Review Context: I enjoy playing all types of card games. I played Cultist Simulator years ago and it was my first time playing a narrative card game.
Date of Playthrough: September 2022
PC Specs Game Played on:
OS: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
Processor: Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-9700F CPU @ 3.00GHz
Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 SUPER
Disclosure: This review is based off of a review copy provided for free.
Foretales, developed by Alkemi, is a card game unlike the kind of games like Hearthstone or Slay The Spire. I entered my experience having played Cultist Simulator years ago, a game I can most closely compare it to, but Foretales is a much different beast, There are many games that utilize cards these days, but few games know how to give life to cards in order to keep players interested, motivated, and entertained. Foretales manages to do all three.
The universe in Foretales features anthropomorphic characters, with Volepain, a talking bird, as the main character. Volepain quickly finds himself on a mission to try to stop a curse affecting the world around him. The missions you choose and decisions made during missions will impact the story. One of the first things you’ll notice is how beautiful the game looks. The colorful visuals in card art, cutscenes, and animations throughout the game are major factors that will keep you engaged to finish the story. During the course of your playthrough you’ll make many friends and allies that will join you, and your decisions will impact their fate. Along with every ally comes their own unique set of cards. I found myself having to make hard decisions of what allies to use during missions because each of them had their own unique flavor and card advantages.
What I like the best about Foretales is how easy it is to understand. Every ally has a certain amount of cards, plus you have the resources of gold, food, fame, and grim to use that are accumulated and spent based on how you play your cards. The basic gameplay loop is playing your ally cards or resource cards on location cards in the middle of the board that can result in giving or taking away resources, seeing new location cards, and/or receiving temporary ally cards and unique resources that can be used to help your survival. Occasionally you’ll have to deal with enemies occupying location cards through combat. Violence is not always the answer, as you can pay your enemies off with gold, use your fame, give them food, or spend grim to get them to flee. How you deal with encounters on location cards and enemy combatants can greatly impact how the mission experience will be.
I like to think of Foretales as a “Choose Your Own Adventure” game that uses cards. One of the best things about the game is the implementation of tooltips when hovering an ally card over a location card. This allows you to see the consequences of that card play before it happens, Some people might contend that this makes the game too easy, but I beg to differ. Imagine reading a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book and only the knowing the page numbers, but not the choice itself. You’d be aimlessly turning pages. The tooltip system gives you just enough control of how you want the interaction to play out. It’s also useful for making it easier to remember combinations of cards used to avoid wasting resources and having a bad time.
Once you’ve grasped the gameplay mechanics you become fully immersed in the game. Instead of feeling like you have to fight the cards, you know how to achieve certain outcomes to make a choice in the mission. It doesn’t hurt that the game has a catchy soundtrack by composer Christophe Héral (Beyond Good & Evil, Rayman Legends) with music fitting the emotion and locations of the story. Adding even more flavor is narration by Travis Willingham (Critical Role, The Legend of Vox Machina), The game has some voice acting and narration, but it’s generally a mixture that ends up meshing much better halfway through rather than the beginning.
The mission selection roadmap is presented in a way so you know what each mission does and what you chose not to do. Given the choices, a second playthrough is definitely possible for a different experience, but I only played it through once. My biggest gripe with the game is that it makes it harder for the player to experience or replay everything. I ended my playthrough with a not so satisfying ending and it shot me back to the beginning of the story. I realized (I think) what mistake I probably made, but due to the save system and the way the game is designed I would have to play the entire game again to reach the last mission to play it differently. If I were to play the game through again I would want to make changes across all missions, and not the same choices just to reach the end. Playing the same choices just to reach the same point would be boring. That’s why changing the save system or adding the ability to replay missions would benefit the game greatly.
Foretales is a game I went in with minimal expectations and thought it even might be intimidating, but it ended up being quite enjoyable and entertaining featuring interesting characters like talking birds, elephants, tigers, and other animals. Although I would have liked another shot at my ending without having to do it all over again, it was still a very fulfilling experience. Hopefully Alkemi considers making another game in this same game style that improves upon Foretales. I’m now a fan.
Similar Games Liked:
Cultist Simulator (PC)