HomeReviews3.5/5 ReviewDreamland Solitaire: Dark Prophecy Review

Dreamland Solitaire: Dark Prophecy Review

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680 puzzles later, we are at the end of our quest: to complete and review every Dreamland Solitaire game on the Xbox. We’re not delusional, though – we know another three could drop on the Store at any moment. But at least we are up to date.

So far, the Dreamland Solitaire games have delivered something of a surprise. They are silly, overblown takes on Spider Solitaire that lean into what makes that game of Patience satisfying, rather than take anything away. They have acted as a bit of a pressure-valve in the evenings for the past three weeks, even if they’ve irritated my wife. “Surely you can’t still be playing that game?”. Yep, I’m afraid so.

Dreamland Solitaire: Dark Prophecy immediately ups the stakes by delivering 280 puzzles, rather than the customary 200. My wife got to watch a little more Solitaire this time round. We’re not entirely sure the Dreamland Solitaire games needed more content, but we’ll get to that in a moment.

Dreamland Solitaire Dark Prophecy review 1
MORE Dreamland Solitaire?

Everything else is familiar. Like Dreamland Solitaire: Dragon’s Fury, there’s a story to lubricate the card gaming. A witch has sent a noxious purple gas circulating round the kingdom (fart jokes are optional) and it’s down to you, a fairy and a wizard to confront her. That’s a quest that needs to stretch across nearly three-hundred puzzles, so there’s a lot of bogging down going on. You’re building palaces and outfitting boats along the way.

For anyone new to Dreamland Solitaire, you will probably be wondering what this has to do with a deck of cards. Not a lot, as it happens. But by removing cards from the play area, you may uncover the odd purple potion, which can be spent on these little intermediary missions. Each potion brings you a little closer to the witch.

There’s a greater sense of padding things out with Dreamland Solitaire: Dark Prophecy. It makes sense with the larger body of puzzles, but we missed the ‘old days’ of last week when we were playing Dragon’s Fury. You’re stuck looking at the same pictures as you construct every last element within it. And there’s an added sense of grind, too. The Dreamland Solitaire games have always asked you to accumulate a set number of potions to continue, which involved a smidge of backtracking, but in Dreamland Solitaire: Dark Prophecy it feels more onerous. We actually started to feel the sense of grind.

Thankfully, there’s little that has changed for the worse in the card-playing itself. Dreamland Solitaire, over the course of the three games, has developed quite the roster of power-ups and obstacles, so there’s a lot to play with. Hammers remove rock, axes remove twine, water removes fire, lanterns remove smoke and many more. The only new addition is scissors which remove string, which are hardly revolutionary, as they act almost identically to the axes. But the two can stack, we suppose, so it gets something of a pass.

Dreamland Solitaire Dark Prophecy review 2
This one is a Dark Prophecy

What’s important is that the manipulation of the cards feels almost as tactile and ergonomic as sitting in front of a deck yourself. Dreamland Solitaire: Dark Prophecy opts for cursor controls which works surprisingly well, and it’s entirely possible to chuck card after card over your shoulder like you were a burrowing mole. There’s very little as satisfying as reaching a combo that stretches into double-figures, as a pyramid of cards is returned to its foundations.

Play enough and you will soon gather a bit of a gold pile. This can be spent on upgrades that dial up the arcadeness even further. Powers can be bought that increase as you gather cards of a particular suit: our favourite being a chain lightning that removes up to two cards. Squint and you could be playing a shoot ’em up as the deck explodes. But there are also wild cards to buy, jokers that become a card of your choice, and additional cards for the deck.

There are a couple of brand new upgrades here, including the ability to flip a few cards over so you can see them prematurely – perhaps keying into the ‘Dark Prophecy’ of the title. But they are another minor, incremental improvement that characterises this game. We’d even suggest that there’s been something of a step back: it feels like it takes longer to unlock everything in the game – a symptom of the greater number of levels, perhaps.

But Dreamland Solitaire: Dark Prophecy really didn’t need more levels. 200 puzzles was more than enough for a fiver, and a prolonged game experience wasn’t high on our list of wants. Since there is a cost – that everything has been stretched out, with feelings of grind creeping through the resulting holes – then Dreamland Solitaire: Dark Prophecy feels like the weakest of the trilogy. It’s far from bad, but the joyful march to the end of the games is punctuated by plods.

Dreamland Solitaire Dark Prophecy review 3
Get snipping with Solitaire…

Having come to the end of our Dreamland adventure, we see nothing but suits and numbers when we close our eyes. But it’s been a surprisingly painless experience: to a game, these are playful, refreshingly arcadey experiences, and they don’t remotely feel like the mobile ports that they are.

But if we were to point a finger at one of them and say ‘this is the worst of the bunch’, it would be Dreamland Solitaire: Dark Prophecy. It follows the inevitable rule of sequels: it needs to be bigger. But by going bigger, something is lost, as fatigue and grind become a factor when they weren’t before.

Pick Dreamland Solitaire: Dark Prophecy up if you somehow need more Spider Solitaire after the first two Dreamland games. Otherwise, this can sit cozily on a wishlist for a while.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • So many cards for your money
  • An OTT take on Solitaire
  • Controls work well on console
Cons:
  • Can feel grindy
  • Can feel samey
  • Solitaire won’t be for everyone
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, TXH
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One
  • Release date and price - 5 April 2024 | £4.99
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>So many cards for your money</li> <li>An OTT take on Solitaire</li> <li>Controls work well on console</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Can feel grindy</li> <li>Can feel samey</li> <li>Solitaire won’t be for everyone</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, TXH</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One <li>Release date and price - 5 April 2024 | £4.99</li> </ul>Dreamland Solitaire: Dark Prophecy Review
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