How to train your dragon.

Well, here we are, back in the dungeon. Although it doesn’t look terribly uncomfortable, who wants to be cooped up any more this year? But since we need to stay in for a while longer, we may as well have some fun with it.

Unhatched is billed as a Puzzle Adventure Card Game, and that is fairly accurate. There are cards involved, the story is an adventure tale, and winning each round is more like solving a puzzle. Fair enough.

The game is not a stage for dancing digits on the controller; the basic mechanics are to use the left Joy-Con to choose left or right, and to make a selection with the A button. How can L/R and Go be anything other than easy? Ah, therein lies the rub.

You get to choose the cards in your deck (your selection is limited, of course) and the order in which you get to play them. What you don’t see is what your opponent is holding or the order in which he will play the cards until each is exposed. Here’s where the puzzle part comes in. Since you can choose the order in which you play your cards, you will need to put a little thought into that order.

There are a couple of factors to consider here—one is that each type of card in your deck is paired, the other is that the pairs will line up in positions 1&4, 2&5, and 3&6. Choose your lineup carefully and pay close attention to what your opponent plays (his deck is set up with the same rules as yours).

At the beginning of the story, you are a prisoner in the royal dungeon. A strange benefactor comes and offers to get you out, but you have to do some things—no questions asked. It’s a shady way to start, but who wants to hang out in a dungeon if you don’t have to? You also get a strange floating mask advisor. He’ll give you a hint before each round, if he’s in the mood (take the advice). The game is a series of choices; move your left Joy-Con left or right to see your options, then press the A button to choose. The choices get a little stranger from here.

Your liberator takes you to a pub and you are tasked with opening a jar of pickles. It’s a bit odd to use a task such as this to play a strategy card game, but I really enjoy a nice kosher dill, so I’m in. You also end up with a dragon egg. The dragon becomes a pet and potential element in the game play, so take care of your new little friend. After the pub, you get to walk through the woods following a nymph—just keep choosing left or right to keep following her. While you are in the woods, you’ll come across a unicorn in need of a muse, so your card battle will serve that purpose, as well. You go through these and other oddities to get to the goal of breaking into a safe. You collect new cards along the way, but your playable deck caps off at six.

That reminds me—earlier, it was noted your cards come in pairs. If you have a card for, let’s say, a grappling hook, there will be two cards with a grappling hook on it. One of the grappling hook cards will have options to either get one mana or let you pay one mana to use it. The other grappling hook card in the pair will offer you the choice to get one mana or to play an extra card that turn. All of the cards offer this sort of alternate function pair. This gets important when considering the order in which you will play your cards.

That takes care of the gameplay, so let’s talk about the presentation. The graphics are simple 2D with a slight comic book appearance that matches Unhatched’s sense of whimsy. The audio, on the other hand, is not quite as pleasant. The music loop gets a bit old and the vocals are just a series of hums and grunts (no actual words). The non-verbal vocals don’t offer much, but I’m sure a handful of “mmm-mmmms” is more flexible than trying to record all of the actual dialogue. It is a bit flat in general, and grinds on my nerves. Fortunately, you can turn the volume down/off and just play the game while listening to your favorite tunes.

Ultimately, Unhatched is lighthearted and sometimes silly adventure card game, but that’s OK.  For $1.99 at press time ($4.99 standard), this isn’t a bad option for whiling away a couple hours.