Slay the Spire is a roguelike card game developed by the studio MegaCrit. In the game, the player takes control of one of the four available characters and sets on a journey to progress through four increasingly difficult and randomly generated levels. Each level is filled with encounters and events, and they all culminate in a boss fight. The game is simple, quite challenging, and addictive. After each defeat I faced at the hands of the many enemies of the spire, I felt more motivated to start over and try again.
Character selection screen.
The game revolves around losing, which is bound to happen plenty. The basic idea of advancing through all four levels is interesting due to the deck-building aspect of the game. In combat, every action you take – be it defensive, offensive, or something else – is done using cards in turn-based combat. At the start of level one, the player has only a few basic cards to their name. But with each won battle, the player is presented with the option of picking one out of three choices in cards to add to their deck. This way the game allows the player to try and build just the right deck for them – perhaps you want to focus on defensive cards, or maybe you are trying to build a deadly deck of cards with a poison effect.
There is, of course, no guarantee that you can run into the cards that you want or need. Thus, not picking any of the cards is often the optimal choice. After all, bloating your deck with unfitting cards will mean that it takes you longer to get to the ones you want in battle. The randomness of it all is quite exciting, as it keeps the hope of building that amazing, unstoppable deck alive even in some hopeless situations. And the decks can become extremely overpowered, which is part of the fun. For the most part, the decks are okay but not amazing, and your adventure might end at an unexpected junction. But on those occasions that you get the perfect set of cards? The fights, boss fights included, will be ever so satisfying. Managing to pull off a delicate combo that you have been designing for the last twenty minutes feels great.
A fight! The game showcases what your enemies are doing next turn so that you can react accordingly.
But even if you get the perfect deck of cards the game can end in your untimely demise surprisingly quickly. For one, your character’s health does not regenerate between regular fights, but only after boss fights or after certain events, or after using specific items. Maybe your deck of cards needs a few turns to truly get going, but this certain enemy must be finished off quickly and you fail to draw the right cards at the right time. Or perhaps you have been building your defenses – but the enemy you ran into happens to gain strength every time a defensive card is played.
Overall, the game is fantastic fun with tons of replayability options. The various relics (items), potions, and a large host of cards for each of the four characters keep the game interesting for a long time. Anyone with even a passing interest in either roguelikes or deck-building games should give Slay the Spire a go.
- Publisher: Humble Bundle
- Developer: MegaCrit
- Platforms: Windows, macOS, Linux, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, iOS, Android.
- Release Date: January 23, 2019 (originally, on Windows, macOS, and Linux)
- Genres: Roguelike, card game
Header picture. Promotional picture of the game, taken from: https://www.megacrit.com/press/
Pictures of the game: Screenshots from the game, taken by the author.
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