The deckbuilding genre, once relegated to the physical table, has seen explosive growth in the indie PC scene in recent years. Now skilled developers are mixing, mashing, and combining traditional deckbuilding mechanics with other genres. In Ratropolis, Cassel Games successfully integrates map building with city building and defense to create a charming blend of strategies. The resulting fusion is a satisfying evening of rodents, robots and giant ducks that keeps you coming back game after game. Your army of adorable mice and machines must restore the glory of the Ratropolis! Yes, it’s like a city for mice.
The goal is simple: you must survive 30 waves of assault while you are building a city. To this end, you select a primary commander mouse that dictates the maps available on each run. Each mouse has a variety of strategies to use, and while you start out with base loadouts like the Military-oriented General and the Money-laden Merchant, later unlockable characters like the Scientist, Shaman, and Officer navies add many timing considerations and more advanced weaknesses. Gambling.
Each race starts out simple and fresh, you defending your nascent ratropolis on two different routes. When you start adding cards to your deck, you cycle through economy boosts, troops, and buildings. Each class plays differently, and the Commander’s unique mechanics keep the experience crisp when it might otherwise get bogged down. For example, the merchant’s military units are quite powerful – but they only stick around for so long after being paid. Scientists can transform and mutate troops, and shamans collect souls from fallen units. The action takes place in real time, although the onslaught ends as you browse through the cards to buy. It’s a fun and frantic puzzle to play all your cards, draw a new hand, and keep going through your deck. As well as having different archetypes with their own cards and special abilities, you can also play in multiple biomes like deserts, coastlines, and forests, each with their own sets of power-ups and enemy types.
Browsing through cards, pruning your deck’s weakest options, and accumulating resources is interrupted by random events that often force you to make tough choices. Are you going to sacrifice some of your Unit Cap or all of your Gold to a Mouse Insurgency? These random events offer choices that can have a big impact. During one run, I even had a special event that channeled all enemy forces into one lane of attack, making it a much easier defensive endeavor than fighting on two fronts. Combined with the variety of maps, builds, abilities, biomes, and hero choices, the game’s random elements feel tightly matched to allow you to have many different experiences that all feel right to you, even if you’re crushed. by pirates jumping from barricades. or sleeping sirens.
After each race, you receive points that unlock new cards and advisers (basically buffs that can be discovered during a race to help you), which allow you to dive into additional strategies and try new ones. things. Want to try out a race that focuses on spellcasting or just building tons of defensive structures? Unlocks help you out and give you incentives to keep playing your favorite classes, explore outside your comfort zone with others, and keep you walking wave after wave. Once you’ve mastered Standard Mode, you can start exploring ascending pollution ranks, increasing difficulty levels that add more difficult enemies, and other quirks to play, like restricting your build space. Despite being repetitive after mastering the basic tactics, I had a great time pushing over and over again, several hours after my first wins.
Ratropolis has that ethereal “one more game” quality where the clock disappears as you pour hour after hour into your fiery mouse mates. When you lose a Flame Chariot or a Hatched Giant Duck Lord, it’s a little sad, but there’s always another game around the corner. As more and more alchemical creations emerge from the rise of deckbuilding, Ratropolis offers plenty of interesting and stylish entertainment for lovers of several breathtaking genres.