I mentioned in this week’s Deal of the Week article that I was really glad that Faerie Solitaire had come around because I then had an excuse to talk about it. Well, as a follow up to that comment, I thought it would be a good thing to take a closer look at the game for this week’s review to expand on that rather pithy statement. Released in 2010 by Subsoap, Faerie Solitaire is at its heart a fairly straightforward card game with some interesting twists that is propelled along by a gentle story about the Faerie Kingdom being in danger. When I saw it on Steam Weeklong I decided to give it a shot because I really enjoy card games as a way to pass half an hour or so and it was so cheap that I figured if I got just an hour out of it I was on to a winner. Well, as I mentioned on Monday, I have over 9 hours on it, most of them gained over a two week period, when in truth I should have been playing other games to review them! So what’s the big deal? Let’s take a closer look.
Faerie Solitaire’s Adventure mode, which is the main part of the game, starts with a cut-scene drawn in a charming art style where you wake from a dream about a trapped fairy that needs to be rescued. Leaving the safety of your bed in search of the damsel in distress, thus starts an adventure that will take you through several varied stages where you search for faeries in need of your aid. Each beautifully drawn stage is made up of multiple levels which are in turn split into 9 hands of solitaire. Each level focusses around doing well enough in each hand to eventually free a small trapped faerie (indicated by filling the purple bar at the top of the screen on each hand) and between the levels the narrator tells more of the surprisingly engaging story. One of the things I enjoyed most about Faerie Solitaire was that the story which was not only interesting, it also had the good grace to step out of the way so that you could get on with playing the game.
The hands themselves feature a variation on the solitaire game that I know as Golf, which has always been one of my favourites as it is easy to play, but you need a killer combination of luck and skill to actually win a hand. The basic concept – draw a card and then built runs of consecutive cards regardless of suit – is straightforward enough, and Faerie Solitaire also adds additional layers of complexity by adding barriers to certain columns of cards whether in the form or thorns or ice walls. The cards are also laid out in interesting patterns which can step the challenge up significantly.
Along the way, you earn in game currency which you can use to regenerate Faerie Land and earn yourself some pretty sweet power ups, such as being able to peep at the next card in the stack, or the Aura ring which allows you to grab any legal card and pop it on top of your discard pile, ready for use. This can be very handy for clearing that last pesky card, or for building up legendary card streaks. Speaking of card streaks, you will also find cards that simply have a number on them and sit quietly at the edge of the screen. It took me a long time to figure out how to use these, but basically they drop a card of the numbered value on top of the card stack. No more legal matches but you’re on a killer streak? No worries, drop one of these babies and you can play a 9 straight on to a 2. This is especially useful because awesome card streaks earn lots of in game currency, sometimes more than the award for a “perfect” hand where you clear all of the cards.
As well as releasing tiny trapped faeries, each level also has one or more objectives to complete before you can proceed. These range from the fairly straightforward “Earn x amount of cash” to the sphincter tightening “Get 3 or more Perfects”. Most of the time these objectives will be completed by playing normally, but some, especially the objectives that require a particularly epic card streak, require a little planning. I found that as some of the objectives were quite challenging, they gave me reason to sink yet another hour or so into the game, just to appease my perfectionist streak.
Also along the way, you will find strange rocks, logs and piles of blue dust. At first I was confused by these items, but once I found an egg all became clear. It turns out that Faerie Solitaire also has pets which are found as eggs at random during play. Hatching a pet reveals it in its baby form and by making it active it gains XP as you play. Once it has enough XP it can evolve into its adult form, which requires the use of resources AKA all that random junk you’ve been collecting. The pets don’t seem to do much other than look cute and it would have been great to see them add small bonuses once they have reached adult hood. Still, there are 8 freaking pages of these things and my completionism simply won’t shut up until I’ve “hatched ’em all” to abuse a phrase.
In addition to the adventure mode, which forms the bulk of the game, there is also a Quickplay mode that lets you replay any level you wish and Challenge mode, which is a selection of 5 additional locations where the difficulty has been dialled up to 11. All in all, you get quite a lot of game for your money, especially if you are patient and wait for it to come round on a Weeklong.
All things considered, I get a lot of enjoyment out of Faerie Solitaire and I was really surprised at how much it drew me in. I love the art style, the slightly twee but charming story, and even the sound effects pleased my ears. If you enjoy card games or even just casual games in general, I think it’s well worth a look due to the pleasing design, solid implementation and interesting story. I only had two issues with it – it couldn’t draw full screen on my 24″ monitor and I couldn’t put it down! A great little game and I’m looking forward to the sequel!
Faerie Solitaire is developed and published by Subsoap and is available on Steam for Windows and Mac. The RRP is £6.99, but it is currently on sale (until 21/9/15) for £0.34