Slay The Spire Review –

A Tower of Enemies, Treasures, and Solutions has just been released 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 mechanics with original gameplay and a risk-reward system that is 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 lots of randomly generated objects. While it may seem intimidating in one sense, I found the game to be much more accessible and agile than I had imagined, and I quickly watched the hours go by in Speyer. The game has many interconnected systems where the strategies are decided on the fly, making every game session exciting.

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

When you select your character, you’ll see the first floor of the tower appear, which is actually made up of several branches that connect to the top. You can choose your own route to climb and each point is 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 consumables and new cards or remove unwanted cards from your deck), and rest points 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 walk completely unique.

The heart of the game experience comes alive as you engage in monster combat, as well as how you build your bridge, determine your battle strategy, and plan your future moves in Spires. You face the enemies one by one, but unlike many games like this, you know exactly what the enemy is going to do to you from the start before it’s your turn. If the attack is going 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 found it a bit strange that there is no RNG (Random Number Generation) here, like in the XCOM game for example. However, it didn’t take long for me to realize that it would be useful to develop a strategy for using the cards I was given.

Which brings me to the bridge aspect 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 enter a battle, the cards fall down into the screen. The order and number of cards you play is entirely up to you, but the characters are limited in the number of actions they can do 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 as you move around during the race.

It’s a place where the patio building experience evolves quickly and allows for truly dynamic and engaging play. Successful withdrawals from many types of games will reward you, usually with the ability 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 important decisions you have to make when you cross the bell tower. Do you choose easier routes with fewer rewards and less powerful cards, or do you choose harder routes and risk defeat to gain more devastating and powerful cards?

The cards you collect have several possibilities. From direct attack and defense 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 map skills can do. There’s definitely a ton of strategy here, but with each character’s abilities and 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 former are supplied as consumables. Players can hold a total of three consumables at a time, and many of them can be found throughout the Spiral. These consumables are disposable, but can be earned or purchased on the card in the markets.

Relics, on the other hand, provide powerful permanent abilities that can affect many aspects of the game. Relics are divided into several groups. The starting relics are your character’s most important ability. You can buy both normal relics, which are weak, and rare relics, which are slightly stronger. Rare relics, which are much harder to obtain, can be really useful and are usually rewarded after successfully completing the mini-batons. Boss relics, on the other hand, are among the best, but they are usually won by defeating the ground boss Spire. Memories of events are collected by making certain choices in the style of your chosen adventure microquest, which are often linked to ? points on the map. Store 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, what’s incredibly wild is that players can collect relics. There is no management of these people, and they are just permanently tied up while you are on the run. I remember having 8 or 9 relics just before I died, each of which gave a unique and transformative ability to the structure of the game. Again, it should be noted that, 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 bought or received as a gift. The choices, like this game, are completely dynamic and open.

The combination of all these elements: The cards, deck building, consumables, and relic collecting create one of the most complete types of games I’ve ever played, mainly because it’s a deck building game, rather than the most common crawler dungeon. It is also very versatile as it is accessible to many types of players. If you’re the kind of person who wants to carefully consider 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. On the other end of the spectrum, and where I ended up in a few races, I went with the flow and took whatever relics were offered to me, and decided to always take a new card, broaden my game, and play the cards as they came, as best as I thought I could. I found it a totally relaxing and inexpensive way to play some of the games and see how things went. Sometimes I managed to go further than before, while other attempts to run at ground level ended in disaster.

If you play the game as a cheat, death is usually permanent, and your race ends up destroying everything you’ve collected in the meantime. But a few good carrots will keep the meta progression healthy and alive. First, 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 unlock additional collections from the entire 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 that can be accessed here on demand.

If the standard game mode bores you, you can also participate in the Daily Advance. This is a particular set of modifiers, and your character is 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 rankings on that day.

Finally, there is also a custom mode where you select all the runtime parameters. This mode is incredibly interesting because it features dozens of game rule modifiers that can be turned on and off, all with varying 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) as you have to build a deck from a number of cards, to completely crazy rules like the Definite Future rule where players only have one path on a card. For every line 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 mechanics and game modes under the hood, Slay The Spire holds its own pretty well on the platform. Since the graphics aren’t too intense and there certainly isn’t a lot of action on the screen at once, performance never seemed to be an issue in portable mode, where I spent about 50% of my time playing. Touch screen is supported here, but it was honestly a mixed bag for me. I found that many of the user interface elements were very small, as I would have expected on a computer, so the touch points were duller than I would have liked, but that doesn’t change the game. 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 keep feeling, even after you’ve already conquered Speyer, is truly unparalleled. Each race can be adapted to something refreshing and can be as challenging – or less challenging – as you like. Add to that the huge amount of strategy this game offers by immersing you in all its interlocking mechanics, and you have a winner. Playing Spires is rewarding and entertaining every time, even when I die, and it’s one of my favorite games on the Swap.

Perform Steeplechase Check
  • Charts – 8/10
  • Sound – 9/10
  • Gameplay – 9.5/10
  • Last call – 10/10


Final thoughts : EXAMPLES

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

Alex has been in the game industry since the release of Nintendo. He’s turned his hobby into a career, spending just over a decade developing games and now serving as creative director of the studio.


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