I’m raking up the hour played on Slay the spire and still having fun.

The fact that this is an old game and it’s being copied all over the place (so many clones on steam and on mobile), but only a few managed to be good has Slay the spire. 

I’m trying to get my head around what makes it so addictive, is it the deck building ? the rogue-like feature ? the careful tuned balance ? the fact that you know what the enemy will do? All of the above ?

Here what I think made Slay the spire so special (for me anyway)

Generated maps with a clear objective, that you can plan the path and tell you the boss at the end. 

Rarely do you already know what is coming at you in a RPG or a game unless you already played it. That is why I think showing the whole path and the boss at the end of the map gives you time to prepare for what is coming. Oh it’s the Hexaghost, better have some block for turn two, it’s the Slime boss, I need an area of effect to take out the slime when he splits.

You know everything the enemy will do and plan accordingly

Knowing what is going to happen gives you a sense of control. Initially the only way to know what the enemies were doing was through a relic, but the beta tester liked it so much that they decided it to be a core feature.

There is no hidden information in fight. Everything can be understood by hovering over it and your deck can be accessed at all times, what you’ve played, what you haven’t and what was removed from your deck.

If you want to ‘abuse’ the randomness since the game lets you restart the fight from the beginning with the same rng. You will draw the same card, the enemy will do the same attack and you can plan differently if you’ve made a mistake.

Characters have multiple way of scaling

Each character is an archetype of the basics of the game, ironclad attacks and strength, silent skill and agility, defect power and energy and watcher is about dancing. However, even then there are many ways to build a deck depending on your card and relic and that make each run fun and unique. You can win a run with Ironclad going with a way to scale strength with demon form (gain 2 or 3 strength per turn) or a combo of Rupture (gain 1(2) strength when you lose hp from a card) with Brutality (lose 1 hp draw a card at the start of your turn) or combust (lose 1 hp deal 5 (7) damage to all enemies at the end of your turn). Maybe you prefer to abuse the exhaust mechanic with Corruption and Dark Embrace (draw 1(2) cards) and Feel No Pain (gain 3(4) blocks when a card exhausts), or focus on blocking with Barricades, Entrench and body slam.

Closing though

The game is hard and harsh if you make the wrong decision. You can pick up a card thinking it will be good, but somehow it’s a screw you draw in a crucial fight and then you’re dead.

I originally wrote this in 2020 when I bought the game during covid and I’m still playing (now on my phone). The roguelike aspect, with the deck building, knowing what the enemies combine with the fact the game is well polished and feel very balance is what really got me into it.