Fungus. This reviewer isn’t such a fan. Documentaries and informative articles have revealed the amazing role of myconia in our world. They’re an essential part of the life cycle for both flora and fauna. Without them, the earth would be a very different, perhaps barren, place. It’s reported that they’re supposedly tasty too.
But, dear reader, you came not for personal diatribes railing fungal flavor. It just so happens that walking in the woods looking for mushrooms can be a game theme and a pretty good one at that. The card game Morels (2012, Brent Povis) and it’s adaptation into an iOS app are the fodder for this review. Sit back and feast on this reflection on a 2-player card game with set collection taking center-plate. A meal of a game clocks in at 30 minutes.
Players are attempting to collect mushroom cards and cook them using a frying pan and various flavorings, if possible. To accomplish the finding, a row of mushroom cards, flavor cards, moon cards, and frying pan cards will stroll by in front of the players. At the end of each turn, the last card in the row goes to the “decay”.
During a turn, a player can purchase cards by paying a cost in “foraging sticks” based on its position in the row. Cards get cheaper as they approach the decay or players can take a group of cards that have landed in the decay. Players can obtain these foraging sticks by, instead, discarding a set of 2 or more of the same cards. Once players have a group of the same mushrooms, they can play them with a frying pan card to cook them and score points equaling the total value of the cards played. Flavor cards will add bonus points.
The core of the decisions in the game revolve around the varied value and availability of the mushroom cards. Some are plentiful and worth few points, while the rare “Morels” variety of mushrooms are worth the most. Adding a twist to this, a purchased moon card will get you a random mushroom card from a different deck of “Night” cards, sometimes these can make just the perfect larger card count set.
Play progresses turn by turn with each player taking an action. Once the deck of forest mushrooms is empty, players are scored by each set they have played.
Digital Game Experience:
As the conversion of physical to electronic games go, a few years ago this effort would have gotten a higher score. In the current landscape, other titles like Jaipur have raised the bar. Overall, the production here is straightforward, with little to amaze.
The interface is passable with graphics coming straight from the physical game. The tutorial is helpful, easy to understand, and not terribly boring. The small animations and sound effects in the game are cute. All in all, it serves the purposes needed, but doesn’t bring any more flavor or style to the original. It’s stolid, but fans of the original will simply be happy to have a digital version.
If readers were eagerly jumping to this section to see how a 6-year-old game fares on iOS, be prepared to be underwhelmed. There is a class of games on iOS that see mediocre translations from the original game with minor art updates and animations that really don’t serve to dress up the implementation beyond what’s expected. This is one of those games.
And, good thing, because there’s really nothing horrible about this implementation either. The AI does a fair job of being an intelligent opponent. The real negative is that after playing a few dozen games, gamers will likely call it a day here.
One included highlight is online matchmaking, but it’s a rare site to see another forager online seeking to play. The only real value-add for the digital version is the tutorial, guiding new shroom-hunters on their first forays in the woods. Yours truly had heard of Morels plenty but had never had a chance to play until this review came along.
Just like a walk in the woods on a calm, autumn day, the iOS edition of Morels is a peaceful, by-the-book implementation of the card game. It could make you forget about other titles with better animation and flashier graphics, but really the sole reason for downloading this would be to learn the game and enjoy the, in this day and age, underwhelming gameplay. Players who loved the card game version of Morels will be satiated but today’s modern, hungrier gamer is likely to be left feeling unsatisfied.
Final Score: 2.5 Stars – Barely reaching 3-star level, the game is decent, but the implementation is so by-the-book that it makes the whole product forgettable.
• Faithful adaptation
• Online matchmaking
• Solid tutorial
• Few added options in play
• Repeated plays grow tiresome
Pass on the tabletop version too.