A tower of enemies, treasures and solutions has arrived on the Nintendo Switch. Highly regarded on the PC, Slay the Spire challenges you as an adventurer to conquer this tower by combining the deck’s construction mechanisms with original gameplay and a risk-reward system at the cutting edge of the genre. Will the bell tower of this platform have the same solid foundation as its predecessors? The short answer is a resounding yes. But read on to find out why!

Slay the Spire is a fast-paced game with turn-based battles, building bridges and maps, a path selection system and many randomly generated objects. Although it may seem intimidating in one sense, I found the game much more accessible and agile than I had imagined, and I soon saw the hours pass in Speyer. The game has many interconnected systems where strategies are determined on the fly, which makes every game session exciting.

Slay The Spire Review –

When you choose your first race, you take the role of Ironclad, the default character available at the start. He’s a traditional warrior who has the ability to heal a little after a round of combat. As you progress through the game, you’ll unlock two more playable characters: The Silencer, who is more of a criminal and has the ability to draw two extra cards, and the Defective, a robot magician who uses a magic system to cast spells into battle. Each of the three characters has its own set of action cards, as well as skills and others that can be unlocked by the XP system. Although I played with all three classes, I found Defect much more fun, but also much more difficult to strategize and manage the cards I got. Iron cladding certainly felt the most introductory, but far from easy, access to the top of the tower.

When you select your character, you’ll see the first floor of the tower appear, which actually consists of several branches connecting to the top. You can choose your own route up and each point will be marked with an icon indicating what you will encounter. There are normal monster rooms, minibus rooms with more difficult enemies, treasure rooms, hawker rooms (where you can buy supplies and new cards or remove unwanted cards from your deck), and rest areas where you can replenish your health, upgrade your cards or perform additional tasks. The boom itself has three levels and is certainly not easy to handle. With each new run, the paths and encounters on the floor are randomized, making each run and each walk completely unique.

Slay The Spire Review –

The heart of the gaming experience comes to life when you engage in a monster battle, as well as how you build your bridge, determine your battle strategy and plan your future moves in Spires. You face your enemies one by one, but unlike many games like this, you know from the start exactly what your enemy is going to do to you before it’s his turn. If the attack goes in your direction, you will see a red sword icon and the exact amount of damage you will do. The same goes for buffs or debuffs. At first, I thought it was a little strange that there is no RNG (Random Number Generation) here, like there is in the XCOM game. However, it wasn’t long before I realised that it was useful to develop a strategy for using the cards I was given.

Which brings me to the brugaspect of Kill the Spires. As you may have guessed, our fight always takes place with a card from your deck. Each of the three characters has a starting game adapted to their abilities. When you engage in a fight, the cards fall down into the screen. The order and number of cards you play depends entirely on you, but the characters are limited in the number of actions they can perform per turn, which corresponds to the value of the cards. At the beginning of the game you have three action points per turn, and many beginner cards are worth one card each, so you can play three cards. These values change a lot if you move during the race.

Slay The Spire Review –

It is a place where the experience of a patio building evolves rapidly and allows for a truly dynamic and fascinating game. Successful withdrawals from many types of games will reward you, usually with the opportunity to choose a new card for your game if you wish. The further you go through the tower and the stronger the enemies you defeat, the better your rewards and the stronger the cards you get in this race. This will be one of the most crucial decisions you have to make during a match. Choose easier routes with fewer rewards and less powerful cards, or choose harder routes and risk defeat to win more devastating and powerful cards?

The cards you collect have several possibilities. From direct attack and defence maps to complex multi-level capability maps. Just like in real games like Magic the Gathering, the advanced cards you learn can be stacked or used in a certain order during a battle to take full advantage of your advanced skills. As I’ve said before, and I’ll say it again, I’ve never really felt overwhelmed by what basic card skills can do. There’s certainly a ton of strategy here, but with the skills of each character and the deck structures on board, it’s pretty easy.

While building dynamic terraces is certainly an important element of Slay the Spire, two other features support the ever-changing gameplay and create even more opportunities for strategy development. The first are supplied as consumables. Players can hold a total of three consumables at the same time, and many of these can be found throughout the Spiral. These consumables are disposable, but can be earned or purchased on the card in the markets.

Slay The Spire Review –

Relics, on the other hand, offer powerful permanent skills that can affect many aspects of the game. Relics are divided into different groups. The incipient relics are your character’s most important asset. You can buy both normal relics, which are weak, and rare relics, which are slightly stronger. Rare relics, which are much more difficult to obtain, can be really useful and are usually rewarded after successfully completing the mini-batons. The relics of the boss, on the other hand, are among the best, but they are usually won by defeating the landlord Spire. Memories of events are collected by making certain choices in the style of your chosen adventure microquest, often linked to ? points on the map. Shopping accessories are accessories that can be purchased by entering the markets on the map.

Well, if it’s not a dizzying amount of information about relics, which is incredibly wild, is that players can collect relics. There’s no management of these people, and they’re just permanently tied up while you’re on the run. I remember having 8 or 9 relics just before I died, each of which gave a unique and transforming power to the structure of the game. Again, it should be noted that, just like the cards, everything you can buy always depends on your decision to take them or not. Depending on your mileage, you may choose not to keep a family heirloom that you have purchased or received as a gift. The choices, like this game, are completely dynamic and open.

Slay The Spire Review –

The combination of all these elements: The cards, building the card games, consumables and collecting relics create one of the most complete types of games I have ever played, mainly because it is a game for building the card games, rather than the most common crawler cemetery. It is also very versatile because it is accessible to many types of players. If you’re the kind of person who wants to think carefully about the map they’re going to keep and play, and the relics that exactly match their character’s abilities to maximize their racing efficiency, you can certainly do that. At the other end of the spectrum, and where I ended up in a few races, I went with the flow and took all the relics that were offered to me, and decided to always take a new card, broaden my game, and play the cards as they came, as well as I thought I could. I thought it was a totally relaxed and cheap way to play some of the games and see how it went. Sometimes I managed to go further than before, while other attempts to run on the ground floor ended in disaster.

If you play the game like an impostor, death is usually permanent, and your race ends by destroying everything you’ve collected in the meantime. But a few good carrots keep the meta-progression healthy and lively. First of all, each of your characters will receive XP based on your performance during the race. The XP you earn will unlock items/cards for each of the three characters as you play them. You’ll also be able to access additional collections from across the map library, which contains hundreds of common maps you can use, as well as dozens of relics. If you’re a fan of stats, there’s a whole menu where you can see your character’s stats, as well as the rewards you’ve received for them. Leaders allow you to measure yourself against your friends or the world, and an extensive race history menu contains many details of your recent races. I was particularly impressed by the amount of information available here on request.

If the default game mode bores you, you can also participate in the Daily Advance. This is a certain set of modifiers, and your character has been chosen for you. It’s especially fun if you want a new gaming experience every day. Depending on your results, you will also appear in the ranking on that day.

Slay The Spire Review –

Finally, there is also a custom mode in which you select all the runtime parameters. This mode is incredibly interesting because it has dozens of game control modifiers that can be turned on and off, all with different levels of difficulty, allowing you to create a phenomenally wild and unique race. From something seemingly as simple as activating the Sealed Draft, which will again be very familiar to fans of CCG (Collectible Card Games) because you have to build a deck of cards, to completely crazy rules like the Definite Future rule where players only have one path on a card. For each rule setting you make, a game seed is produced so you can share it with your friends or keep it for yourself if you like.

With so many solid mechanisms and game modes under the bonnet, Slay The Spire holds up pretty well on the platform. Since the graphics are not too intense and there is certainly not much action on screen at the same time, performance never seemed to be a problem in portable mode, where I spend about 50% of my time playing. Touch screen is supported here, but frankly it was a mixed bag for me. I thought many of the user interface elements were very small, just as I expected them to be on the computer, so the touch points were more annoying than I would have liked, but not brittle. Joey-cons are probably the best way to play.

Spire has become one of my new must-have games for the Nintendo Switch. It’s a game that will be in my system forever. The momentum you feel over and over again, even after you have already conquered Speyer, is truly unrivalled. Each race can be adapted to something refreshing and can be as challenging – or less challenging – as you like. Add to that the enormous amount of strategy this game offers by immersing yourself in all its interlocking mechanics, and you have a winner. Playing Spires is always rewarding and entertaining, even when I die, and it’s one of my favorite games on the Swap.

Steeplechase Check

  • Graphs – 8/10
  • Sound – 9/10
  • Gameplay – 9.5/10
  • Last call – 10/10

9.5/10

Final thoughts: EXAMPLES

Slay the Spire combines bridge construction and turn-based combat in a new way. The satisfying gameplay, with so much player-driven action, makes every race in Spire completely engrossing, even if you get killed. It’s the kind of game that will remain on my Switch for years to come.

Slay The Spire Review –

Alex has been in the gaming industry since Nintendo’s release. He has turned his hobby into a career, has been developing games for just over ten years and is now creative director of the studio.

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