Reviews - Updated on April 3, 2022

Among the collectible card “bagels” in the spirit of Slay the Spire – an interesting addition. The French from Tavrox Games and Goblinz Publishing (Legend of Keepers, Snowtopia) have released Neurodeck: Psychological Deckbuilder, a game where we fight not with goblins or demons, but with our own phobias. And we defeat them with aromatherapy, an anti-stress ball, psychological tests, random thoughts, outbursts of anger, fortune cookies and even … monthly. Yes, yes, do not be surprised, because the heroines of the game are women. One of them is an Asian woman who dreams that she slept with a neighbor. Ready to learn more about psychiatric CCI with a touch of feminism and the notorious agenda?

Girls’ best friends are psychologists!

In fact, about feminism and the agenda, I hyped a little, so to speak. Yes, there are these motives, the Asian woman really talks about how she feels uncomfortable when at parties they begin to pay attention to her appearance. There are themes, phobias and cards about the “toxic environment”. But it was not filed head-on, and no one really imposes anything. And yes, the girl really had a dream about how she slept with a neighbor – although she does not like her. That is, it is rather psychology, a dream of the mind and other games of the subconscious.

Neurodeck: Psychological Deckbuilder: Обзор

In addition to dreams, there are also such “social memories”.

And the fact that the main characters are female is also not surprising. From my own experience, I know that it is women who are especially passionate about psychology – and you probably stumbled across their social networks with sheets of quotes from the next psychological “guru”. So the point here is not feminism, but a statement of fact.

Do you feel some irony in my words? That’s right, she is. But in the case of the heroines of Neurodeck: Psychological Deckbuilder, everything is much more serious – they don’t post on VK here, but fight real fears, including agoraphobia, tocophobia, mysophobia, nosophobia, herpetophobia and many other phobias. There is a fear of childbirth, germs and slugs, a fear of the crowd and a panicky horror that someone will touch you.

Neurodeck: Psychological Deckbuilder: Обзор

A list of open phobias is always available in your Collection.

Two destinies, two women…

There are two heroines, and they struggle with all these phobias in many ways (although, of course, there are common points). One, the same Asian, a young student named Lei, came to study from another country and now does not feel very comfortable in the new environment. The second is the rather elderly Jupiter, who raised a large family, and now, after everyone has gone in all directions, she can finally rest.

Neurodeck: Psychological Deckbuilder: Обзор

To open Jupiter, you need to successfully complete the run at least once.

In fact, this is an analogue of classes that have their own skills and mechanics. It is clear that each has energy and health (here it is called adequacy – when it is reset to zero, the character goes crazy and loses), where the first one is spent on using cards. In addition, there is a limit on the number of actions per turn. So, Lay can spend the remaining actions in order not to lay out cards from his hand, but to concentrate and draw a new one. Jupiter in the same situation will receive a Meditation point – this is her unique resource, which, when accumulated, allows you to make additional moves. Accordingly, she has many cards that are designed to combine some effects with others.

Neurodeck: Psychological Deckbuilder: Обзор

Can meditation help with postpartum depression?

… And six decks

There are, of course, other differences, including in the names of the cards. The wiser Jupiter prefers Walking in the Woods, Old Movies, and Doing Homework with the Kids. With student Lei, everything is, of course, different – “Hugs” with her beloved, “Cozy bed”, “Home party” and so on.

Although it all depends on what decks you use. They differ in emotions. Lay initially has a deck of joy available, where there are all these hugs and parties, then Anger opens, where there are already Flashes of Anger, Angry Look, Indignation and Wall Kicks. Here, special emphasis is placed on anger cards that increase damage to the enemy. And the surprise deck is given uniqueness by “Gifts” – they inflict damage on phobias, and give an additional action, and immediately copy themselves to the discard pile.

Neurodeck: Psychological Deckbuilder: Обзор

The “Shopping” card resolves all “Gifts” from the hand.

And Jupiter initially gives out a deck of sadness, where in addition to “Watching an old movie” and “Walking in the forest”, there is also “Loneliness”, “Frown” and three classic stages – “Denial”, “Depression” and “Acceptance”.

When you are terribly afraid of the sun, and depression, and sadness, and loneliness are guaranteed.

Does the name change change anything?

It is clear that behind all these names are things familiar from the CCG – dealing damage, healing, adding various “buffs”, discarding or adding cards, and so on. There are also actions that allow you to use consumable items at the right time. Some effects are best stacked and combined, as is the case with the Meditation mentioned above.

Neurodeck: Psychological Deckbuilder: Обзор

This is one of the main bosses.

The gameplay scheme itself is taken almost directly from Slay the Spire and similar “bagels”. During boss runs, we choose where to go next – add a new card to the deck, remove or transform, improve parameters (that is, increase energy reserves or adequacy), or unlock something for future playthroughs. There is also an option to draw a card from the deck of other emotions. That is, you are free to edit the deck flexibly enough and develop your own tactics.

Neurodeck: Psychological Deckbuilder: Обзор

To unlock new cards for the next races, you need to answer stupid questions.

In addition, you can roll up delicious ravioli and other foods to increase energy or fitness before the next fight. Well, what about in a game about girls and psychology without psychological tests? Here they open character traits and global passive bonuses. We answer questions like “Do you prefer to stay at home with a book or go to a party” and as a result we get a label of sociable or withdrawn, lazy or persistent, introvert or extrovert, sophisticated personality or, conditionally, cracker with “animal instincts”.

This gives interesting effects – for example, if you have Perseverance, then when the energy level drops to zero, the phobia will automatically lose 10 health points. And a refined personality automatically receives five points of energy upon restoration of adequacy. True, all this, of course, is weakly connected with psychology and real character traits.

Neurodeck: Psychological Deckbuilder: Обзор

There are also topical questions in such tests.

It won’t be enough

The problem is that now there is little content in Neurodeck: each attempt is designed for about two dozen stages, and then everything goes to the main menu, starting over, unlocking, perhaps, something new. There are not too many phobias either. And soon you will find out everything about them – one, for example, loves to impose a state of anxiety that causes damage to us every move, the other loves to block, so in a fight with her you need to use actions that increase damage if the enemy has block status. Well, and so on.

Neurodeck: Psychological Deckbuilder: Обзор

Some phobias impose several unpleasant psychological effects at once.

That is, tactics and decks are quickly learned by heart. Cards, phobias, psychological tests and even the dreams of the heroines – everything starts to repeat itself. All that remains is to increase the difficulty of the races by setting special conditions – for example, so that at the beginning of each battle the player is subjected to the effect of anxiety, which lasts until we remove it.

Plus, there is a test system similar to chess puzzles: how, for example, to survive if the next move your opponent immediately takes away all your health? True, there are only five such problems.

Phobias are animated in a very stylish way.

The authors of Neurodeck: Psychological Deckbuilder managed to attract attention with an original approach to the classic CCG roguelike genre – they invited us to play for sensitive ladies who are afraid of germs, childbirth and hugs. But so far there is too little depth and content (and also depth of content) to recognize this as a meaningful statement. It remains to be hoped that the developers will develop the project – perhaps they will add something about male psychology.

Pluses: an original look at the concept of a card “bagel”; relevant social topics; atmospheric picture and sound.

Cons: The game lacks depth and content; a fairly superficial view of psychology.

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