Review | 2022.06.05

Risk of Rain plus Dominion equals Slay the Spire

Slay the Spire was one of the PS+ games a month or two ago. I'd heard good things, so I gave it a whirl. Here's a pictoral commentary:

Slay the Spire combat card selection Masterful Stab The Silent
Core gameplay is combat executed through cards - attack, defense, persistents, etc.

Slay the Spire character select The Silent
You start by choosing one of four characters with distinct card sets. There are shared (colorless) cards and there is an item that lets you pull cards from other sets.

Slay the Spire tower map
A 'run' consists of a series of combats, merchant interactions, rest/recovers, and events (normally a brief dialogue with a reward/punishment). You choose your path from the first floor to the final boss (or early demise).

Slay the Spire conversation Augmenter JAX JAXXED
The combats (monster symbols) and merchants (money symbols) are pretty self explanatory. Here's an event (question symbol).

Slay the Spire The Silent statue head Dodge and Roll
Some battles are easy, some are tough. If you lose, your run is over. The enemies are all fairly unique (visually and tactically), it's not just the player that uses the numerous game mechanics.

Slay the Spire loot Torii relic
Each time you defeat an enemy/mob, you get loot, including gold (for the merchant), consumables, and relics with persistent effects.

Slay the Spire post-combat card select
You also get to choose a new card to add to your deck, if you want. Like most (all?) deckbuilders, the key is to have a deck with synergy.

Slay the Spire donut enemy The Defect
The spire has three sections, each with a boss (one of a handful of possibles).

Slay the Spire relic selection Runic Pyramid
Defeating the boss refreshes your hp and gives you a choice of relics. I didn't use Runic Pyramid until my final run and, honestly, it feels like a completely different game with it. Other than very particular builds, Runic Pyramid seems mandatory.

Slay the Spire heart conversation
After defeating the boss of the third section, you run into a heart that puts you to sleep.

Slay the Spire three key symbol
It becomes obvious that something different happens when you reach the heart with each of the three starter characters (I guess the fourth was an add-on).

I loved the game, but won't be one of those die-hards playing at max endgame difficulty. There's a huge amount of gameplay variety with the card and relic combinations, but each have enough scarcity that no two runs are the same.

If anything, I think the game could have added replayability by adding more endgame objectives or motivations to use non-minmaxed builds.

Slay the Spire combat block Slay the Spire combat blobs Slay the Spire The Watcher combat knight Slay the Spire Apotheosis Ironclad
Corrupt heart (spoilers)

Slay the Spire the Silent heart battle Caltrops

Reaching the heart with Defect was no easy task for me, so when I finally unlocked the heart battle I went with the Silent. I almost, almost beat the heart on my first try with a Shiv build (and nothing super fortuitous like a fairy in a bottle). I blame NyQuil for the failure.

Slay the Spire the Silent poison deck
The poison deck that took me all the way. I managed to thin out all my strikes and some of my blocks.

The other viable build is poison, and it's the one I used to finally escape the spire. With Burst (2x next card) on Catalyst+ (3x enemy poison), it doesn't take much to do max per-turn damage to the big baddie. And the beauty of poison: it persists, so you just have to stay alive.

The challenges with this build were more from the mid-game. I could have easily perished long before reaching the final floor if it wasn't for the relics that gave 10 and 12 block on rounds 1 and 2. The medical kit was also super useful for ditching curse cards for free.

This was my first time trying Runic Pyramid (keep your unplayed hand rather than discard) which, as I mentioned, changes the game entirely. I pulled a lucky Bullet Time (play everything in your current hand for free) late in the run so I could go through my maxed out hand or just Calculated Gamble+ (redraw).

The heart still hits pretty hard, so it was necessary to bring multiple Piercing Wail (debuff enemy strength) and use them wisely.

Slay the Spire the Silent ending
Silent escaped, I'll call it there.

Slay the Spire ending teaser eyes

The game teases another boss. I may look that up, but I'm not sure I can put together a winning build with Defect.

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