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Balatro Review

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I think this is the most addictive card game I ever played on PC. Ever more addictive and more fun than Slay the Spire! Unlocking all the achievements will take many many hours. It has no missable achievements.


Approximate amount of time to 100%: Many, many hours… I have no idea how long it will take
Estimated achievement difficulty: 6/10
Minimum number of playthroughs needed: You have to play many runs
Is there a good guide available: Not yet
Multiplayer achievements: No
Missable achievements: No
Grinding Achievements: You’ll play many games, but you also want to play many games as it is so addictive
DLC-Only achievements: No
Speedrun achievements: One achievement, with the iconic name “Speedrunner” might feel like a speedrun, but it is more like trying to get an optimal run with as less active rounds as possible.
Time-gated achievements: No
RNG-achievements: You will need some RNG, but there is also skill and knowledge involved. And you’ll play many runs for most of the achievements, so that counters the luck in some way
Does difficulty affect achievements: Yes, you’ll have to play runs on higher difficulties as well, but you always start on the basic difficulty
Unobtainable/glitched achievements: No

Wow, I’m blown away by Balatro! I love board and card games irl, on PC.. it is very hit-and-miss for me. Some card games feel unbalanced, or just too damn hard… And I never played Poker IRL, so this shouldn’t be the game for me… but I got intrigued by what I saw and then I got sucked in and I don’t think I’ll come out of whatever crazy addictive stuff this is for a while. Did I already mention it is addictive? I have been playing every free hour I found in the last few days, and if I wasn’t playing but had the headspace, I have been thinking about it.

This is in some way a kinda of poker game, with the different poker hands, but it will turn it upside down and inside out all at the same time. When you start a run, you’ll have a few discards and hands and have to reach a score of 300. You’ll see what the basic combination is worth in points, but you have to add the amount the cards are worth as well. What I didn’t figure out at first, you can also use the “play a hand” as a discard lite option. If you for example make a Three of a kinda hand, you can add two other cards you just want to dump. They won’t score, but your hand will be refilled. After winning a round you go to the shop, and from there on it will be crazy. You have room for like 5 “Jokers” which are different abilities. For example “score more with heart cards” or “Score more when using face cards”, but also some abilities such as having one more discard option, or that hearts and diamonds count as the same suit. There are also ways to improve the number of points the combo gives you, or just change how your deck looks… changing the suits of cards, so you have more from one suit and less from others, removing cards, adding cards, adding special effects to cards. This game will throw it all at you, already when you start, but by playing more and more you’ll unlock more stuff so it can get crazier and crazier. This is what makes it so addictive, no run will be the same as you have no clue what kind of abilities will come up. And if that wasn’t enough, there are also different starting decks, most of them still have the normal 52 playing cards, but the things you start with, or the rules in the game slightly change with each deck.

However, the game is quite challenging in my opinion. I will be the first to admit that I might suck at this game, as I see others doing crazy stuff, but sometimes you need a bit of luck next to a lot of determination and commitment. This is the type of game where commitment can break or make you, but the runs I did well were those where I leaned into what the game gave me and ran with it. I experienced many runs that ended very early, and some in the middle, but if you have a nice synergy, you can come very far.

The achievements for Balatro are challenging and maybe a bit grindy, but it is an addictive game. I see myself not completing this game any time soon if ever ( as some achievements look scary). However, I see myself returning for a run or 2 on a daily (maybe later on a weekly) basis. 1/3 of the achievements aren’t hard to get, for a lot of others you’ll just have to play the game a lot to unlock all the different kinds of stuff to be able to show up in your runs. I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes over 100 hours to complete this game. In the many runs I played while writing this, I felt I made progress.. in the way of learning how to play the game, as well as literally unlocking stuff, and by trying different play styles I keep unlocking stuff which felt also already like unlocking achievements but then in-game.

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This review for Balatro was written on 22 Februari 2024, based on the current Steam version of the game which has 31 achievements at the time of writing this review. This information can be outdated, for example, when the developer adds or removes achievements or releases (new) DLC.

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