Slay the Spire – a review

Slay the Spire is a critically acclaimed rogue-like card game. I think that’s what I’d call it. You draw cards and use them to kill your opponents, thus climbing hour on the three act long ladder. The more you play, the more cards you unlock, and other things too, making progress easier, but also more varied.

I’ll say this right away: This is a brilliant game, and you will either love it or hate it.

Let’s get chopping!

The mechanics are threefold. First, there are the cards. Now, this isn’t Magic the Gathering, you don’t build your deck as such, but you sort of do, too. You start out with a few cards, and then, after every won fight, you’ll have the option to add another card to your deck. Usually, that’s something you want to do, but not always because the more cards, there are, the longer it’ll be until you draw the ones you’ve ended up building your strategy on. Those starter cards aren’t so great later in the game either, so you might want to attempt to get rid of those, or upgrade them.

Yep, you can upgrade cards, most of them just once. You do that at rest sites, or when you get lucky.

Right, rest sites. I think we need to take a look at how the ladders look.

Pick to

You choose your starting point, and go from there. There are plenty of fights along the way, elites, and then each act ends with a big boss fight. The campfires are rest sites, where you either replenish some health, or upgrade a card. You can unlock, and lock, other things as well, but that’s something for you to experience yourself.

Oh, and the question marks, those can be many things. Every so often you get a chance to steal a golden idol, but you’ll have to take a hit, pick up a curse, or something. The golden idol is a treasure (there are plenty of those to unlock and collect), and it’ll give you something that’s generally positive. The curse is a card that gets added to your deck, and it’ll mess with things.

Confused yet? Don’t worry, the game eases you into it, and kills you plenty of times along the way.

So, cards are one part of the mechanic, treasures is another. These treasures can be won from elites or bosses, found in chests, or through things that happen in the question mark rooms along the way. You can also buy them from the merchant, who also sells (and removes) cards, and potions.

Potions is the third, err, leg of the mechanic. They can do damage, give you bonuses or debuff your enemies, and so forth. Again, I’ll let you find out for yourself because potions are really fun to play with.

Slay the Spire is hard. You’ll die a lot, and you’ll die even more when you move on from the first character, to the other ones. They all have their kind of mechanic and cards, so the gameplay gets varied quickly. There are four characters to unlock, in total, but the enemies you’ll meet with them are largely (but not completely) the same.

I love this game. It’s quirky and harsh, looks good and plays great on an iPad of any size. I’ve played so many hours these past few weeks, it’s ridiculous. My only gripe with it is that it doesn’t support iCloud saves, which is annoying since I don’t always want to play it on my iPad mini. I doubt they’ll fix that, Slay the Spire’s been available for quite some time, so I’ll just have to remember to do iCloud backups and restores from my iPad mini from now on.

It’s a small price to pay for this masterpiece.

🗡🗡🗡🗡🗡 out of 5 — Excellent!

Slay the Spire costs $10, with no in-app purchases.

You’ll get this…
…a lot…