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Slay The Spire is the best new CCG on Steam

They went and made the gameplay bit first

Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

We get a lot of stuff coming into early access these days, especially on Steam. Slay The Spire surprised me, however, not just because of the reception it’s received from fans but for actually putting the gameplay first in the development cycle.

That’s right. I’ve found an early access game that’s stable and a ton of fun to play right out of the gate.

Slay The Spire is a deck-building game smashed up with a roguelike. You draw random cards from your hand and play them during your turn to defeat enemies, all in the goal of making it up the aforementioned spire one encounter at a time. In my travels I ran into zombies and oozes, spell-casters and shelled creatures, but was also given the opportunity to choose my own path and make some small decisions along the way.

The game is clearly a work in progress, but what it doesn’t lack for is — get this — fun gameplay.

Out of the box, Slay The Spire includes two unique characters with the promise of more to come. They have more than 200 playable cards between them and another 100-plus items to help you on the way. I found potions and totems of all kinds scattered around the procedurally generated levels, and hours in I’m still unlocking new surprises. There’s a leaderboard, and the game has already been translated into more than a dozen languages.

One thing that the game is woefully short on, though, is animations. The characters just sorta jiggle around on the screen. But beneath it all it’s got a wonderfully balanced fighting mechanic. Anyone familiar with the deck-building tabletop dungeon crawler Gloomhaven, or traditional card-based games like Magic: The Gathering or Hearthstone will find something to like here. It’s just begging to be worked into your busy day at work. The thing works on PC, but it’s also Mac and Linux compatible. It even plays well minimized in a window thanks to it’s large, easy-to-read cards.

At $15.99, it’s also blessed with a decent price point. Low enough to get you in the door but, one hopes, enough to keep the team behind it fed and watered until the game is completed. There’s not even any microtransactions. Just pay them their money and you get to come along for the ride.

No wonder it’s been sitting in the top five of Steam’s top-selling games all week. Go check it out right now.

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