FAERIE SOLITAIRE / Subsoap / PC
 
 
Faerie Solitarie is basically video game novacaine. It's a "casual" title of the sort you'd more expect to see on a smartphone or tablet. There's really very little challenge beyond the inherent randomness of drawing cards.

I don't mean any of those things as insults. I actually found the game quite a tonic after a really long day of work, when I just felt like completely disengaging my brain. So it's a very situational game, but it's at least a 3* experience in that particular situation. Which I'm guessing is exactly the demo they were going for - commuters riding the bus or train home and such.
 


So it plays like traditional solitaire (klondike), except instead of clearing your deck using the cards already in the playfield, you're attempting to clear the playfield of cards by gradually adding them to your deck. You have a fixed amount of cards that you turn over one at a time; when you turn over the next card, the previous is out of play forever. You can remove cards with a value of one greater or one less than the current active card. So, say you open with a Jack as the active card. You can pull a Queen or a 10, and whichever you do becomes the next active card. If you've got the option of pulling either, you need to look over the playfield and see if either will lead to a chain combo - for example, pulling the Queen then enables you to pull a King that's out there, then an Ace, then a 2, etc.

That element of scanning the playfield and planning ahead is about all the more strategy and challenge there is to the game. The columns of cards come in all sorts of non-traditional formats to spice things up a bit, and sometimes one or two particular columns will be encased in ice or thorns and you have to work down another column to get the fireball or Roundup to put that column in play, but that's about it. You seem to be given a random deck, but to keep things fair and progessing at a steady clip, the Adventure mode is divided into levels that each contain nine separate games, and you don't have to completely clear each of the games - you just have to make a certain level of overall progress across the course of the nine games, if you reach that threshold you're allowed to move on to the next level.
 


A few other little extras are layered in on top of this. Sometimes you'll find eggs hidden under cards, these hatch into companions who level up when equipped while playing, and once leveled they grant some sort of bonus power when you play with them. You also earn money gradually and have a little Faerie Town that you gradually buy structures for, which also grant extra in-game powers once built. Adventure mode has a simple ongoing story (told entirely through text and 90s-caliber voice narration) where you play as some kid who stumbles into this magical world and has to complete levels to free a bunch of fairies who seem to spend considerable time working their glutes. It's all very basic but it adds a little collect-a-thon element if you're OCD like that.
 


One issue I wasn't aware of the first couple of times I played is that there's a 2007 game from Big Fish called Fairway Solitaire that this is a fairly blatant clone of, in terms of the general structure and gradually buying power-ups to be used in-game. In Subsoap's defense, if you look at their website it seems like faerie-themed games are about all they do across a variety of genres. The Tamagotchi creature-leveling mode is a new addition to the formula, and if you liked Fairway Solitaire this basically gives you a mountain of similar content to plow through. I dunno. Under other circumstances it would be grossly blatant and off-putting but I have a hard time caring about companies like Big Fish that basically make their entire living doing this exact same thing to old arcade and puzzle games.
 
 
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