Card games. Tactical strategy. Cute pixel art. Cats and dogs at war. There’s a lot going for Turf Raiders Card Battle, a free-to-play Android game by Wappworks Studio, but does it all actually end up working together?
In Turf Raiders, you play as the leader of a horde of blue kitty commandos (they look more like squirrel…bear…things to me, but hey! Still cute!) on a mission to collect energy cubes known as gluons which power your defenses against the diabolical red dog hoards. In order to do this, you and your enemy take turns playing cards that have a variety of abilities, such as summoning units to the grid-like field, moving your own or your opponent’s units, or even getting rid of your opponent’s units! Each part of the grid yields certain items, such as gluons or cash which is essential to being able to play cards at all. In essence, Turf Raiders is a tactical area control game in a vein similar to the classic board game Risk.
Despite its strategic leanings, Turf Raiders is simple and easy to learn. After a few tutorial levels, the player is thrown right into over forty different missions which all feature different field layouts and enemies that get increasingly aggressive. While it’s a free game, there is an in-app currency that allows you to buy ‘Perks’: one-use items such as extra cash or cards to give you an edge over your opponent. I found that I usually had enough of the currency available that I didn’t really need to opt for actually buying more.
Turf Raiders feels like a game that appears simple but actually hides complex and engaging strategy beneath the surface. If only this were true. The game is awkward, teetering on the edge between something casual and light and something deeper, something that I need to sit down and consider. There are elements which are annoyingly slow, such as having to touch the screen every time both my opponent and I draw a new hand. The cash as the beginning of my turn takes way too long to auto-gather to me. I end up just touching on the little sprites myself to have them available faster. These are, admittedly, minor grievances, but the constant touching for aspects that should be automatic wore down on me. It was tough to continue in this war of attrition, having to convince myself to play the next mission and deal with the weird slowness of it all.
I like cute games with adorable characters, but maybe Turf Raiders was also a little too cute for me. The bouncy music became repetitive, speeding up to a stressful crescendo at odd intervals, leading me to eventually turning it off. Overall, I was saddened that Turf Raiders became an unpleasant, tedious experience for me. Perhaps some tightening up of certain mechanics and a little more variation in music and animations would improve the experience, but for now this is a game I’d rather skip.
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