Reviews - Updated on April 3, 2022

Collectible card games with roguelike and tactical strategy elements continue to appear regularly on Steam, and their authors continue to experiment with the format. Today, the next step is the tactical experience of the developers of Trials of Fire. What is so interesting about the game that Polygon called almost the best among CCGs?

Interesting lore

As such, there is practically no full-fledged plot in Trials of Fire. There is a common standard disposition – everything is bad, there are enemies and monsters around, people are looking at you with hope, and now it’s your turn. And there are different quest-modules (yes, like in board games), designed for different passage times, and sometimes for different heroes.

The central module, Trials of Fire itself, assumes that we will be looking for the leader of a certain settlement who went in search of another important artifact. The rest are about the same – find the components for a very necessary thing, get a relic that will save your people, save your allies, and so on. And that’s all – we recruit a group of three heroes of different classes and hit the road to the global map.

Trials of Fire: Обзор

The fact that there is only one main quest is clearly temporary.

In general, everything is superficial, it would seem. However, the game has a very elaborate “lore”. For example, you are reading a standard task – go there and find someone. Hover over the name of a place, and you will see four paragraphs of small text detailing the history of the city. Hover over the name of the person you need to find, and a certificate about who it is will fly out. You meet local rat-men, and you are told in detail the history of this people. And so constantly. As a result, reading this, you are much more deeply immersed in what is happening.

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Thank God, the Russian language has been added to the game.

Flexible settings and modifications

In Trials of Fire, a lot is taken from the board games. On the map, we move a figure that personifies our group, and in battles, characters are completely represented by chips. In addition, as I said, many different quest modules are built into the game, designed for different passage times. Plus, there are daily, purely combat (without quests) and seasonal tests with their own tasks and conditions – for example, in the daily ones you cannot change the set of heroes chosen by the authors.

And for the main quest, the conditions allow you to flexibly customize yourself – in addition to choosing the complexity and size of the world, there are interesting modifications that can make it easier or, conversely, complicate the passage. You can, for example, make it so that the armor does not provide protection or that all characters deal double damage with any attack.

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There are many modifiers, but you can’t turn them all on at once.

Many classes

In any case, passing modules and tests is useful, even if you don’t win there – you earn points for the rating, characters earn experience and pass tests, which allows you to open new cards and classes of heroes. And if at first only the basic hunter, warrior and elementalist are open, then the alchemist, commander and others join them. There are nine classes in total in the game, and in most cases, at the start, you determine both the composition of the party and the weapon that you will take with you.

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To open new classes, certain conditions must be met.

Nonlinearity and important decisions

Moving around the map, we constantly stumble upon certain events, other groups, “points of interest” and settlements. And each time you need to decide what to do – try to save someone from the same rat people and get a new follower (I’ll talk about them later) or pass by; stand up for people who are robbed by marauders, or approach the leader of the bandits and bargain with him profitably; catch a thief with jewelry by the hand, turn her in and return the stolen goods or negotiate with her; try to look around empty houses/ruins with a chance to find something useful or, conversely, get into trouble. Well, and so on – there are enough options, although many begin to repeat themselves from module to module.

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The map is always full of interesting places.

Many decisions have different chances that we will get a difficult battle, a good reward, new equipment (better if epic or legendary), a pack of resources, or, conversely, one of the characters will earn a minus to health, or even get trauma. Among the latter, there are even psychological ones that make you attack your own.

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Some decisions require a certain character in the group.

Here you need to survive

Injuries are automatically removed after defeating quest bosses, as well as while resting with the help of rare herbs – at the same time, undermined health for units of food is restored.

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Injuries can accumulate.

Camping is also useful for other reasons – on vacation, you can improve equipment and cards, create or remove one of them from the deck. All this takes different resources and materials. And the aforementioned followers improve crafting/upgrade effects or reduce their cost. By the way, followers are also allowed to improve.

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Right now, you need to rest.

In addition, when resting for food, we restore the stamina of the group, which is spent as we move along the map. And we also need to maintain the mental state of the detachment, which decreases when we make bad decisions. And low stamina and low morale, of course, lead to fines. So, in battles, curse cards regularly fall into your hand instead of useful ones.

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Some curses can’t even be completely broken.

Deep tactical possibilities

Combat in Trials of Fire is turn-based, with all attacks, moves, and actions represented by cards. Each class has its own starting deck, where there are both common to all and unique actions. It is clear that the hunter has more ranged attacks, the warrior has more melee attacks, and the elementalist has more magical ones. But these are the simplest examples. After gaining new levels, they are allowed to add one new class card, but this does not expand the deck – you have to throw something out in return. And this is only the first reason for tactical reflections and decisions.

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Equipment also adds new cards to the deck – this is the best way to increase it.

The second reason has to do with the fact that the will points needed to perform most actions in combat only accumulate when we discard cards. That is, in order to attack or impose a “buff”, you need to decide which of the characters will sacrifice and what. There are, of course, cards that give bonuses to the accumulation of energy under different conditions, but they are not used for free either – again, something will have to be discarded. Moreover, you will be allowed to complete your turn only when each of your wards has a maximum of one card left. In general, think.

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Often you have to throw everything away.

Finally, fighters don’t just stand in their places and lay out cards – they can and should move. Melee damage can only be dealt to an enemy in an adjacent cell, while magical and ranged attacks will require you to get within range. It is also often necessary to take into account that there are always obstacles on the battlefield like trees and stones that can block a shot. Other buildings do damage to everyone in the affected area.

Finally, when fighters are next to each other and one of them attacks the enemy, the rest automatically beat him too – these are called combo attacks, and there are cards that enhance their effect. In general, you have to think about movement and the correct tactical positioning all the time. By discarding cards and wisely positioning the characters, you can reduce the impact of randomness on what is happening.

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Now there’s a combo!

Trials of Fire turned out to be not the best CCG, but certainly one of the most original and thoughtful in terms of tactical mechanics. In this sense, it is almost hardcore – even on the average difficulty level, it is not easy, especially in battles with bosses that use their own tricks. So even if you are not particularly fond of CCGs, but love turn-based tactics, then feel free to launch Trials of Fire – you will receive both a challenge and a feeling of deep satisfaction when you adequately answer it.

Pros: elaborate “lor”; exciting tactical gameplay that combines TCG, roguelike, turn-based battles and a survival simulator; many events in which you need to make decisions; even if there are no three-dimensional character models, but in general the picture pleases; atmospheric music.

Cons: there is practically no plot; generally primitive quests; The balance between classes still needs to be brought to mind.

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