Over the last few years, PC/console players everywhere have been equal parts addicted to and frustrated by Slay the Spire. The roguelike deck-building card game, hailing from studios Mega Crit and Humble Games, sees you take control of a heroic character who embarks on a branching path up the spire, battling enemies, obtaining loot, and risking life and limb as you go. Every path is different, every choice you make can affect your fate in the very next step or 100 steps later, and every victory brings you one breath closer to, well, slaying said spire. But good luck doing so; you’re gonna need it!

While Slay the Spire has been entertaining and challenging players since 2017’s Early Access on PC, 2019’s release on consoles, and last summer’s debut on iOS, it’s now available on Android mobile devices as of this very day. That’s great for yours truly since I’m still rocking an ancient Galaxy S7 (I know, I know.) But I’m happy to say Slay the Spire runs great even on five-year-old hardware. That’s not so good for my productivity, however, because I’m going to be spending lots and lots of time attempting the climb. And the only reason I put it down at all was because my battery ran out I wanted to write this review.

Before we get into some specifics, be sure to watch the announcement trailer here if you’re  not familiar with Slay the Spire:

IGN’s best strategy game of 2019, nominated for nearly a dozen awards and over 73,000+ overwhelmingly positive Steam reviews…Slay the Spire is not just for PC Gamers anymore, it’s coming to mobile! Starting on February 3rd, Mega Crit Games proudly launches the highly sought-after game exclusively on Android.

If you’re new to the game or roguelikes in general, don’t worry, it’s easy to pick up. Essentially, you get one try to clear the spire and navigate the procedurally generated path that lays before you. Luck is a factor, but so is the strategy you employ and the choices you make along the way. Don’t worry if you don’t “win” though; every outing is a chance to earn points towards unlocking other characters, other pathways, and other opportunities to further explore the game. Then you start all over again; rinse and repeat, and apply what you’ve learned along the way. There are also daily challenges and custom options available if you find yourself in need of something beyond the basic “venturing out” gameplay.

Here are some of the highlights of Slay the Spire, courtesy of the press release, that you’ll quickly come to understand while playing:

  • Dynamic Deck Building: Discover hundreds of cards to add to your deck with each attempt at climbing the Spire. Select cards that work together to efficiently dispatch foes and reach the top.
  • An Ever-changing Spire: Whenever you embark on a journey up the Spire, the layout differs each time. Choose a risky or safe path, face different enemies, choose different cards, discover different relics, and even fight different bosses!
  • Powerful Relics to Discover: Powerful items known as relics can be found throughout the Spire. The effects of these relics can greatly enhance your deck through powerful interactions. But beware, obtaining a relic may cost you more than just gold.
Image via Mega Crit, Humble Games

Getting into the game was seamless. Winning the game, however, will take practice, dedication, patience, and luck. Luckily, the Android port of Slay the Spire is user-friendly. The tutorial is short and sweet, the overlay during battles is informative and unobtrusive, and the character designs and animation are purely delightful, even when your character ultimately suffers a humiliating defeat. You merely have to tap on a card — or an enemy, or an icon, or a menu item — to see it more clearly and get additional information. From there, it’s up to you what you decide to do with that information. (I “chose” to die. A lot.)

My only minor gripe with Slay the Spire on Android, which might be due to my ham-fisted fingers and too-small phone screen, is that one wrong flick of a card can absolutely ruin your whole run. The cards’ text boxes are off-screen when they’re in your hand, but you can easily select from each of them to read the finer details of what they do. Just be careful you don’t accidentally drag a card into battle prematurely or you might end up playing a move you didn’t intend. (I didn’t see an Undo option, for obvious save-scummy reasons.) This is remedied somewhat with Attack cards, which need to be dragged to a specific enemy before activating. However, if you’re a fumble-fingers like me, you might want to use a stylus for your Spire slaying.

For the rest of you, whether you’ve played Slay the Spire on PC/console or have never even glimpsed the game, the very fact that this gem is available on mobile is reason enough to check it out immediately. The sooner you do, the sooner you can start your ascent.

Rating: A- 

Image via Mega Crit, Humble Games

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