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SyndicatedXbox One

Balatro Wants You to Play Poker – and Then Break It Apart

I’ve built decks where a simple pair is more powerful than a straight flush. I’ve built decks that mean straights no longer work the way they should, and allow me to create wild combos more frequently. I’ve built decks where I’ve experimented and discovered that there are valid poker hands here that don’t even exist in the real-life game – five of a kind, anyone?

I’ve discovered a new way to play Balatro on every single run I’ve played, quite literally –and I’ve played a lot. This isn’t a game about working within the rules to succeed, it’s about changing the rules to help you redefine what success is. I’ve already hit point scores I didn’t necessarily think were possible when I started playing – and, looking in the unlocks menu, I’ve realised that there are point scores that still feel baffling this far into my time with the game.

Speaking of unlocks, this is where Balatro offers you a meaningful sense of progression. Every new run is a total reset – you can’t keep abilities or receive passive upgrades, but hitting (often very specific) targets will unlock new cards for you to use in future runs. I’m now looking through menus between each run, working out what bizarre goal I want to hit next – a run where I somehow have 30 club cards in my deck? Let’s give it a try.

Perhaps my biggest reservation going into Balatro is that there was no story to anchor this all to – I’ve loved roguelike deckbuilders’ many approaches to slowly but surely offering up a narrative through what amount to simple games of cards. But I’ve come to realise that part of the beauty here is that this game swaps story for atmosphere.

[This article originally appeared on Xbox Wire]

Xbox Wire

Posts by this account are syndicated from Xbox Wire.

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