Slay the Spire has left Early Access and it’s still one of the best games I’ve played in years

Beat up a staircase or die trying

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Early Access is always a gamble. It seems that even if a game gets traction before it goes to full retail, by the time version 1.0 goes live, much of the momentum around the community has faded into memory. It happened with PUBG, We Happy Few, and many others that I appropriately can’t remember. Slay the Spire just came out of Early Access and it’s far too good of a game to let fall by the wayside.

Six months ago, I wrote an Early Access review for the roguelike deck builder. While the core gameplay hasn’t changed much, a few tweaks and additions have been made to Slay the Spire in the time since.

Slay the Spire remains to be what would happen if a Magic: The Gathering draft event had a love child with a roguelike dungeon crawler. You play as one of three characters, each with their own abilities and available cards, that must ascend the spire and slay it. Like in MtG, you have a deck of cards that each come with a cost to play them. Each of the cards can be broken down into an attack, a defensive stance, or a status inducer. Unlike MtG though, when you run out of cards in your draw deck, your discard is shuffled back into your draw deck and you continue to fight.

Also unlike many other deck-building games, you can see exactly what your opponents will be doing this turn, allowing you to plan what tactics you want to take, whether it be an all-out offensive to try and take them out or buckling down and attempting to mitigate the most damage possible. There’s just the right amount of strategy and luck involved where it keeps you on your toes.

From the start of Slay the Spire, you are given a choice as to which path you would like to take, and much like being able to see your opponent’s attacks, you can see the path that lies before you. It’s got that FTL galaxy map feel while being a bit more structured so you can adjust depending on what you think you’ll need. Each spire run consists of three floors, with a boss waiting at the end of each one. Like every other roguelike on the market, you’re at the mercy of RNGesus when it comes to which boss you will face. Let me tell you, there are some doozies in there.

As you progress through the spire you’re given the option to gather cards for your deck. You’d think that you would want to build the biggest deck possible, but because your discard is shuffled back into your draw, there’s beauty in brevity if you’ve got a good strategy going. You also gain items and modifiers that mostly help out, but some items you receive from bosses can be a bit of a double-edged sword. As far as unlocks go, every spire run nets you points for the character you used, and those points are converted to level unlocks where different cards and items are thrown into the randomly available pile.

So what has changed in the six months since I did my Early Access review of Slay the Spire? Well, custom runs were added in case you wanted to get back at the spire by stacking the deck against them for a past whooping it laid on you. Seeded runs are also possible if you wanted to challenge your friends to a run outside of the daily challenges. Steam Workshop mod support was also added so you can ascend the spire as Yuri from Doki Doki Literature Club if the spirit wills you. A feature I haven’t used yet (because my Twitch streams tend to average in the two-person range) is Twitch voting, which allows your viewers to vote on which actions you might take in the game.

The price did increase from $15.99 to $24.99 for the full release, but with how many hours I’ve already gotten out of Slay the Spire, that’s a small price to pay for so much fun. Now we just wait for the Nintendo Switch version to happen and watch as all of the world’s productivity drops to zero.

About The Author
Anthony Marzano
Contributor for Dtoid and news editor of Flixist. Lover of all things strategic and independent.
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