Slay The Spire

Sometimes a fresh new idea doesn’t require the invention of something genuinely new, but just the composition of existing disparate concepts. (In fact, I’d wager that’s more common than not.) Slay the Spire, the debut title from Mega Crit Games, is a perfect example. Take a deck-building mechanic (very popular right now in titles like Hearthstone), add a rogue-like randomly generated map to explore (also very hot right now), and build that on top of a very simple turn-based combat game and you’ve got something that feels both familiar and yet like a new experience.

Play involves choosing a starting character, with a small deck of cards split between cards that deal or block damage, apply debuffs to enemies, or add abilities. Dungeon encounters may involve turn based combat, or gambling some gold for a “relic” that adds or modifies a system in the game, or discovering a curse or reward. After the first map is explored, and its boss defeated, it’s likely that your character will feel almost unique, with an expanded deck of cards that focuses on slowly building poison damage on an enemy while blocking their attacks, or snowballing your strength until you can knock enemies aside with ease, or abilities to fill your hand with cards and overwhelm enemies with numbers. Play through the next two maps and you’re game will be changed even further - though, more likely, you’ll encounter an enemy that your particular strategy isn’t so effective against, you’ll be defeated, and will start over to explore other tactics.

The experience is simple yet offers depth, challenging while fair, tactical but chaotic. Minor balance issues seem to be tweaked with regular patches, and for a game in early access it’s impressive just how complete it feels.