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Let’s Play – Slay the Spire: An Indepth Review

In addition to our foray into Apple Arcade reviews, we are branching out and exploring several additional avenues of gaming content for your cerebral pleasure. The first is a series titled Let’s Play, where we look at a PC game that is either more along the lines of a sandbox game (build your own adventure type) or just fun games in general. From time to time, we will revisit older games, whether they may have gotten a new update or just to revisit titles that we hadn’t yet covered. We will end this article with a What Are We Playing blurb that will highlight our weekly gaming plans. So, sit back and enjoy our first Let’s Play adventure!

Let’s Play – Slay the Spire

Slay the Spire was released at the end of 2017 and is available on PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation, and Xbox consoles. It is a roguelike card game, where you start off a run with a specific adventurer and unlock cards along the way, empowering your adventurer in order to survive the pending gauntlet. Each run-up of the Spire is separate from another, and there is no carry-over between runs. You can, however, work towards unlocking cards for each class, with five separate tiers that vastly improve the initial starter deck. These are different cards from the base set and offer a variety of ways to improve your characters.

I have had my eyes on this for quite some time, and after writing the Steam Summer Sale preview article we added last week, I decided to put a dent in the wallet and nab some titles I had been watching. Slay the Spire forces you to think on your feet and adapt to the blitzkrieg punishing enemies searching to capitalize on each mistake. What impressed me the most was after every defeat, and yes, the defeats will mount, was my earnest fawning to return to the punishing Spire for more. There are three classes to start, and each come with their own specific decks, cards, abilities, and playstyles. The Ironclad focused on heals and shielding, The Silent focused on poisons and big attacks, and The Defect had orbs that performed varying abilities.

I have yet to unlock the final class and may offer a separate article later on that adventure, but from the three classes I have unlocked, they were unique and diverse and offered a multitude of playstyles. Thus far, the Slient, an assassin-type class, has many ways to combo extra cards or to build up increasingly stronger poisons on enemy targets. This ability to have multiple play styles within the class offers a unique perspective and doesn’t feel like we are stuck having to play one way. With a game focused heavily on immediate decisions and reactions based on randomly selected cards, it felt empowering to switch my entire playstyle based on what I had available and not to be punished for missing one specific card.

Fighting a cultist in Slay the Spire on PC.

The game starts out by giving you a handful of starter cards (Strike cards that damage the enemy, Defend cards to provide your character with some blocking, and a few class-specific cards). Play begins as your character starts with three energy, and the various cards have different amounts of energy necessary to play them. Your character begins the adventure with a predetermined amount of health (HP) and starting gold (this changes between the different classes), and you are presented with a few starting locations on a map. There is a conveniently placed Legend on the map, and part of your ultimate success or subsequent failure is based on this choice. The maps are randomized, and keen attention to detail is crucial. Question marks give us a variety of options and make some strategizing difficult, as some of them remove HP or offer Relics at a cost. It is important to take note of Elite enemies on the map, as they serve a much larger threat to your progress up the Spire.

I tended to stray towards the sides of the map and avoided the convoluted middle as much as I could. It wasn’t a better strategic choice; I just felt it was easier to ascertain the best choices. Play begins with a series of cards in your hand and some energy to play those cards with. As the player, you always take your turn first and are able to strategize before attacking. There is no timer, so feel free to make the most strategic choice you can, always with the long term in mind. During the battle, the enemies will have a variety of buffs and effects, and simply mousing over those gives all the requisite information you would need. There is even a sword icon over the enemies’ heads, letting you know what incoming damage you can expect. While battling, there are also potions (one-time use perks) and relics, which persist throughout your runs. Relics can greatly impact your play and should be prioritized.

One of the many random maps that spawn at the start of your run.

As with most choices and actions in Slay the Spire, there always seem to be both positive and negative consequences attached. Health is the premium currency in the game, and when its’ gone, your run is over. This is a strategic game, and when you sway from your plans, things often go awry. You must be fluid and adjust to the game as it develops. There is a blissful joy in combining enough plays in one hand in order to totally annihilate an enemy, and equally, as much seething rage when you misplay a card, ending your run. There are many advanced concepts in the game, best builds, and best choices for maps. I look forward to completing the third act and unlocking the final character. If you have yet to try to Slay the Spire, I wholeheartedly recommend it. I keep being drawn back to the punishing floors of the Spire and look forward to what else the game may offer.

What We Are Playing

Been playing a ton of Slay the Spire in between putting together Ikea furniture. I am exhausted, needless to say. I will be starting Griftlands shortly and may dabble in Final Fantasy XIV for an article for the website.