Slay the Spire is an endlessly addictive roguelike card-battler is a beautifully balanced game that’s arrived on Playstation Now. Its combination of ferocious battles, entertaining chance encounters, and selection of four impressively different player characters make every run to the top a nerve-wracking and totally absorbing affair.
Slay the Spire’s a remarkably straightforward card battler at first glance. The core gameplay involves making progress in story-based, procedurally-generated dungeons that take on themes from classic fantasy novels. You’ll have to draw and equip four character cards that you can use to aid you in the dungeon. However, it’s when you delve into the more tactical elements of the game that things get interesting. While a good deal of your deck-building comes down to timing attacks and the use of abilities to bypass your opponent’s defences, you’ll also be picking and crafting secondary resources called Powerstones that can offer unique buffs. Alternatively, you can just gather the rarer items found in the dungeons to make your equipment more powerful.
Slay The Spire is essentially a roguelike deck-building game. Each turn, players draw cards from their decks which then determine their character's skills, abilities, and weaknesses. Player characters use these abilities to face down foes and move across the map. All of this, however, is much more complex than that: in addition to any abilities a character starts with, a character can also perform whatever tricks their opponent triggers. For example, a character with a vampire skill that allows it to transform into a vampire will have the opportunity to transform into a vampire as soon as they have an opponent in the crosshairs.
Slay the Spire is classically a deck-building, card-battler. It's heavily inspired by Netrunner and its emphasis on deck-building and specific character cards sets it apart from a lot of card games out there. Card games have an obvious place in strategy games, but in this genre, they've tended to stick to Hearthstone's restrictive Heroes. Slay the Spire takes things into its own hands. Let's start with the deck-building. Each of the four hero characters – Crow, Pine, Mag, and Reaper – has a deck-building aspect to it. For example, you may spend more powerful cards for a powerful character and then look for opportunities to buff or improve the creatures or abilities they possess.
There are four unique characters you’ll get to play as in Slay The Spire, each with their own interesting and evocative names: Sir Golem, the Talented Carpenter; Three Ways, the Golden Man; Sir Candide, the Copious Gentleman; and the most unlikely and yet totally awesome of them all, Ephraim the most daunting Custodian. Each of these characters play on the same basic formula that every other character does in Slay the Spire. They have a main stat of “Stamina” that keeps them alive for the majority of the battle, as well as some spells or tools that they can use to counter their enemy’s cards and improve their stats to the max.
Slay the Spire is a short yet extraordinarily intense game, demanding careful decisions, fast reflexes, and a reasonable amount of thinking time if you want to achieve the top. It’s a little shallow when it comes to its crafting and progression mechanics, but that also means that the rewards for persevering are always going to be worth it. The whole game is enjoyable as a whole, but the concluding sequence of three quick missions is especially good, and is exactly the kind of moment that keeps players coming back to it again and again.