I've realized that I'm often times referring to Slay the Spire when I talk about other games, comparing each other and even pointing out how said game is different or similar to Slay the Spire. Fun enough, though, I never took the time to actually talk about Slay the Spire in the first place. So instead of introducing another fun gem I've discovered to you, I'm going to take a closer look at one of my all time favorites and discuss why Slay the Spire is the genre defining masterpiece it is!
When Slay the Spire was released as early access back in late 2017, it came out of nowhere. The CCG craze was going wild, with dozens of Hearthstone clones popping up left an right. But while multiplayer card battlers were on their all time height, the single player card game genre was somewhat overlooked. Slay the Spire was the one title that managed to change that forever. Not only that, though, it created a whole new genre in its wake - the Roguelite Deckbuilder. Nowadays, when I want to explain how a game works, I'll often start by pointing out that it's similar to Slay the Spire and then only explain the features that are different. But what exactly is a Roguelite Deckbuilder?
Well, in Slay the Spire, you choose one of four different characters and embark on a journey to climb each floor of the spire to ultimately beat the great evil living on the top floor. To tell the truth, the story is not really relevant and while the game has a lot of small story pieces, it never took the time to really explain it. Either way, each of these 4 characters has a unique starting deck, special abilities, and also a lot of additional unique cards and artifacts that you can find along the way. You climb the spire one step at a time, either fighting enemies, visiting a shop, or taking part in an event. If you survive the stage, you are usually rewarded with an additional card for your deck, money, an artifact adding new passive effects, and so on. Most of the time, you don't get do decide which card you exactly want. Instead, you are presented with a random selection of cards and you either choose one to add to your deck or you just move one, not adding anything.
Should you die during your adventure, you will restart the game at the lowest floor and once again only equipped with your starter deck. There still is some form of progression in the game, though. You do unlock new cards and artifacts to find in later runs as you complete floors with each of the classes. These cards allow completely different builds and play styles. Each of the four classes has a real unique feel to it, playing around with completely different mechanics. On top of that, each hero has a few different viable builds that all can work in the right circumstances. Add something like 50 different artifacts, each with a unique effect, on top of that and you start to understand just how many different strategies are possible in Slay the Spire. This is one of the parts that make the game so interesting as well. Since you only get to choose between a few random picks, there's usually no telling what your strategy is going to look like eventually. You just have to go with what you get and try to make the most of it.
Slay the Spire's core gameplay revolves around fighting the many different bad guys you'll meat in the Spire. Each floor, there potentially is a fight against 1 to 5 monsters waiting for you. Each turn, you draw a new hand, play cards until you run out of energy or options, and then pass so your opponents can take their turn. The whole combat is extremely strategic as you will always know exactly what your opponent is going to do. He could just attack you, debuff you or buff himself, increase his own defense or trigger one of the dozens if not hundreds of different special effects. Each opponent is different and has his own actions. Learning what monster is able to do what is an integral part of learning the game. Especially on the higher difficulties, being able to anticipate what the opponents will be doing and planning accordingly is key to victory. If you take out the wrong monster first or take too long for the last one, you are bound to die eventually.
Your cards work a lot like what monsters are doing, so they will either help to deal damage to your opponents, absorb damage from their attacks, or provide some form of other special effect. Cards can also be upgraded or removed entirely from your deck and making good use of these options is the other part that will decide your fate. If you have too many block cards, you will be overrun by monsters that are slowly growing stronger each turn. If you don't have enough, you'll take some damage every fight until you'll die somewhere in the spire.
Slay the Spire is one of these games that is easy to pick up but unbelievably hard to master. The game in incredibly deep and at the higher difficulties it becomes really hard to beat the game reliably. That's not to say that it's unfair, though. There are few games that you will only loose due to bad luck. More often than not, it more comes down to you making bad decisions than anything else. Choosing the wrong path, taking too much of a risk, there are many things that can doom your run. Obviously, these kind of hard modes are not appealing to everybody. But even at the normal difficulty, the game has a lot to offer and thanks to the many different options available, it provides a huge replayability. On top of that, there's a huge amount of custom mods available in the game's workshop over on Steam adding more cards, more classes, or even completely new areas for the spire to the game.
To tell the truth, it's quite easy to forget time when you play Slay the Spire. A single run will take you somewhere between 20 and 60 minutes, mostly depending on how quick you play and how much time you take to make decisions. I for one forgot time more often than I could remember and it shows. I have a whopping 330 hours played and I still enjoy playing the game every now and then. It has more than 77,000 votes on Steam and 97% of these are positive - a crazy rating for that amount of votes. There's basically nothing bad for me to say about the game. It's simply perfect at what it is and while many games have since tried to copy it's brilliance, only few came even close to being as good as Slay the Spire! The game is currently sold at 20.99€, so something like 25$, but it should be on sale often. Even at full price, though, it's more entertainment per buck than you will get out of almost any other game. If you really haven't played it yet, go get it, it's brilliant!
And that's all from me for today, thank you all for reading and see you next time!