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Dawncaster review – “Premium gameplay for fans of roguelike deck-builders (that you can play offline!)”

Whatever happened to the missing Dawnbringer, and do you even want to find out? Consul Evelaine, the commander of Brightcandle Fortress, certainly thinks you’ve got the chops to investigate – but whether or not you survive the encounter is entirely up to Lady Luck herself.

Wanderlust Interactive has recently just added a whole bunch of new cards to the roguelike deck-builder, but is it worth investing hours of your precious time into, or is it best to leave saving the dark fantasy world of the Shattered Realms to someone else?

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Boasting handpainted artwork and gorgeous character designs, the game is truly a sight for sore eyes. The visual style alone is very much in sync with the title’s fantasy vibes, and while you can’t customise the way your character looks, you’ll still no doubt love the way the class variants are drawn in their respective portraits (with six of them to choose from: Arcanist, Hunter, Knight, Rogue, Seeker and Warrior). I loved the artwork so much I almost felt like choosing a class solely based on the avatar’s looks alone during most runs.


In combat, your foes heave and breathe and stare at you front and centre in a convenient portrait mode, and all you have to do is swipe up from your deck to deploy your cards. The cards themselves also feature lovely artwork, with descriptions that look clean and polished and nothing too cluttered.

I also appreciated how holding down each card gives you a quick explanation of all the terms you need to know – the same is true with the status effects that both you and your enemy have. This isn’t often the case in plenty of roguelike deck-builders I’ve played, as some will attempt to explain a few terms to you while leaving the rest for you to decipher on your own (often at the cost of your demise for that particular run).


The gameplay itself doesn’t really reinvent the wheel in any new way. Typical of the genre, you begin a run with your starter deck, go through random encounters, and try to take down foes until you die and have to start over. Procedurally generated events include everything from mysterious chests that may or may not offer you a boon to campsites where you can recover your HP as typical of the genre. Obviously, luck plays an instrumental role here, as even the cards you earn as a reward for defeating monsters are all based on RNG.

What I do find unique about Dawncaster is that the cards you collect aren’t specific to your chosen class alone. You can still earn or buy cards for other classes, which totally deepens the strategy here depending on how well you can mix and match the abilities in your deck. You can also use a special weapon ability that buffs you up after a certain cooldown. I particularly enjoyed how you can encounter NPCs along the way as well, such as the card collector and the merchant, which won’t always be the case with every new run.


Perhaps what’s most appealing about Dawncaster to me is the fact that you can play the game entirely offline – couple that with the portrait orientation and the autosave function and it’s the ultimate on-the-go timewaster that really hits all the right spots for me. The replayability here is off the charts too – each class has such a wealth of tactics you can tinker around with, and that doesn’t even include the DLCs you can purchase to expand the base game.

You can also collect Fateshards that you’re rewarded with each time you attempt a new run, and these can be used to unlock rewards such as bonus gold, extra health, more experience and so on. The narrative here is pretty engaging too – I appreciated how well-written the lines are, as there really is something intriguing about the search for the missing Dawnbringer (and the very, very interesting villains you meet along the way).

I’ve been playing Dawncaster for 2 weeks now, and I’ve only just scratched the surface of this impressively deep game. I’m pretty partial to roguelike deck-builders, but this one still somehow manages to stand out – and at only $4.99, I can honestly say that it’s an absolute steal.


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