I trembled, not from the night air. In the dimly lit stable, I was making my horse nervous, too. But I forced myself to be firm, despite hot blood gushing from my tender, broken lip onto my torn nightgown.
"So what now, Anne? You're going to shoot your own husband? Like your insane sister?"
Tell me you don't want to keep playing Heartwild Solitaire after an introduction like that. Heartwild Solitaire is marketed as "made for romance readers", so if your second-favourite thing after casual gaming is sinking into a hot tub with a lychee bath bomb and a copy of Love's Turgid Kransky, you're going to love this game. The nice thing is, if you're the sort of person who prefers to lampoon romance novels with titles like Love's Turgid Kransky, you'll still enjoy the challenging gameplay, soothing music and intense colours.
Gameplay is fairly simple: Clear the play field by selecting matching cards by rank. Selecting the King of Spades and the King of Hearts is a match and will clear the board — King of Spades and 8 of Spades will not. You get bonuses for speed, sequential clearing (i.e. 2, 3, 4), and identical cards (such as two Kings of Spades). Special cards not only give match bonuses, they also give power-ups such as extra deals and shuffles. In addition to the main game, there are challenges where you need to play with no extra deal or where you need to quickly select the suggested cards (i.e. all Hearts, the 2 of Clubs).
Sounds easy, huh? Maybe, if you're a solitaire legend and you carefully hoard your shuffles and retries. I got about halfway through the story and ran out of both cards and power-ups. Fortunately, you don't have to start all over again just to find out what happens, as your score will be recorded (if you've made the high score table) and you can start from where you left off with zero points and a new set of bonuses.
Analysis: What raises Heartwild Solitaire well above a typical solitaire game is the story and ambience. As you play each level, a further chapter of the story is revealed. I won't lie to you — I'm not a romance reader (unless it's something fairly high-falutin' like Wuthering Heights), and the story is somewhat clunkily written. In fact, it gets outright preposterous at times and suffers from a few typical problems of self-published work (oh noes! Typos!). But I really like the idea of a story that unfolds as you play and rewards you for completing levels, and it will be interesting to see what happens if game developers and authors follow up on this idea. If the story doesn't do it for you, you can comfortably spend hours going "ooooh, pretty" at the iridescent backgrounds.