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Ethan Walton-Jones - Sergeant Llama

16 March 2023


“Deck ‘Em!” is a solitaire-esque card boxing game in which the player, a complete newbie to the boxing ring, is tasked with going the full 12 rounds against the champion boxer. Developed and released by second-time publisher, Frosty Pop, “Deck ‘Em!” is a game that is super easy for a player to pick up and go quickly, with a short tutorial before the game hits you with the “good luck! You’ll need it,” tossing you headfirst into the ring.


At the beginning of each round, four cards of the 52 in the deck will be drawn randomly. These four cards must all be either played or stored in your corner for a future round before the game can progress to the next round. Firstly, health cards increase your fighter's health (shocker), allowing you to take more hits from the champ. Speaking of the champ, the champ cards each have a random number that shows how much damage it will do to your fighter if it were to hit. These champ cards can not be stored for a future round and have to be played on your fighter. To counteract the champ, there are the block cards, which also have a value that will reduce the amount of damage the champ cards do when they hit you. Each block card starts with a durability of 15, and this durability will decrease down to the value of the last champ card that it blocked. So say a champ card with value nine was played whilst there was a block card with value five that had full 15 durability in play, this champ card would now do just four damage to your fighter, and reduce the durability of the block down to nine. This durability is vital, as any champ card that is played that has a higher value than the durability of the block will smash through the block, doing the full damage shown on the champ card, owch. The final type of card are the punches. There are 3 punches, a lucky hit, a haymaker, and a sucker punch. The lucky hit and the haymaker both reduce the value of a champ card that they are played on, whilst the sucker punch can return a single champ card back to the deck, useful for getting out of a sticky situation.


The art style in “Deck ‘Em!” is visually appealing, and has good charm, with the style being well suited to the vibe of the game. The cards are nice to look at, and they each very clearly show what they do, even if they weren’t titled. The good art style is important for a game such as this where there isn't a lot else it has going for it. “Deck ‘Em!” is very short, and you will find yourself wondering if you missed something after finally managing to last all 12 rounds before it starts from the beginning again. The replayability factor is solely based on the winnings from the fight, getting that hit of serotonin as you see your earnings increase, even being able to do a double-or-nothing to gamble it all to try and win big, or aiming to have exactly one or above 21 health at the end of round 12 to get a big bonus stack of cash. Once you learn how the game works, and all the ways you can use the cards to turn the fight in your favour, it becomes more of a game of chance rather than a game of skill and there are numerous times where I have found myself dealt a hand that makes it impossible to survive. The audio for the game is well-designed, with the main theme being a tad repetitive, but I never found its repetitiveness annoying. All the sound effects are pretty much exactly what you would expect to find from a boxing-themed card game, with the punching, the crowd cheering, the round bell, and card flipping SFX all adding to a decent atmosphere. However, being slightly nitpicky, there is no audio slider in the settings, just an on/off switch, so to turn the volume down you have to turn the sound of your whole system down, which can prove to be annoying.


The gameplay is a fantastic concept and working out how the game mechanics work is a lot of fun, however, I find myself thinking that there was so much more that this game could have been. Whether it was a story mode, or an ability to purchase different types of cards with your winnings to give yourself a better shot at more consistently going the full 12 rounds. Almost any addition would be a good addition, just to give the player something to work towards. There is the in-game leaderboard where you see how you stack up to other players, but that is all there is. Considering how little there is to this game, the low $2.50 price point is very fair.


Overall, “Deck ‘Em!” is a great concept, quite a lot of casual fun, and enters the market at a very fair price being a solid second release from developer ‘Frosty Pop’. It features an appealing art style, intriguing mechanics, and solid sound design, however, the lack of anything beyond the one game mode means that the player tends to lose interest too quickly. If you are looking for a fun, easy-to-pick-up game that is perfect for a commute to work or school, go ahead and give this game a shot, but not if you are looking for a new game to get really involved in. With all this in mind, I will be giving “Deck ‘Em!” 6.5/10.


The Bad

- The art style and cards fit the theme
- Fun game concept
- Cheap price
- Easy to pick up

- Repetitive gameplay
- Lack of story
- Only 1 game mode
- RNG based
- Lack of settings

The Good

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