Exploring backwater planets, recruiting pals and making important decisions that could come back to haunt you - I could be talking about Mass Effect, but I promise I'm not (this time). These are the sorts of things you can get up to in Klei Entertainment's Griftlands, which has now left early access. It's a brilliant deckbuilding roguelite that pits you against enemies in battles of the mind (to negotiate tough situations) or battles of the, uh, body (shooty shooty), as you follow the stories of three characters on a dingy sci-fi world.
In Griftlands, you play as either Sal the adventurer, Rook the spy, or Smith the "colossal walking disaster". Each character has unique cards they can collect, and individual storylines that follow their journeys through the Griftlands. While each run has a main plot, you'll discover random events, new characters, items and cards each time you play.
The game launched in early access on the Epic Games Store in 2019, before arriving (again, in early access) on Steam around this time last year. It's full release comes with the conclusion to Smith's story, and the devs say they're working on translating into more languages (currently it's playable in English and Chinese).
I really enjoyed Griftlands, though it's hard not to compare it to other excellent deckbuilding roguelikes. While the game has good ideas separating its conversational and gun-toting card battles, Matt Cox thought neither quite hit the mark that Monster Train or Slay The Spire did.
"It's competent enough, but it doesn't sing: I plumped for a strategy that seemed pretty obvious, and it served me well right to the very end. I was never excited to land a new card," he wrote in his early access Griftlands review last year. "It's decent! It functions, it works, it's fine. But I miss my Train."
I mostly agree. My main gripe was that card battles were a bit repetitive, though I did enjoy the negotiations more than it seems Matt did. They're fresh, interesting and help you persuade your way out of situations, rather than simply start blasting. Besides, we probably shouldn't listen to Matt anyway - he admitted to selling his poor, sweet alien dog in that review. Monster.
Griftlands has left early access and is available on both Steam and Epic Games Store, priced at £13/€14/$16. You can grab it now on Windows, Mac and Linux, and it's also coming to Nintendo Switch, Xbox One and PS4 on June 4th.