Ring around Rosie’s purse full of… Stay tuned. No, bad rhyme. Keep an eye on the ring and make a strategy. Learn, adapt or face your disappearance. Yes, that’s the tagline of Ring of Pain, a fast-paced strategy card game from publisher Humble Bundle and developer Twice Different. What do rhymes and card fights do together? Check out this report to see their link!

Casual card games have certainly found their way onto the Nintendo platform in recent years, and Ring of Pain continues this trend. Unlike typical heavier trading card games like Magic the Gathering or Pokémon, games in this category generally focus on short game sessions, super accessible mechanics, a strong RNG (random number generator) element, and offer almost infinite replayability. Not surprisingly, they show promise for a mobile-oriented platform.

The game begins with a nice rhyming and thoughtful introduction to the artistic theme of the game, followed by the introduction to the first area. You are offered a circle of cards, but there are two to start with, so you can choose to try to pass or jump. Your goal is simple: Reach the door card(s) randomly arranged in each section to move to the next. It is this simple overall objective that makes this title immediately appealing. As in games like Slay the Spireor even Super Battle Cards, the cards presented to you and the path you follow are procedurally generated in each area you enter.

The principle of progress is simple. Select the left or right card and use it to perform the required actions. Most of the time you are facing an opponent in a duel, which means that you fight according to the damage of your attack and that of your opponent. Health potions show what you can replenish, as well as special doors that lead to interesting spaces in between, then there are imitations that allow you to choose between games with risk and reward, and finally one of the characters that seems to be leading the game, a creature that resembles an owl that brings gifts and stories when you interact with it.

I really like the simplicity of the basic mechanics of the game, and it only takes a very short tutorial to really understand where advanced strategies can go. I’ve enjoyed mobile games like Card Crawl , which offer card fighting mechanisms very similar to this, and it’s usually fun to play several sessions at once and dare as much as possible before getting killed by something absurd or a boss.

The biggest drawback of the Pain ring remains the RNG aspect. While skill comes into play depending on whether you want to take a card from your opponent, try to sneak past him, or take a different path in the ring to reach your neighbor, it is always based entirely on the cards drawn at any given time. This means that in practice you can start a new game and just randomly spam and see what happens, but chances are you won’t get as far as you planned. However, my races sometimes had terrible beginnings, so that I could barely reach the third official district before being destroyed by a mob of enemies that I could not overcome.

The dynamics of each race are enhanced by the exceptional number of equipment/elements and the time periods allowed. With a total of 15 slots, you can find, win and equip equipment for each race. Unlike other games, you’ll find that bonuses can have a big impact on your racing performance. Therefore, the choice of the presented add-on modules can often be an average or more difficult strategy.

Within this area it is also possible to perform chain point actions that affect maps that were not presented to you at the beginning of the selection. This can be useful if you have a few enemy cards getting in the way of your neighbors, but there is a way to create a chain explosion with different cards, or say, a poison potion that damages adjacent cards. Again, this is for advanced strategies and for those who want to experiment with their skills.

The mischievous character here is unfortunately rather weak. If you die, it’s over, and the game is over. You get a collection that you can view in the main menu that describes all the cards you’ve seen in the overall 180-card pool, but I think the weakest part of this game is that it doesn’t offer any incentive or meta advantage for the next game that you often encounter in these types of competitive games. There’s also a daily puzzle mode that can be unlocked (I haven’t unlocked it yet at the time of writing), but I’d like to see some more options to win while playing.

Visually, the art is very clean, almost geometric with style, and gives a very dark and dramatic portrait, with a touch of gloom to everything. The soundtrack provides a reasonable atmosphere, and with subtle map animations and some floating particles, the game isn’t lifeless, but I wish there was a little more life on the screen. In the meantime, the game supports both Joy-Con controls and the touch screen for gameplay, but I found the touch screen controls a bit more clunky than I expected for such a simple interface. For example, I couldn’t use the information mechanic card if I just tried to touch it because it automatically used the card I tried to swipe or touch to display the information.

Ring of Pain hits a lot of the right spots for a quick and loose card game. The next goal for developers should be to perfect and unlock the reward system. There are many things to love, including art, style, and rhyme. And of course I also enjoyed this game in bed!

Pain Circle Overview
  • Charts – 7/10
  • Sound – 6/10
  • Gameplay – 6.5/10
  • Late Call – 7/10

7/10

Final thoughts : GOOD PAGE

Ring of Pain is an artistic mix of random card battles, procedural dungeon dodging, and some unfair mechanics. Its strengths lie in the short game sessions and the dynamic results that can be achieved, as well as the advanced strategy that is possible. Disadvantages include very RNG systems where sometimes the cards are simply not in your favor. A big disappointment for me was also the lack of truly meta unlockable content for portability. But in the near future, I can see myself doing one or two passes during my lunch break without feeling exhausted, which says a lot about this kind of thing.

Alex has been involved in the gaming industry since the release of Nintendo. He’s turned his hobby into a career, spending just over a decade developing games and now serving as creative director of the studio.

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