Genre: Adventure, Board Game, Strategy, Puzzle
System: Nintendo Switch (also on iOS and Android)
Developers | Publishers: Filip Loster | SONKA Games
Age Rating: EU 3+ | US E10+
Price: EU €4,99 | USD $4.99 | UK £4.49
Release Date: November 13th, 2020
Review code used, with many thanks to SONKA Games
Unhatched by developer Filip Loster is a story-driven card game with a unique mechanic where every card has different effects depending on how you swipe the card. You’ll play as a dragon trainer reclaiming their freedom through a pact with a mysterious rescuer. Let’s see what there is to this game!
Stuck in the Dungeon
As the game starts you choose whether you want to be Evelyn or Edgar and you discover that you’re a prisoner in the royal dungeon. Royal, yes, but still: a dungeon.
A mysterious rescuer appears, who promises to break you out of the dungeon and meanwhile, he teaches you the basics of the card game. You’ll meet a mask telling you he is the guardian of your mind. The mask accompanies you on your journey throughout the game and gives you one hint before each card battle.
Every action in Unhatched is accomplished by moving the joystick left or right, and pressing the A button. From completing a card puzzle to talking to anyone you meet, to the way the story is told to the player, it’s all done by choosing left or right.
A Dragons Egg
Shortly after leaving the dungeon, you acquire a dragons egg, which of course hatches to reveal a dragon. Then you’ll spend your time playing through the game making decisions such as do you want to turn right or left? You also have to complete weird quests for the card NPC’s. Quests such as open a jar of pickles or inspire the unicorn are all rather odd but they are part of the storyline.
The actual card game plays out similar to a puzzle you have to solve. The goal of each battle is to erode your enemy’s health points down to zero before they do the same to you. At the start of each battle, you’re presented with your inventory in the form of cards. Each item takes on the form of a stack of two cards, such as handcuffs or flint.
Take Your Pick
What’s important is that you can only take six cards in three stacks with you, but you can choose the order of those three stacks. The result is that you’re technically choosing the order of all six cards, but numbers one and four, two and five and three and six are tied together. Each of your cards has two different options when you draw it, which you use by flicking left or right.
For instance, handcuffs might give you the choice between earning one mana point or drawing another card. Certain actions require mana, but if you waste too much time earning more mana than you need, it might give your opponent the opening he needs to defeat you.
Some cards come in blue or red, and part of the strategy is using another card to pull that colour to the top of the deck. Some cards have swords on them that allow you to attack for one, two or three points. Other cards allow you to destroy your opponent’s cards to survive.
As you play through the story you receive more cards, but you also lose cards. This means the deck you pick from at the start of a battle is ever-changing. Unhatched has a fun mechanic that’s easy to learn but hard to master, since each battle is a puzzle. You could play some of them quite a few times before you have solved it.
Trial and Error
When you are picking your cards from the deck, you only have four stacks of two cards to chose from. And all it takes is to leave behind that one stack that is the one you should have included in your pick.
While I realise this is a puzzle game and you find the solution to win each battle, it just feels like a lot of trial and error with picking and arranging the deck to play to solve the puzzle and win. If you do fail in a battle you can just start again without losing anything. You can also surrender a quest and return to it a later time.
Every so often your dragon will take part in a card battle, all that does is change the actions in the cards. Instead of hitting the opponent with a sword for two strikes, the dragon will breathe fire.
Visuals and Controls
While the game looks fine with its hand-drawn cards, there isn’t really much else going on on the screen. Every action or chat with a character is a card, the characters you do meet all make various noises, such as hmm and ahh.
It’s backed up with a soundtrack on repeat that gets repetitive quickly. I spent my time playing Unhatched with the volume turned off. Unhatched controls fine, after all, there are only a few button presses required and the rest of your actions are moving the joystick left or right.
Unhatched is a mobile game ported to the Switch, thankfully without the advertising or IAP that plagues most mobile games.
I did enjoy some of the card battles but it does get repetitive pretty quickly and a lot of the battles are trial and error as I’ve said. The story wasn’t interesting enough to keep me engaged for long.
I like strategy and puzzle games, and while I don’t dislike Unhatched there are better games at the same price to choose from in the eShop.
Final Verdict: I’m Not Sure