I picked up Slay the Spire on heavy recommendation from my friend who has a very solid stamp of quality. The best thing about the Switch is what is have done for my indie gaming. Undertale, Hollow Knight, Rocket League, Into the Breach… all started on the PC, and now have found second and improved life on the Switch. Spire is no different, I am so thankful to be playing this game on lunch break, in bed, or in the bathroom. It plays wonderfully well in short bursts. A successful run takes a little over an hour (although I probably play slow) but you can put down and pick-up with ease.
Spire is a rogue-lite deck-building game that is Single Player. You have three characters you can start off as and they all bring a unique card choices and play style. You have to clear three acts in one run. If you do well enough in that run there is a final boss to face in a finale. On the way, you’ll add cards and relics (think passive effects) to your deck that makes each run unique. You have a branching overworld map to select which floor you want to challenge as you ascend the spire, but there is still quite a bit of RNG in terms of which enemies you will face, and what challenges you have to overcome.
The mechanics are similar to Hearthstone (Attack, Block that wears off after each turn, unless you find a way for it NOT to, mana to use cards, etc). But the variety that exists between how your deck plays out, which cards your deck ends up having, and the enemies you will face is immense. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to how you play your deck, because the relics you get, which are extremely powerful, and the cards available to you, are mostly random. Early on I had a hugely successful run where I was a master of block. I had a relic that gave me block every time I took damage. A card that made me take a little damage to deal an AoE attack every turn (thus giving me more block). An additional relic that let me keep most of my block after every round. and several cards that let me double my block, and ways to redraw those cards again. Bosses with even the mightiest of attacks would be no match for my 100 block. And I would just bide my time until I got the card that allowed me to deal damage equal to my block…for 1 mana. It was a delight, I felt almighty as I mostly cruised through the mid-game like some all-powerful Minister of Defense. My next three runs went miserably as I tried to horde cards that gave me block and duplicate my strategy. The plan was completely useless without the relic that allowed me to retain my block from turn to turn.
But therein lies the fun of Slay the Spire. Ascending into card playing godhood is all we ever want when we play cards. The most fun I have ever during my hearthstone days was with an extremely complicated series of cards using an overpriced Dreadsteed and a deck list designed to stall and eventually make my board impossible to wipe. It rarely ever worked, I was usually down to no health by the time my deck got rolling, (that’s what happens when you have a 7 turn set-up and need your cards to come in a specific order) but when it did.
Spire gives you that feeling over-and-over again. You can feel when you’ve got a good rhythm going, foes are dropping quickly as you ascend and then you find the perfect card to round out your deck. And as it transitions to the end-game (heh), needing to, in order to complete your run. As the difficulty ramps, decisions become more impactful, turns need to be meticulously thought out, and one or two cards under performing in your deck can cost you the run.
Slay the Spire does deck building AND roguelite better than it’s competitors, and has a core gameplay loop that will keep you coming back. However, I could see how end-game content and DLC may be difficult to expand on, but I don’t see myself needing more content for a long time.
93/100 – “Worth Every Penny”