Title: Slay the Spire
Developer: Mega Crit
Publisher: Humble Bundle
Genre: Adventure, Role-Playing, Strategy
Age Rating: PEGI 7
Release Date: 21/05/2019
Price: £19.99 – Rapid Reviews UK was very kindly provided with a review code for this title.
So I have this friend, a great guy who has introduced me to some fantastic games. But, he has always steadfastly refused to even consider a lot of turn-based games, or digital card games like Hearthstone. So when he messaged me and said “I’ve been playing a turn-based digital card game” I knew it had to be something special.
Slay the Spire was that game, and boy is it something special.
Slay the Spire originally came out in 2017 in Early Access for PC but had its official release in 2019. For those of you unfamiliar with the game, it’s a merger between deck-building card games and roguelikes. You pick one of three characters, all with unique skills and cards, and work your way up the Spire. Each section of the Spire has new backgrounds, new enemies and new events. Along the way, there are mini-bosses, and at the end of each section, you face a boss, randomly selected from the boss pool.
As with any roguelike you only have one life, so when you die, that’s it. You’ve got to start the run over again without any of the progress you made. Slay the Spire does give you something for your efforts though, you unlock new powerful cards for future runs. A full run from start to finish takes around an hour, but I spent over twenty hours of play trying to get there, and I fully intend to play more.
The combat is fantastic. In what feels like a nod to JRPGs, your character is on the left, and the enemies are on the right. You’re given a certain amount of energy (starting with 3 but increasing during the run) and a new hand of cards every turn. Cards all have a cost and are split between attacks, buffs and debuffs with different card types. You select your cards, and then they play out in turn-based combat. I played a few runs with the starting character, Ironclad, tried out the Silent but then fell in love with the Defect.
The Defect is a robot of some kind, who has orbs which can be used to do passive effects. I fell in love with this character because they can pull off insane combos and have some really exciting cards like one that you get a large number of that every time you use it the cost to play it reduces and the damage it does increases. The feeling you get when you line up the perfect combo and take down a boss’ life by half in a single turn is so, so satisfying.
I could go on about the gameplay in Slay the Spire for hours, talking about the ingenious encounter design or the often hilarious or devious events along the routes up the Spire but then this review wouldn’t be very Rapid, would it?
Graphically, the game has a nice hand-drawn style to it. Everything on-screen looks like it has been painted by hand, and the design of everything from the characters to the cards and the monsters you fight are consistent in style. The world of Slay the Spire has a lot of personalities, for example, the giant whale that introduces every run or any of the interesting and sometimes creepy bosses.
On top of the standard game where you make your way up the Spire, you also have the option to compete online with other players by doing daily runs, as you can with genre superstar, Spelunky. These are set runs that have the same enemies and events in the same order for every player, so it is pure skill and not luck that determines how far you progress. I played the daily run a few times to test it out and loved the format. This is something I will return to in lulls between significant releases.
It’s probably fairly obvious by now that I am really in love with Slay the Spire, and if your brain is wired to enjoy strategic gameplay and you can deal with sometimes the luck of the draw going against you, I think you will love it too. This game is so well made and balanced that my wife, who sat down next to me saying “I don’t know why you would play a game like this, just play a real card game” was soon trying to take the pad from me and start her own run.
With excellent gameplay, great art and a really good price point for how many hours of game you can get from it, I wholeheartedly recommend Slay the Spire. I played the PS4 version, which is what I cover in this review, but I understand the game runs great on its other platforms as well and the gameplay is unchanged.
Go buy this game!
Rapid Reviews Rating
If you’d like to buy Slay The Spire on PS4 you can do so here: https://store.playstation.com/en-gb/product/EP3717-CUSA15338_00-SLAYTHESPIREGAME