Kilka Card Gods is a card based puzzle game that was designed for mobile devices and has now been brought over to the PS Vita. If that doesn’t excite you, well, then I guess we’re in the same boat. When I first heard about this game, my interest level went from zero to slightly more than zero. The game looks and sounds interesting, but how would it play? Would it be a fun game that belongs on the Vita or something that should have stayed in the App Store? I’ve spent the last couple of weeks playing it to try and figure that out.
The story of Kilka Card Gods revolves around Yupanki, a champion kilka card player who, after winning the kilka tournament, is entrusted with protecting the sacred Altar of Q’erax and its eight magic golden relics. These relics are then stolen from Yupanki by seven gods. Now he needs your help to defeat the gods and win back the relics. Of course, like most puzzle games that try to throw a story into the mix (think Sparkle), the story is really inconsequential to the essence of the game.
Unlike other card games that have come out recently (Hearthstone or even Uncharted: Fight for Fortune), this game uses a standard, four-suit deck of cards. In Kilka, you have a grid of tiles, each one having a different suit pictured on it. Along the edges are the different values for the cards that belong in that row, and taking inspiration from Sudoku, the object is to compare each tile’s 2 values and figure out which card belongs in that spot. For example, one spot might have the values (Q,K) and (J,Q) with a picture of a heart on it. That would mean the Queen of Hearts would belong in that spot. Once you’ve correctly placed each card in its correct tile, the round is over and you’re rewarded with up to three stars based on your time.
As the game progresses, the level of difficulty ramps up and more cards are introduced. There are also different challenges issued, such as completing a certain row before the others, to try and spice up the game play. During the duels with the card gods, even more obstacles are thrown in as they will do everything in their power to prevent you from winning. Also working against you is the clock which you are racing against to get a better score. Each wrong move you make will add seconds to your time and steal victory from your grasp.
The controls for the game are entirely touch based which adds to the feel that this game is more at home on smartphones and tablets than on the Vita. Physical controls are not even an option, and if anything, they tend to get in the way when trying to swipe the screen. The only other gripe I have with the controls is that it’s too easy for the game to not recognize where you want to place a card. Since you’re racing the clock, you need to move fast, but if you don’t slow down to place the card exactly in its tile, it goes flying back to its starting position. Precious seconds are then wasted having to do it again.
And despite a great premise and an interesting puzzle system with a fun back story, this game falls entirely flat with me. While the game isn’t overly hard, the most difficult problem I had was finding the urge to play it. It was interesting at first, but then it became dull. Then duller. Eventually I would see the icon floating on my Vita’s home screen, and I just had no desire to play it any more. Maybe it was the repetitive game play you encounter in each round, but then I’ve played many repetitive games that were both fun and enjoyable. Or maybe the challenges it provides just aren’t compelling. One thing I know is that racing the clock was a major turn off because it prevented me from enjoying the puzzles instead of hurriedly trying to finish them.
The problem is that much of the game is designed to be a race (beat the clock to earn more stars), but the puzzles feel more laid back and casual. Imagine playing a game of solitaire but only having one minute to finish it. The game that you might have easily enjoyed playing suddenly becomes a rushed endeavor that has all the casual enjoyment sucked out of it.
That may sound a little condemning, but for what it is, the game is very competent. I know, that’s not exactly the greatest compliment you can hurl at a game, but what it does, it does well. Visually, the game is very attractive. The art design for the gods is good and the game moves at a quick pace. The background music is charming and changes based on the location and god you are currently engaging. So if this style of card game is up your alley, the game isn’t hampered by bad performance or a horrible frame rate, just very dull gameplay.
In the end, Kilka Card Gods is a very polished game which provides little in the form of entertainment. The game feels like it should be a light and casual affair, but the race against the clock prevents that from happening. It’s then neither a challenging puzzle game nor a casual card game. Instead it’s a hybrid of the two and the worst of both worlds.