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When I first bought Slay the Spire in early 2018, it was a promising early access title by Mega Crit Games that was updated weekly. Now, it’s a full-fledged roguelite experience with countless hours of replayability. In a nutshell, it’s a deck-building game where you pick a character, each with unique mechanics and cards, and climb through floors full of deadly enemies to slay the heart of the spire.
As simple as Slay the Spire‘s premise is, the amount of content offered coupled with the randomization of almost every aspect of the game makes every run completely unique.
As of writing this, there are four different characters that each have their own quirks and playstyles. For example, the Ironclad has a very straightforward deck that mainly revolves around plain damage dealing and blocking, while the Defect makes use of magical orbs that have varying passive effects which are typically triggered at the end of your turn.
Throughout each run, not only will you find random cards after winning fights, you’ll also encounter an assortment of different relics that will either buff you or undermine your progress. These can be acquired by looting chests, purchasing them from merchants, or defeating elite enemies and bosses. Your relic choices can make or break a run, as their effects can be as simple as letting you draw an extra card at the start of your turn, or something as drastic as gaining a permanent energy point at the cost of never being able to heal at rest sites.
Random events can also offer you vast rewards, such as copious amounts of gold or special cards, or they may hinder you with curses, unavoidable damage, and difficult battles.
With all of these mechanics in place, the game makes sure that every single decision you make, no matter how big or small they may seem, has a huge impact on your entire playthrough. Should you have taken the leftmost path instead of going through the middle? Was that one relic really worth the curse?
If you thought that beating the third act is difficult, finishing the game with each character for the first time will unlock the fourth and final floor. There, you’ll face the heart of the eponymous spire. It’s an incredibly challenging fight, and if you’re not prepared (or if you get horrible RNG), it’ll take you out in just a couple of turns.
On top of that, winning for the first time will unlock Ascension Mode for the character you were using, which adds modifiers to make future runs much more challenging. Every time you win with the highest Ascension level available, you’ll unlock another modifier that will stack on top of the previous one.
The first few Ascension levels may seem easy, as they only increase elite spawns or make enemies slightly stronger, but trust me, the game gets very hard as you progress further. Your typical 30-40 minute victories will eventually turn into runs that last well over an hour, which may or may not end in a very anti-climactic defeat.
Mixing It Up
While Slay the Spire‘s roguelite nature adds a lot to its replayability, its daily challenges and custom game modes offer even more options to mix things up. The daily climb locks you to a certain character and adds unique, often ridiculous, modifiers that aren’t available in normal runs. As the name implies, this challenge changes every day, and the leaderboard allows you to compete with other players from around the world.
The custom game mode, on the other hand, gives you access to all Ascension levels and special modifiers to customize the game to your liking. With the click of a button, you can play through an endless climb that only ends with your death, with the game getting harder the longer you survive.
Slay the Spire has grown to become one of my favorite games of all time, and not just because it’s a roguelite (regular readers will know how much I love those). The developers pay close attention to player feedback, and new updates and hotfixes are still being rolled out long after its initial release.
I haven’t even touched on the modding scene, since I haven’t really explored it yet. If, for any reason, you ever find yourself getting bored of the base game, the Steam Workshop has tons of impressive mods that add new characters, decks, and even entire acts.
If you’re looking for a quick time killer or a simple, yet gripping single player experience, Slay the Spire has you covered on both ends. The game is available on several platforms, including the Nintendo Switch, and the devs are planning on a mobile release at some point in the future (as of writing this, the iOS and Android release has been delayed).