Top 100 Games of All-Time: #31

Slay the Spire

Release Date: January 23, 2019

Platform Played On: Switch

2018 Placement: Unranked


What It Is:

A deckbuilding roguelite game composed of three acts, where you climb the Spire and fight a bunch of enemies in your quest to escape. It’s a very simple format that is just perfect in execution. I’m a huge fan of both deckbuilding games and roguelites, and Slay the Spire combining both was almost like a game designed personally for me.

There are twists and turns to the gameplay to keep it fresh – four different characters with completely different playstyles, and then different builds within the playstyles. Every run is changed by relics, potions, and of course your cards that you can acquire. Elite enemies provide tougher challenges but greater rewards, so fight them at greater risk of ending your run early. Question mark rooms can either be helpful or harmful and can sometimes make or break a run. “Just one more run” is all over this game because of how addictive it becomes trying to achieve that perfect deck.

Why It’s Important To Me:

At what point does “hours played” simply make it so a game has to be in the top 100? Because my Switch tells me I’ve put over 300 hours into Slay the Spire, more than any other game on that console (and anything on Steam – the only competitor I can think of may be Overwatch from when I was playing it every night early in its release). It is the perfect Switch game for me, so much that other games on the platform keep getting overshadowed by it. I can do a run while I’m watching TV with my girlfriend, I can do a run while I’m in bed getting ready to go to sleep, I can do a run while I’m watching a podcast stream. The pick-up and put-down nature of the turn-based card combat makes it easy to be the default choice of “what to play if I’m not sure how much time I’ll be able to invest in it.”

It’s also just too damn addicting to try and build perfect decks. I got into board games fully because of a deckbuilding game called Dominion, so I’ve always had a soft spot for the deckbuilding genre. Slay the Spire puts that into video game form almost perfectly, giving me a single-player outlet when I can’t play board games with friends socially. There isn’t much of a story here – just pure gameplay – and it excels. Several games since have tried to capture the same magic of Slay the Spire but nothing else quite lives up to it for me.

My Strongest Memory:

The first time I beat the Heart. I did it with the Defect, the character I’m the best with and enjoy playing the most.  It was such a fucking adrenaline boost to finally conquer the Heart after being bested by it so many times. It’s the secret final boss of the game – once you’ve beaten the first three Acts with all three of the starting characters, you unlock the ability to access a fourth and final Act, where the Heart of the Spire waits. And you can have a good deck that gets to that Act. But the Heart is merciless and one of the toughest challenges in any game. It throws everything at you immediately and never lets up, so you have to prepare for it from card one, floor one, if you want to have success.

And God does it feel good when you conquer it. Just recently, right near the 300 hour mark, I finally beat the Heart with all four characters. Defect was first, then Ironclad, then Silent, and finally the DLC addition Watcher (it’s free btw!). And the exhilaration of having defeated the Heart with all four characters – showing I have a decent mastery of the game and a definite improvement in skill at it – is one of my proudest accomplishments in gaming.

Why It’s #31:

I’m not a top-tier Slay the Spire player yet – I’m only at Ascension Level 12, 11, 16, and 13 for Ironclad, Silent, Defect, and Watcher respectively, but every night I’m usually grinding out at least one or two runs. And I don’t see myself stopping any time soon, which is unbelievable considering how much time I’ve already put into the game. When a game is this high quality and this addictive despite having minimal story, it has to be high on the top 100. There’s just no question that Slay the Spire is a top tier 100/10 video game.