Alina of the Arena (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Athanasios 27.01.2024

Review for Alina of the Arena on Nintendo Switch

All fans of deck building roguelikes know of Slay the Spire, as it remains one of the most successful and influential in the genre… the genre that it basically created. Alina of the Arena by PINIX takes the basic concept behind Mega Crit's indie classic and throws it in a grid-based coliseum-like ring, with the crowd shouting and cheering, throwing items and coin, and generally adding a live vibe to it all. Here's a quick look at it.

Once a rarity, there are now many a deck-building roguelikes. That makes it extra hard for newcomers to stand out in what is a constantly increasing library, and Alina of the Arena doesn't try that hard, as it's a typical example of the genre. Alina, the titular heroine, slowly builds a deck of cards, aka a skillset, and must then make the best of it. The element of randomization is quite strong, so apart from planning ahead, players must be ready to change their tactics on the fly, carefully planning what to do with their deck, Alina's equipment, when to enter a shop and what to buy, when to rest to heal, and so on. Nothing new, nothing new.

What separates this from the rest is right there in the name. Fights take place on an arena, with the sound of the crowd making you feel like a gladiator fighting for his/her life. They cheer when Alina performs well and reward her with items, get bored when she takes too long to land a hit, and shower her with coins after the defeat of her foes. Most importantly, unlike other like-minded games, this takes place on a grid, so one must also be mindful of placement - a very crucial element, which is why movement cards are rare, and the basic 'Initiative' one, will be lost if not used at the start of each turn when it makes its appearance.

Screenshot for Alina of the Arena on Nintendo Switch

A nice little mechanic is how cards are divided between two colours, with red and blue corresponding to the accordingly coloured right or left equipment slots, forcing players to be even more careful when adding or throwing away cards from their deck (or recolouring them), as these are affected from the correlating equipped item. When in combat damage and defence values are clearly shown, therefore you are always able to calculate the outcome, instead of relying on the constant opening and closing of stat menus and the like.

Now, the whole process is surely fun, but gets repetitive quite soon, never really managing to evoke that addictive, "just one more round" feeling. Playing matches slowly unlocks more classes which have their own special cards and starting loadout, and they are varied enough that everyone can find their favourite, but this doesn't help much. Note that a complete run is divided between "chapters" of varying difficulty, but since the big bad that awaits in the end of each chapter can pose quite the challenge, and the battles that lead to him can eat quite a bit of your health, many will spend quite some time in the beginning, and inevitably get bored.

As a final note, while an all-around solid piece of software, the UI ad control scheme for this console port is not that user-friendly. In the first couple of rounds, one could even call it confusing - probably a leftover from its initial PC release? The balance is somewhat off as well. Nothing too terrible, but it does need some tweaking, as the RNG can be somewhat unfair at times (even for a rogue-like), and some cards are basically useless. Even worse, for something build so heavily around positioning, skills that let Alina move are a rarity, almost to the point of aggravation, especially when dealing with those bloody critters that can move super-fast on the arena.

Screenshot for Alina of the Arena on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 6 out of 10


Alina of the Arena offers a neat blend of the typical deck-building fun, with the more complex battlefield of a grid-based strategy title. That said, it's a little underwhelming in terms of content, and even presentation (although the arena feel it provides is quite good). Plus it is in need of some rebalancing. Oh, and more cards that enable movement. Ah, yes, and the console-unfriendly control scheme leaves a lot to be desired on the Switch.









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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