Tragic (Jared Jackson, entry ID 2230)
It's like if XKCD #244, Photopia, and Hearthstone were all rolled together into one.
Tragic is, first and foremost, a deck-building game. It’s pretty fleshed out, especially compared to the kind of gameplay you usually see in an IFComp entry: there’s a whole bunch of different cards, equipment, and mechanics that interact in different ways. You use your cards to fight various enemies as you progress through a dungeon. The interface is custom-made in Unity, and while it’s definitely not as polished as a multi-million-dollar AAA game, it looks nice and gets the job done.
The story takes place on three layers simultaneously. The player character, Ben, is playing a tabletop role-playing game that Kelly’s designing for a competition. The player character of that game, Derrogan, finds himself transported from his fantasy setting to the twenty-first century, and he enters a card game tournament in hopes of speaking to a Grand Wizard. The player character of that game, whose name you get to select, is the one who has to fight through the dungeons and stuff. You might be thinking, “woah, that is too many layers to keep track of simultaneously”, but it’s actually communicated pretty well – one UI touch I particularly liked was that Ben and Kelly’s out-of-character conversations appear in comic-book-style speech bubbles on top of the game.
Unfortunately the game is kind of buggy. At one point, through a bugged interaction between a “your next Effect card triggers twice” card, a “retrieve a card from the Burn Zone” card, and a “gain two energy next turn” card, I managed to obtain a card named Card Name stuck permanently at the top of my hand that, whenever used, would cause me to gain two additional energy at the start of each turn. (This was a pretty massive advantage considering you’re normally limited to three energy per turn.) It’s also possible to get the UI stuck by clicking through dialogue segments too quickly.
I was a little disappointed by the ending I got – Derrogan wins the tournament and is about to meet the Grand Wizard, but it’s Ben’s bedtime, so the game ends with a promise that they’ll get to it in the next session. It was a little abrupt, so I’m not sure if this is a sequel hook or an indication that I made poor choices during the story segments. The walkthrough mentions that there are multiple endings, so I tried playing again to see if I’d get a different one, but I wasn’t actually able to beat the game a second time. I kept losing to one of the tougher enemies in the second dungeon – I think it was called a basilisk? – and while getting ten additional max hit points when you die is nice from a story perspective it doesn’t really help when the basilisk swings at you for fifty damage every few turns.
So, yeah! It’s a pretty nice deck-building game, and you’ll probably have more fun if you’re actually good at deck-building games.