Publisher: Sidereal Studio
Developer: Sidereal Studio
Release: April 7th, 2021
Reviewed on: PC
Quinterra is a beautifully looking strategy card game with roguelike elements. Unfortunately, it’s marred with an over complicated system and unbalanced game play. While the game looks great and has a lot of potential, it’s rather frustrating to play.
To start with, Quinterra provides you with a tutorial, which I highly recommend going through. In a lot of ways, the game reminds me of Magic the Gathering, both with the beautiful art design of each character and with the concept of drafting elements that allow you to play different characters. While the tutorial walks you through the basics of the game, there are a lot of elements of the game that aren't explained at all in the tutorial and you learn on your own.
The game looks and feels a lot like a board game. The board is a set of hexagons, and on each hexagon is an element or a set of elements that you draft or collect. You use the elements to prepare your elite warriors in the game. You begin each round with the drafting process. When you are in draft mode, you can see the different elements each tile has to offer. There are five different elements in the game, and each elite warrior has different elements that are needed to play that character. After you draft the element from the tile, the tile falls off the board for that round.
Each time you draft, you get to keep the elements you drafted. These are used for crystals, that you can apply to your elite warriors to make them more powerful. One trick to drafting elements, you need to match the previous elements you drafted from the last round to be able to build up on your elements. For example, if you drafted two waters in one round, you need to find a tile that has two water elements and that has an additional element besides the two waters, if you want that additional element.
After the draft phase is complete and you selected your elite warrior, now it’s time to lay down your characters on the board. There are two aspects that you need to pay attention to when playing characters, command points which are used to summon minions and structures, and mana, which is used to summon elites. Drafting the elements only puts the elite warrior in your hand, to actually play the elite warrior, you need to use mana. At the beginning of each round, you are given one command point and three mana points and you can have a max of two command points and twelve mana points. Each character lists how much mana and command points you need to spend to play the character.
Each character will have their attack, health, and any armor listed on the card. Elites also have abilities, some are active abilities which will allow you to do certain actions, like health near by characters, and some are passive abilities, and will only trigger when you complete a certain set of actions or meet a certain condition.
You can only have one copy of an elite on the board at one time and up to two copies of a minor or structure on the board at one time. If an elite character dies, the amount of mana you need to spend to put them back on the board increases for a certain number of rounds. Keeping your elites alive is key to winning the game.
If you think this is all complicated, you’re not wrong. There’s a lot to this game and if you are the type of person that plays a game and then goes back to it after taking a break, you’re going to feel lost and frustrated and will probably have to go through the tutorial again. The tutorial is pretty short and does walk you through the basics of the game and it’s always available in the menu, so that’s a positive that the game has going for it.
But the real frustration comes when you are playing the game. In the campaign, you explore the overworld map where you’ll find icons for combat missions. Each mission will have different difficulty settings, the more stars the mission has assigned to it, the more difficult the mission is. However, it doesn’t seem to matter, as every time you play, the computer seems to be able to put down stronger cards than you can. Most of the missions will require you to beat the boss, and the boss usually has triple the amount of health and damage than any of your elites can muster. The game is so unbalanced that after a few rounds of playing you want to quit. Even the opponent's minions tend to have more health and attack than your elite characters do. It’s a shame, because the game is beautiful and while the learning curve is a bit high, it’s manageable, but the unbalanced battle mechanics are no fun at all.
Final Grade: D
You can tell a lot of time and effort went into building the strategy elements of the game. And the artwork for each character is really well done. But there is an art to finding the balance between making the game too complicated, and this game crosses that line. Learning curve aside, the actual balance of the game when you take on the computer is out of whack and makes for a frustrating experience. There is no easing the player into the game, even the “easier” battles are extremely frustrating. If the balance was handled properly, this would be a much more enjoyable experience. As it stands, it’s not much fun.