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Startup Grave review - A solo card game that's plagued by the major problem of the genre

For: iPhone   Also on: iPad

And that's tragic

Product: Startup Grave | Publisher:  | Format: iPhone | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
The one thing you need to get spot on with a solitaire card game is the challenge. If it's too easy, then players will smash through it at the first try and never come back to it. If it's too difficult, they'll crash up against it until the fun runs out and go and do something else.

Thanks to the inherent randomness of the experience, Startup Grave sits closer to the latter problem. That's not to say there isn't fun to be had here, but there are too many times when you feel like the game has played you into a corner you never had a chance to get out of.


The game is played with 48 cards. It's up to you to clear the entire deck. There are two bars in the centre of the screen, one red and one black. At the start of a round the red is at 10, the black at 0. If the red hits zero, or the black reaches ten, it's game over.

Each card has two numbers on it, a red one and a black one. Friendly cards will add to the red column and take away from the black. Unfriendly cards add to the black and take away the red.

The cards come out in fours. There are also two slots at the bottom of the screen where you can bank cards to use again later. Tap a card, tap the space, and it's banked. Double tap a card and it'll add and subtract its numbers, then disappear.

Startup Grave iOS review screenshot - Cards on the table

You can also fight. This is on a cooldown, so you can only do it every eight cards. Fights involve two time bars. When the red bar is full, you can choose to attack or play your single use shield. The first card to lose all of its ten health points is killed.

There are plenty of nice ideas here, but because you're being dealt cards at random, sometimes you know full well within a few hands that there's no chance you're going to win. And that becomes more obvious the more you play, since you know what's in the pile and what might be coming out.

While to some degree that's the nature of solo card games, there's not enough here to push you on to do better. There are new cards to unlock, but their prices are too high. Your first win will be a long time coming, and you'll only get a third of the way to your first unlock with that victory.

Balance beam

In essence then the problem here is one of balance. Not so much in the random nature of the play, but in the meta game that surrounds it. The rewards for pushing on are too slight, and deliver too slowly, to really capture your imagination.

And that's a real shame, because Startup Crypt has plenty of brilliant concepts that could have made it a compulsive and endearing card game.

As it is, while there's enough to enjoy here that if you're tempted you should try it out, the recommendation I'm chucking out is nowhere near as glowing as it could have been.
Startup Grave review - A solo card game that's plagued by the major problem of the genre
Reviewer photo
Harry Slater | 18 June 2018
There are some solid ideas here, but in the end the randomness and the lack of progression throw a spanner in the works
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