Cards’n’Castles Review – The Grim Battlefields of France

Written by armies and castles



Cards'n'Castles Review

The wheels of the siege engines creak and rumble, as the heavy machines slowly advance towards French fortifications. The grim warriors march forward, over the pools of blood and through a hail of enemy bombardment. The horsemen ride ahead – eager to break through the ruined battlements and smash into the opposition. The dark walls rise over the swamps and bogs of the foreign land – the land that will soon become England.

The walls fall. A group of riders charges across the breach – straight into an unwavering line of enemy spearmen. The cavalry is cut down, but in their place stands the resolute steel-clad English militia. The armored troops push forward with cold determination, not looking at their comrades that fall all around them. Meter by meter, the soldiers gain the ground. Step by step, France is conquered.


Cards'n'Castles Review

There isn’t much. Like in a real battle of the old days, most of what you’ll be doing is praying, as the steel lines collide in combat. A good general knows that half of the victory is tough troops and good positioning – the other half is luck. A great general doesn’t believe in luck.

So, why even bother trying to command your troops? The battle is won or lost before it even begins – that looks to be this game’s motto. As such, the combat is completely automated. Your job is to choose the soldiers and place them on the field. Then, pour yourself a cup of strong English tea, sit back – and enjoy the show.

A good show, at that! – As your mounted warriors ride down a group of enemy archers; As your catapult rains death upon the charging warbands; As two lines of spears meet in deadly struggle. Behind the basic visuals, there is a well-thought-out combat system – and plenty of good English gentlemen will fall in glory before France falls in defeat.

Visual Style

Cards'n'Castles Review

Like a classic black suit of the old England, the game’s visuals don’t need any ornaments to look striking. Everything’s done in a clear 2D style, using only a few colors to create a gloomy, cold atmosphere of a land at war. The various units all look unique and interesting. It’s surprising how detailed these are, considering their pixel art resolution.

With its basic look, the game is still able to come strangely close to how I’d imagine the grim medieval times. This shows, beyond all doubt, that you don’t need complex animations or overly-elaborate 3D models to create a mood. Sometimes, a good palette and a bit of passion will do the job, just as well.

The overall ambience is that of some frozen, windy northern swamps. There are no trees. Just struggling patches of grass, scattered around a pale blue-grey land. The subtle sound and animation of wind whistling across the battlefield is the last detail adding to the mood of harsh northern realms.

Interface and Music

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The interface design perfectly fits the cold aesthetics. When not in combat, the various warriors are represented as cards. The color scheme of these and the other elements follows that of the battlefields. There aren’t really any ornamental details – but they aren’t needed. Everything is clear, easy to understand and very much in-line with the game’s gloomy ambience.

Now – The music. It’s a few fantastic dungeon synth style tunes, unique and definitely memorable. The track that plays between battles, on the campaign map, is a work of art. It perfectly fits the atmosphere and does leave an impression of a devastating war – in pixel art style. It sounds almost like a dungeon synth march – that’s the best I can describe it. An ensorselling combination of triumph and melancholy.

Finally, I should also mention the incredibly cool CRT effect. I’ll never get tired of it. There’s something to it, that aligns strangely well with the subdued colors of the game’s visual design. It really does make you want to turn off the lights and leave the world behind – As you take command of the armies of other, faraway realms and times.



I’m sure you already have a good impression of the game’s grim mood. The various details – the interface, the graphics, the music – go together as well as Fish and Chips. Although, I don’t think I’ve ever tried the famous English dish. In any case, if you like the cold rainy ambience of the north – and you just might if you are from Britain – you shouldn’t be disappointed.

These really are the perfect vibes, if you want to drink some hot tea in the evening, next to a crackling fireplace. Even though the gameplay is centered around warfare – most of it is automated and very stylized. In the end, it feels as relaxing as an old board game. There’s just something very classical to that overall design.

The game feels like a complete, finished work, put together with a lot of passion and good craftsmanship. Without being long or difficult, it still presents a unique work of art, that stays in your memory. All the subtle details – the elegant animations and the sound effects, the wind blowing over the marshlands – make this game truly special.

Options and Difficulty

Indie Strategy Game

At war, rarely, there are too many options. You march forward – to victory or defeat, over broken barricades and slain foes. There’s no way back – I mean, literally – the game doesn’t allow you to replay the maps you’ve won. There are also no branches – just a single line of bleak battlefields stretches before your unrelenting troops.

I’m not sure if the game really requires any settings. It’s not that long and complex – or difficult, for that matter. A good way to spend a rainy evening, but not much beyond that. Is that a problem, though? I definitely enjoyed storming French fortresses and leading the warriors across its dark and desolate lands.

But, honestly, the great conquest felt a bit too straightforward. I really don’t think the French medieval armies were that weaker than their British counterparts. Or there wouldn’t be any France today. I think a few more months of work could turn this project from good to amazing. As it stands – the author just might risk angering a few too many French historians.


Turn Based Lovers

Through the smashed gates, the warriors pour inside the broken fortress. The missiles of the war machines still whistle above their heads, toppling the once formidable structures. The defenders still stand, however, facing their cheerless destiny with cold defiance. But soon, the war will be over – and the English rule will know no opposition.

Despite its short length and relative simplicity, in the end, the game does feel like a journey. You began with almost nothing – having to capture the artillery and even the horses from the enemy. In the final battle, however, two equally mighty forces come together, in the last stand of the unyielding defenders.

It definitely leaves an impression! From the gloomy art style to the heroic, and yet mournful music – it does seem like the author had put their soul into this project. It feels undoubtably unique, capturing your imagination and standing out from the multitude of other projects. Like the victorious armies of England stand out in history.

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Goodbye! Take care and don’t forget to drink plenty of hot tea – it’s cold outside, these days. Speaking of tea – I think I’ll go get myself another cup. Bye!


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armies and castles

A programmer, making turn-based strategies - guided by the traditional board games' aesthetics, and the grim atmosphere of the classic roguelikes. You can see examples of my work on my Twitter: @armies_castles.

2 thoughts on “Cards’n’Castles Review – The Grim Battlefields of France”

  1. looks very interesting BUT, I can’t find this game anywhere, you didn’t leave where to get it and the name Cards n Castles doesn’t show as any videogame on google, not even the grim fields of france, nothing, the only reference to that is this review. Can you please provide that info?
    Note, I found a ftp game called Cards and Castles on steam, but it’s a totally different game for PVP online battles with cards.


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