E3 2019: Griftlands reboots as a roguelike deck builder, starts alpha next month

by: Randy -
More On: Griftlands E3 2019

Boy did I guess that wrong. Two years ago, when Klei Entertainment's Griftlands put out a debut trailer, I thought it was going to behave a bit more like a JRPG Hyper Light Drifter. But no. Nuh-uh. Not that I was 100% on point, but Griftlands was rebooted—while still in development—as a deck-builder. Card-based combat. But also card-based negotiation and manipulation. Klei did away with the huge simulation and RPG elements and refocused. Is Griftlands a collectible card game like Hearthstone or Magic: The Gathering? No. It's a single-player roguelike deck building game with an emergent narrative, according to Klei.

Not that they don't line up on the left and line up on the right like a classic JRPG. But it looks as though cards like "Threaten" (Gain 1 Hostility) and "Build Rapport" (Gain 2 Influence) will abstractly play out during conversations. Whether you're going to buy a brew for a buddy or parlay with an enemy, it's kinda cool how Calm, Fast Talk, and Recall are how you engage in verbal sparring matches. For sure you'll need a good spread of Stab, Slice, and Kradeshi Barbstorm cards during a fight, too. You'll build one deck for negotiation, and one for battle.

The game has been wallowing on my Steam wishlist since it was announced at E3 2017—two full years ago. Hey, developing games is hard. I get it. It's just that the end of that debut trailer was looking at a "Late 2017/Early 2018" launch window. But now, according to this E3 2019 announcement trailer, Griftlands will be hitting alpha on the Epic Game Store on July 11 next month. Then it'll be on Steam early access in June 2020, next year. According to a developer blog, anyone who purchased Griftlands on Epic will get the game on Steam for free, and vice versa.

Regardless, this artwork is still brilliant. Got a big world to run around, yet it looks like you keep ending up in some swampy, shady dive bar located on the backside of giant cattle. I like that Griftlands has a try, try again ethos built into it. The grifter gets laughed out of the bar on the first attempt, gets outnumbered in a knife fight in the second attempt, then figures out she could use a couple allies in the third attempt. Then the grifter was able to locate her bounty. Good stuff. Looking forward to it even more now.