Admodee Digital and Obsidian Entertainment’s Pathfinder Adventures video game adaptation was the kind of thing we should have had ages ago, but that doesn’t stop it from being pretty darn good. The game has a pretty in-depth but quick tutorial, which shouldn’t make much sense, but Pathfinder Adventures isn’t exactly the most complicated of card-based RPGs. The tutorial gets a bit of a slow start with a quick info dump, but it very quickly evolves into letting you play sample rounds that build on each other and become the foundation for your Pathfinder antics.
The game ports over to digital astoundingly well, with the kind of modern improvements that only a digital version can give – like live hints and rule checks to make sure you aren’t playing the game wrong. You also have a variety of outfits for your party, can have a party of multiple characters – anywhere from 1 to 6 characters at a time, though 3-4 are recommended.
And because you play solo in Obsidian’s Pathfinder Adventures, you get all the joy of Pathfinder Adventures without any social requirements. This is an obvious bonus for those of us who don’t have friends to game with, can’t make time with our gaming friends to actually schedule play time, or just despise humanity because humans are the absolute worst.
You know, us normal people.
For those of you with friends, sadly Pathfinder Adventures has no multiplayer to speak of.
The game mechanics are pretty simple. You roll using simulated dice (from d4s on up to d20s), with support cards, weapons, and armor that you can use to add dice to your hand or mitigate damage. The card actions are all well laid out on the screen, so whether or not you’re playing on PC or mobile, it’s pretty easy to avoid making mistakes. Nothing like discarding a card you meant to recharge, after all.
The game progresses through a series of scenarios where you and your party chase down various villains, defeating their henchmen and locking down “locations” to corner the villains so they can’t escape on you. There’s something almost reminiscent of the old comic book days where a villain would be dead one issue, then alive and well the next after faking their death. You’ll defeat a Pathfinder villain in one location and, despite exceeding their combat check, they will appear hale and hearty in another location.
Each turn has a series of phases, first is card hand off, then exploration, then combat, then end phase actions. The flow works pretty organically and the game gives you helpful hints for what cards you can use during which activation periods and checks so that you don’t do something silly like use a potion of fortitude during a charisma check.
Each character has their own skills, powers, and default card sets. So when you’re building your party you will want a combination of stealth, magic, and strength character builds, possibly with a cleric or two in the mix to help bring back cards from your discard pile.
Making sure to use your characters special skills is something that takes a bit of practice if you aren’t used to playing Pathfinder Adventures, because just getting the basic flow of battle down doesn’t really require skill use. Very quickly it becomes apparent that not using them hurts you, but the game doesn’t exactly go in for punishing you for not being a perfect player right off the bat.
As for difficulty, like any good RPG, it scales up pretty steadily and so continues to give you a challenge even as you progress farther, earning better rewards and support cards as you go.
Perhaps one of the very good starting cards you can get is “blessing of the gods” which will give you some extra bonuses to skill checks, combat checks, or can be discarded to let you continue your exploration phase.
With the recent mobile release, I decided to play the game both on Steam and on my iPhone. I’ve got an SE, so it isn’t the largest screen which is not ideal when playing Pathfinder, but most phone screens should be up to the task. The game lets you link accounts, so you can have the same game running on your PC, android phone, and iPad all at the same time. Assuming you have a device of each kind. And that the device pairing works.
Which brings me to the bug report section of this review. The only bug issues I ran into were small things – a help window in my deck editing screen wouldn’t go away until I finished editing my deck, so I had an annoying translucent text box open and had to try and read my cards through it. And the device pairing. As I sit here typing this up, my phone is still attempting to pair with the Steam version of Pathfinder I had running.
Just to make sure the game plays equally on both platforms, I had exited out of the device pairing to go play, walked through the tutorial again, and then went back to device pairing. So if you were planning to play the game on several platforms, I’d have to recommend against that.
Other players have had numerous crash bugs on Steam, with the game just simply quitting on them and refusing to work. I had no crash bugs whatsoever, on either version of the game.
I am sick to death of the soundtrack however. It’s not a bad song, but having it on repeat with no option to lower it or shut it down completely, well, it gets old. The visual effects aren’t the greatest, but they also aren’t terrible. So I’ll give those a pass.
In fact, probably the biggest issue I have with Pathfinder Adventures is that the game is free to play on iOS and Android, but will set PC gamers back $24.99 USD. Which would make sense if they were different payscales – one being paid upfront and the other being a f2p with microtransactions – but they aren’t. The game is exactly the same on PC and mobile. So my advice is, pick the game up on a tablet that gives you a large enough screen to read everything, and play it for free. Also, don’t try to link devices.
Ultimately, Pathfinder Adventures is an enjoyable way to play Pathfinder by yourself, and is a pretty solid card-based RPG. Obsidian did a fantastic job of making sure the game plays as well in digital as it does on tabletop. The issues mostly just come down to connectivity bugs, as there is no way to play this game offline. Which seems a little silly, but makes sense given the account linking.
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