One of the best roguelikes on Switch and PC keeps pulling me back in with each update, and the final one is no different

(Image credit: Chucklefish)

Anyone who calls me a quitter should see the dedication, determination, and constancy of my Wildfrost playthrough. It’s a game I've been playing steadily since it first released in early 2023, racking up 100 hours through its short, frenetic, pick-up-and-play battles, whether playing in bed, on the sofa, or during a holiday I largely ruined by clutching Wildfrost close to my chest in the hotel room for hours on end. (Sorry, love.)

I'm not generally a completionist, often happy to drop games halfway through when I feel like they've run their course. But Wildfrost is a different beast. It's been more than a year since it was released, and developers Deadpan Games and Gaziter have kept up a steady stream of 37 updates that continually threaten to pull me back to its icy wastes just when I think I've kicked the habit – and final update 1.2 is no different.

Rad to the (chilled) bone


(Image credit: Chucklefish)

Elden Ring

(Image credit: FromSoftware)

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As a roguelike card-battler in the vein of Slay the Spire, Wildfrost is a deceptively cute game. Sure it has cartoon polar bears, human berries, and so on, but it's also packed with challenge, strategic depth and procedural variety, shuffling cards, items, locations, and upgrades with every run – plus an element of tactical positioning and per-card turn order that continually keeps me on my frostbitten toes. The game also comes with a number of challenges that need to be completed to unlock additional cards or charms to upgrade them, gradually expanding the variety and power of your possible deck with each new update.

In June 2023, the Wildfrost 1.0.6 update introduced a whole new reward system that kicks in after defeating a boss. It allows you to choose from a randomized collection of charms, crowns to fast-track cards onto the board, and 'bells' that might increase the amount of companions you can have in your deck, improve a card’s health, or slow down the onslaught of enemy forces. 

And in December 2023, the 1.1 update expanded the three difficulty-increasing 'bells' – which you needed to activate in order to unlock the game's 'true' ending – into an entire challenge system. This involves 13 bells that escalate the difficulty in different ways, from hardened enemies to more expensive merchants, allowing you to cater the challenge to your own liking. All of these changes have shaken up my expectations of what a Wildfrost playthrough looks like, given me continual reasons to jump back into the fray, and ultimately made for a better, more interesting game.

I've never been one for Early Access games – I like to play something close to the finished product if I’m paying for it – but Wildfrost keeps exceeding my expectations in both its subtle and drastic gameplay changes. The latest 'Friends & Foes' update has landed on Steam, with a Nintendo Switch and mobile launch coming soon, so please pray for me as I gear up for update 1.2 and prepare to be dragged back all over again.

Once more, with freezing


(Image credit: Chucklefish)

All of these changes have shaken up my expectations of what a Wildfrost playthrough looks like.

The 1.2 update, which is sadly the last the game will see, is a substantial swansong for the engaging roguelike. It introduces 13 new enemies, four new battles, 20 new player cards, 13 new companions, one new pet card, plus a medley of additional charms and reward bells. 

This marks the biggest addition of content I've seen since the game's initial release, and it's just the thing to re-engage lapsed players who foolishly thought their time with Wildfrost was over. According to a representative from publisher Chucklefish, "There have been smaller content updates over the past year. Extra cards and events etc, but nothing of this size."

A big part of the draw is the new companion, Nova, who appeared in some of Wildfrost's earliest promotional art and is only now joining the game as a playable card – "fans have been clamoring for her inclusion", Chucklefish says – and a cheeky tie-in with the equally-addictive poker roguelike Balatro, which joins Cult of the Lamb in having an official in-game charm.

In a world where massive, AAA games can fail to grab their audience's attention with successive updates, it's heartening to see an indie game so thoroughly perfect its own formula over the last year. While much of the chatter around DLC this month will be dominated by Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree, please hold a thought for Wildfrost as it goes out with bang.

Check out some more of the best roguelike games to play next, from Hades to Have a Nice Death

Freelance Writer

Henry St Leger is a freelance write who has written for sites including NBC News, The Times, Little White Lies, and Edge Magazine, alongside GamesRadar. Henry is a former staffer at our sister site TechRadar too, where started out as Home Technology Writer before moving up to Home Cinema Editor. Before he left to go full-time freelancer, he was News and Features Editor reporting on TVs, projectors, smart speakers and other technology.