Slay the Spire is a rogue-like+RPG+card battle game that comes to us by Mega Crit Games. It has been released on console and PC, but this review is that from the PC version. It is a very interesting design when you play it for the first time as you know it is a rogue-like game and want to do the best you can on the first run; spoilers, you will die probably before you get to the end of Act I.
You start off by selecting one of the three characters available, as of this review the fourth character is in Beta testing, and each character is unlocked by completing the game with the previous character. Every character has their own strengths and weaknesses as well as special abilities and cards they will utilize. Be prepared to get crushed for information when you go for it the first time, but worry not, if you play card games like Pokemon/MtG/etc you will get through it!
Once you decide who you want to play as you will have 3 choices to make on the style of play. The third option is more for things that would make it more fun for you, but going in here can remove Achievements collected. Consider it a "practice in murder" mode.
When you start a fresh game you are given a choice of beginning modifiers, so select the one that will aid you the most. Each character has different options and as you progress, some options may change. Just know that cards are unique to each character, so if you had that "killer card" you liked on another character, chances are, this one won't have it! Also know that some characters and cards from Mods will not be used for the standard set and those that are will disable achievements. If you are using Mods, you will know when that happens as you have to "activate" them.
As you progress through the Stages and Acts, you will use the cards that are dealt each round to defeat the enemy. Once your turn is over, the cards are put in the Discard pile and you gain X when your turn is started. Some effects may have you draw more or less as you progress through the game.
There are also Curses that will add "dead cards" to the deck, which can be detrimental when you reach a boss from the Act as they take up a slot in your deck. Some Bosses and Trash Mobs can also create issues in your deck that will prevent you from further using a card or even put it into a spot where the card is no longer drawn. Watch the effects of the enemy buffs and select your cards accordingly against them, but some bosses like the Slime will reek havoc against you no matter what. If you have a small deck, you will probably not win against them due to the cards having no value for you.
There are ways to get rid of those Curse cards, the Merchant is a good way to do so as you are allowed to pay to remove a card from your deck. There are also random ? spaces on your board that offer the chance to remove a card or Curse as well. Keep an eye out for these opportunities, especially if you have multiple Curse cards and that Act's boss is getting closer!
Progressing through the game takes you through 3 Acts that are different every time, so the variety is there for you. As you traverse the map that you have semi-control over, you get to rest areas to regain HP or upgrade cards, a Merchant who has some delicious upgrades and card removals, trash mobs, mini bosses, treasure chests, ? items, and the final boss of an Act. If you die, you start all over, but you will gain XP which allows you to unlock more stuff for a specific character.
There are plenty of things to do, and some items will give you the ability to hop to a level of your choice on a "level line" on a path. It will make sense when you get this item. Bosses have their own unique treasure chest which is guaranteed loot and you will also have the chance to pick 1 of 3 relics. Ah yes relics. These are super buffs that are constantly on your character the entire time you are on your playthrough, meaning they are reset when you start over. Some are really cool such as, getting 3 cards when you are hit on the enemy's turn or even gaining HP every round! There are so many and you will never end up with the same ones every time!
So I died, what next? Did I beat the game? Can you beat the game?
There are two ways to finish your playthrough. One is the easiest... you die! You run out of HP and it is game over. You will then be shown how well you did, gain XP, and then fill up your Unlocks Bar. Then start all over again. The other is you make it through all the Acts and fight the final boss. I will not speak about the boss itself as there is some spoilers, but you will eventually find yourself at the Victory? screen. Once again you will receive XP for progress and boss completion and then.... you start all over? That's right! But you can choose the "New Game+" (Ascension on character select screen) for that character or unlock another character.
Finally, it was mentioned that there is Mod support. Yes. There is Steam Workshop access. This may seem to be a pain to setup as you have to install 2 or 3 different modules before you can get the one you really wanted, and you can only launch the game from Steam itself to get it to launch the Mod program (meaning you cannot Right Click the Steam icon on your Tray and launch StS). Trust me though... some of those Mods are worth it!
I recommend this game 100%. It has a good price point, and I have been playing for hours on end, especially with the Mod I have shown you below ;)
The controls are fairly simple to use and you have multiple options like keyboard, mouse, and controller.
It is very stylized and comes off looking very bland at times, but some mods can give an extreme facelift.
Nothing amazing here, but it is better than your typical game. Mods always seem to add flair to the game as well.
This is a rogue-like game. You will play, you will die, you will start again.
PROS / CONS
- Multiple characters (a 4th is in test)
- Mod support
- Developer interaction with players
- Some games can be super fast
- A few achievements are a PITA
- A lot of animations look like cheap Flash
- Mod support not built in by default