Nadir from Crunching Koalas and Black Eye Games is a grimdark deck-builder experience on Nintendo Switch. Learn more in our Nadir review!
Nadir from Crunching Koalas and Black Eye Games is a grimdark deck-builder experience on Nintendo Switch. You’ll need to make your way through the circles of hell as you battle against deadly creatures that embody the deadly sins. Face Beelzebub in gluttony, go up against Asmodeus in Lust, or challenge Lucifer the Morning Star in heresy. As you go deeper and deeper, you’ll collect resources to rebuild the City of Nadir as you work your way through each different node type on your journey.
The tutorial will be presented to you by Friedrich Nietzche. To play cards, you’ll have to rely on your opponent. No, really. You see, your cards will have a red ability or a blue ability to trigger. Instead of spending mana or energy that regenerates every turn, cards are activated if their cost can be covered by the cost of the colored cards that your enemy is currently showing. The cards that you play will affect how your opponent’s hand starts to shape up, so you’ll have to balance things out by planning accordingly and staying one step ahead. If you redraw your hand, you better be ready for the enemy’s special
The first character you’ll be able to play as is Jeanne D’Arc. She’s a balanced character that will allow you to get the hang of things as you get the hang of things and improve your strategy by learning from your mistakes. She won’t have as large of a total set of cards as the other two characters, but that’s not a bad thing since it will allow you to focus on building a solid strategy without running into any cards that could break your groove. What can you expect from her deck and the cards you can add along the way?
She starts with cards that can deal good basic damage, prevent some damage from enemies, or add rage. Each point of rage will boost Jeanne’s overall strength, which means you can deal extra damage by taking into account this score multiplier. Finding the right time to strike with a mighty hit is crucial if you want to survive a full run in Nadir. You’ll also have to use cards that restore some of your HP, combined with cards that add a buff here or maybe even a card that can grant a chance to counter.
Collect resources and rebuild structures to add new elements. Rebuild the Emporium to be able to unlock the shop node on the map. Rebuild the Altar of the Dark Embrace, and your character will be healed when moving to a new circle. Spend resources to rebuild the Throne of Want, and you can start each new expedition with some extra soulshards. Rebuilding the Forge of Hatred will unlock wrath enemies for subsequent runs. Taking care of the Gardens of Desire will unlock lust enemies. What will you do with the resources you collect?
You can also rebuild some structures to add additional characters. You can add Vlad Tepes to the equation by playing through the game as Jeanne D’Arc several times and obtaining enough resources. Yes, that Vlad. The Impaler. Vlad can get the job done by using his status ailment cards to chip away at an opponent’s health. You’ve probably guessed by now that he’ll make the most of status ailments such as bleeding. Oh, and he’ll also be able to use devour abilities that will heal some of his HP, depending on how much damage he deals.
Stacking up bleeding is going to be the best option possible since it can help to deal constant damage for every action that an opponent performs in combat. Vlad’s starting deck is not as balanced as Jeanne’s, but it does offer some interesting changes to how you’ll approach earlier battles. Vlad does the Impaler part justice by starting with an impale ability that can deal devouring damage to heal his wounds. Choosing some abilities that deal decay on an opponent will also help since that will boost how much damage they receive when attacked.
And then there’s Hernan Cortes. You know, the Spanish Conquistador who went up against the Aztec empire. As a heads-up, you should know that Hernan Cortes starts with what could be considered a low HP total compared to Jeanne D’Arc and Vlad the Impaler. That means that any mistake that you make along the way will cost you dearly, bringing him one step closer to oblivion. Something that makes Hernan Cortes different is how he can have wraiths by his side.
Wraiths are supernatural entities that will come into action, ready to take a bite at whatever it is you’re fighting. A wraith can then be evoked to perform that action once again, which does not mean it’s removed from play! Since you can have up to three active wraiths at once, you should work on having a group under your command as soon as possible so that you can exploit their skills to deal damage, provide extra armor, heal some HP, or add a bit of counter to deal damage after an enemy’s attack.
As for what is going to rub some people the wrong way, the game’s resolution when played in Portable or Tabletop Mode – or on a Nintendo Switch Lite – is a bit low, which makes it hard to read all of the text describing what an ability does and what its effects are. This is usually the case for games that make their way from PC to consoles. On top of that, the way you progress through each circle is going to be different from what you’re used to from other deck-building experiences.
As you move through each level of a circle, you’ll find different types of nodes that will feel familiar. There are nodes for combat, elite combat, shops, editing your deck and creating new cards, and other nodes that you can unlock by rebuilding structures back at the City of Nadir. While in other deck-builders you can select nodes as you go by taking diverging paths so that you can get to the nodes you need, in Nadir, the first node you select on a level in a circle will always need to be either a combat or elite combat node. That means that you better make the most of the nodes on the previous tier before you press the X button to advance further into the circle.
Nadir offers a grimdark deck-builder experience on Nintendo’s console that manages to mix things around for a game that is different from other deck-builders you might have played. Whether this is a good thing or bad thing will depend on if the gameplay loop clicks with you or not. Battles will tend to drag for longer than expected – which is twice as true for elite battles – so if you’re used to a faster-paced experience, this one won’t be for you. Nadir is out on Nintendo Switch at a $19.99 asking price.
This Nadir review is based on a Nintendo Switch copy provided by Crunching Koalas.