What “Slay the Spire” lacks in story, it more than makes up for it fun – Review

In preparation for this month’s podcast, I’ve been playing A Short Hike, Eliza, and the topic of this week’s review, Slay the Spire.

So how fun is it?

Pros

  • Hugely replayable
  • Very easy and quick to pick up and play
  • Rewardingly strategic

Cons

  • Barebones story
  • Luck can play too big a role sometimes
  • Style isn’t much to get excited about

Slay the Spire is a very simple, but strategic, roguelike deck-building game. Once you’ve loaded it up, you’ll pick a character and start your run. You’ll select your route through a level and be on your way, defeating enemies (standard or elite), resting by campfires (where you can heal or upgrade cards), buying various things from a merchant and playing through mysterious encounters (which can net you more cards, items or curses).

At the end of a level, you’ll have to beat the boss. Defeat it and you’re onto the next level. As you progress, you’ll earn more cards to add to your deck – improving your repertoire of attacks, skills and powers – you’ll pick up more artefacts to enhance your character permanently, and you’ll find potions for temporary mid-battle boosts.

If you die, your run ends and you’ll earn experience that will unlock new characters and more cards for future playthroughs. Then you jump back in and try again – I found it very addictive to try and outdo each of my runs.

The story is almost non-existent. As far as I could tell, you play as one of four mysterious warriors making your way up a mysterious spire, defeating enemies along the way for some reason. The game occasionally throws in the odd bit of exposition and world-building, but I barely noticed it. While it is, in my opinion, always better if there is a meaty narrative to get stuck into, in this case, it didn’t bother me that much – it wasn’t crucial to why I was playing or enjoying Slay the Spire.

The gameplay is easy to get the hang of and you can do everything you need to with a laptop trackpad – so it ranks high in accessibility and user experience – there’s little to learn here! At the beginning of every fight, you’ll draw a random hand of cards from your draw deck.

Each card costs a certain amount of energy to use, and you have a finite amount of that to spend each turn. Once you’ve exhausted your energy, your remaining cards shuffle off into the discard pile and it’s over to your enemies to fight back. There’s plenty of strategic thinking involved, especially in the harder ‘elite’ and ‘boss’-level fights.

The game can come down to luck (if you don’t get the cards you need, you might be screwed) which can utterly ruin an otherwise successful run. Also, the aesthetics of the game, while absolutely fine, are nothing to write home about, and it would have been nice to get a larger cast of characters to play as.

The Verdict

To sum it up, Slay the Spire is neither style nor substance, really, but it is plenty of fun regardless.

It was developed by Mega Crit Games and is available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PC, and Xbox One.

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