Faerie Solitaire: Difficulty and lack thereof

So, yeah. I played some more of this. It’s not the most sophisticated or compelling of games, but it’s easy to slip into and out of, and doesn’t require a lot of attention and doesn’t demand that you keep track of context between sessions, and these attributes make it well-suited for slipping in between other things. And I do intend to finish it eventually. Let’s take a look at what that involves.

The game is divided into 40 levels, grouped arbitrarily into eight “stages” of five. (There’s a set of five extra-hard “Challenge” levels as well, external to story mode and accessible from the main menu.) Each level consists of nine hands. So, that’s 360 hands in the main game (plus 45 in the challenge levels).

The hands themselves don’t seem to get significantly more difficult over the course of the game. There may have been some variation in difficulty in the very earliest ones, when it was acting as a tutorial, but that was a long way back. Instead, the game increases the difficulty through increasing the criteria for passing levels. At first, all you have to do to pass is meet a certain minimal score (filling a progress bar) in each of the nine hands in a level to pass. Then it starts making extra demands, like “fill the progress bar within two minutes of starting a hand” or “win at least two levels perfectly” (that is, clear all the cards) or “earn at least $7000 over the course of the level”, and after that, it starts combining them, making multiple demands. Failure to meet all of a level’s demands means you have to restart it from the beginning, even if you passed each hand.

Even with these criteria, things don’t really get more difficult. Remember, you get to use your earned riches to buy power-ups, in the form of structures in Fairyland, that give you cheat-like special abilities. This easily offsets the increased demands of the levels — in fact, I have yet to lose a level in the main game. I have, however, tried and lost the Challenge levels. That’s how I know that the game is actually capable of making things difficult, and also how I know that the power-ups are effective. I just purchased the most expensive one, a “tree of life” that makes 1/4 of the cards that would start face-down start face-up instead. Lack of information is your chief enemy in this game, so this was clearly worth saving up for, even if I had to ignore some lesser power-ups to reach it. And now that I have it, I’ve managed to pass a Challenge level for the first time.

No Comments

Leave a reply