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If you have PlayStation Plus, you should play Slay the Spire.

Table of Contents
  1. It’s time for the ultimate deck-building roguelike

One of my favourite parts of my job is when I can gush about the games I enjoy and no one can stop me. Slay the Spire is one of them.

I’ve gone through phases where games completely consumed my life during the two-plus years we’ve been in quarantine. It started with Hades, and after nearly 400 hours of playtime, I decided to put it down. I had brief stints with Stardew Valley and Breath of the Wild, both of which were comfort games, so they don’t fully count. Slay the Spire, which happens to be one of April’s free PlayStation Plus games, was the next game that consumed my every waking hour, and I need everyone to know how freaking amazing it is.

Here’s a quick primer: Slay the Spire is a deckbuilding roguelike that is such a fun mix of genres that I wish there were more of them. The main premise is that there is this massive vertical spire that you must climb floor by floor to the top, encountering enemies, friends, and other surprises along the way.

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It’s similar to FTL: Faster than Light in that you can see a map of the entire area between encounters to plan your route. It’s also similar to FTL in that there are numerous random encounters that can either hurt or help you depending on what you get. As you progress, you gradually accumulate cards and, with luck, fill your deck with super-powerful combos.

  1. Gameplay specifics

You can play one of three classes: the Ironclad, a tanky fighter-type who uses blood magic in a high-risk, high-reward build, the Silent, who plays like a traditional rogue character with shivs and poison damage, and the Defect, who is a robot character who summons orbs with different abilities in combat (that last one is difficult to explain succinctly, but it’s one of the most creative combat mechanics I’ve seen in The Watcher, a monk-style character who enters stances of Calm and Wrath in extra high-risk, high-reward gameplay, is a fourth class that unlocks after you’ve played for a while. She can be entertaining, but it’s more difficult to progress with her because she can be difficult to play with.

But it’s the relics that really make Slay the Spire stand out for me. They’re random objects with powerful abilities that you can acquire, and they’re by far my favourite part of the game. Their abilities range from providing extra gold or healing to increasing your damage or assisting you in drawing more cards per turn. The more items you collect in a run, the more likely you are to become insanely overpowered, and those runs are insanely fun.

  1. You get out what you put in

It’s one of those games that gets more enjoyable as you play it more. Knowing the decks intimately gives you a significant advantage because you can create the ideal build from the start. You also gain new cards, relics, and potions as you progress, the majority of which are class-specific, which means that if you plan around them, they can break your build in the best way.

If you get tired of grinding in the main campaign, there’s also a daily challenge mode where you take a run with special modifiers and compete against other players online for the highest score. This was a really fun challenge for me, and it was a great way to mix things up after my regular runs became a little boring. While I enjoy playing in hours-long marathon sessions, you start over with each run, so it’s also ideal for playing in small chunks if that’s what you prefer.

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While Slay the Spire was originally released for the PC, I think it’s an excellent Switch game. Control schemes don’t always translate well when a game is ported, but I prefer the Switch controls. Furthermore, if you’re playing handheld, it works well on the touchscreen. It’s also a great option to play if, like me, you enjoy listening to podcasts while gaming.

  1. What are you waiting for? Just go play it

Despite having a fairly simple premise, I believe Slay the Spire does an excellent job of balancing each element to create a finely-tuned, incredibly well-designed game.

It has the least amount of content overall of any game I’ve obsessed over, but I’ve sunk 250 hours into it and I’m still not tired of it. The game has a cult following, but Slay the Spire deserves to be considered among the best indies simply for the quality of its gameplay design. I’m also hoping that we can persuade the developers to make a sequel, or at the very least some DLC, and the more people who jump on board, the better the chances of that happening.

If you have a PlayStation Plus subscription and are looking for a new game to play this month, Slay the Spire is a must-have. If you don’t, you should still buy this game because, in my opinion, it’s well worth the hype.

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