Review: Shadowrift (Starling Games) – English

The previously rather peaceful city of New Haven is threatened by so-called Shadowrifts, which have opened up outside the city gates. Through these rifts all kinds of monsters enter and want to destroy the city at all costs. It is up to the heroes of this city to stand up and defend the city and close the rifts. Through their combined skills, items and magical powers, each hero has different abilities to stop the monsters. But will the heroes manage to close the rifts in time before New Haven falls? You’ll find out in the cooperative deck-builder called Shadowrift!

Shadowrift is a cooperative deck-builder suitable for 1 to 6 players (yes, this game has a solo option!). The cooperative part of the game certainly makes it unique as you collectively discuss with one another during each turn what the right choice is to make sure New Haven doesn’t meet its end. The game starts, as in almost every deckbuilder, with a standard deck for each player. And after that another interesting element of the game quickly emerges. Every time you play the game there is a possibility that a different kind of monster will threaten the city. To add this kind of variety, you choose a specific monster deck with monsters ranging from fire dragons to the undead.

Players can win the game in two different ways: by closing the Shadowrifts hidden somewhere in the monster deck or by building enough walls to protect the city from the monsters. This in itself doesn’t sound like a difficult task, but there are a number of things that can cause New Haven to be brought down. First, there are certain monsters that can cause the game to come to an end. In addition, as a hero you are not only protecting the city itself, but also the city’s inhabitants. Should too many inhabitants die, the heroes unfortunately also lose.

During the turn, new travelers and inhabitants of the city appear on the board that have both advantages and disadvantages for the players. In addition, the deck building part of the game is of course extremely important and you are constantly expanding your deck with spells, weapons and skills to make your hero fight the monsters as well as possible.

The game gave me a tremendous sense of excitement, because you are constantly concerned with both making sure your city survives and getting the right cards into your deck to achieve your goals. It was a unique mix that I had not seen in a game before, but for those in the know it can be compared to a mix between a cooperative form of Dominion combined with a game like Castle Panic. To finally win at the end of the game is a huge relief and gives a sense of victory that I have not found in many other games recently. In addition, the feeling of loss also gives you the drive to play another pot to win this time. Also, the different monster decks offer completely new possibilities to play the game and the solo variant is also highly recommended.

The game looks great and offers a lot of possibilities for variation. With that, Shadowrift is definitely worth playing!