Posted in Game Review

Game Review – Slay the Spire

Slay the Spire is a deckbuilding roguelike dungeon crawler. Slay the Spire has four playable characters: The Ironclad, The Silent, The Defect, and The Watcher, each with a unique deck and strategy. You play cards to execute attacking and defensive moves against your enemies. In each, the object is to strategically play your hand in the optimal way in order to defeat your enemies before they kill you. After each win you get to add a new card to your deck to expand your tactical possibilities alongside your character’s experience.

Outside of cards, you can find consumable Potions that give you temporary boosts, but the really exciting pickups are the Relics. They can be found in chests and from beating bosses or special elite enemies, and they offer permanent advantages. Some are as simple as a permanent attack boost, while others will do things like randomize the cost of every single card you draw. The more you have, the crazier things get. Many of them have drawbacks to go along with their perk, like Relics that increase the mana you have to play cards at the cost of not being able to heal or gain gold, adding to your pile of difficult decisions.

The enemies range from creepy slimes to giant bird cultists. Each one is a tricky puzzle to solve in its own right, The enemies don’t play cards of their own, instead they fight by inflicting damage, applying status effects, or buffing themselves each turn. And you can almost always see what the enemies will do next, which gives you the opportunity to strategically plan your moves to counter their plans.

The enemies are randomly distributed along a simple but amusing dungeon map broken into three main acts, and they get harder and more diverse as you move higher up the Spire. Despite that randomness, it didn’t take long before I started recognizing most of them, which starts to make runs feel a bit too similar.

Which path you take up the spire is a fun test of your ability to weigh long-term goals against short-term needs. Like the decisions you make deckbuilding, learning when to detour is a skill, and different strategies are viable.  Random events also line the path, and while some pose interesting choices, some of the random events have some choices that are clearly better than the others.

Slay the Spire has captured the essence of what makes a card game great: the joy of building a deck and optimizing it as much as you can. It encourages experimentation, gives you time to make mistakes, and will challenge you to a great extent as you navigate your way through floor after floor of interesting fights.

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