadly, repetition and occasionally awkward controls taint the otherwise phenomenal experience.</p><br/> + Simple but effective visuals.<br/> + Distinct audio.<br/> + Challenging but rewarding deck-building elements.<br/> + A sorrowful plot.<br/> + A brilliant example of the genre.<br/> <br/> - It can become repetitive.<br/> - The controls are clumsy at times.<br/> <br/> <p class="has-text-align-center" style="font-size:10px">(<b>Rating:</b> PEGI 7 Mild Violence <b>Release date:</b> 02/03/2023 <b>Price:</b> £12.49+)</p><br/> <p class="has-text-align-center" style="font-size:10px">(Reviewed on the Xbox Series X. Also available on Xbox One, PC (Steam), Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5)</p><br/>Review: Iris and the Giant