A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Other than the typical "good vs. evil" fantasy theme, there's very little overall story. Players are simply exploring the tower, fighting creatures, and collecting loot to progress as far as possible.
Positive Role Models
While the player is an archetypical fantasy hero, there's not much character development. Instead, it's basically just an avatar representing the "good guys." There's even less background or development on the other side of the battlefield, as enemies are just minions of the greater evil.
Ease of Play
Gameplay is straightforward and easy to pick up and play, with simple mechanics and cards that plainly explain their functions. Effectively managing your deck of available cards, though, requires a fair amount of strategy and planning. Also, the difficulty curve starts to sweep up as players continue to ascend the spire, running into more powerful and larger numbers of enemies.
Violence & Scariness
Players are constantly battling against enemy creatures in turn-based battles, using a variety of weapons, skills, and magic spells. All the attacks are shown as flashy effects, with no blood ever shown and defeated enemies simply disappearing from the screen.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Some of the game's images, cards, and events occasionally reference both smoking and drinking alcohol.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Slay the Spire is a turn-based adventure game available for download on PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch, as well as Windows, Mac, and Linux-based computers. The game combines elements of dungeon crawling with those of a card battling game. Players move along a series of different paths, fighting against enemy minions and bosses by using abilities from a constantly evolving and customized deck of cards. Although combat's constant, attacks are represented with flashy effects and cartoonish animations, with no blood or gore shown onscreen. The game's mechanics are simple to learn, but require strategic thinking and planning to be effective, especially as the game progresses. Some cards have references to smoking and drinking alcohol.
Is It Any Good?
The big risk that comes with mixing different tastes together is that you're just as likely to wind up with a complete mess as you are to have the next big thing. Thankfully, Slay the Spire, a unique hybrid of a rogue-like dungeon crawler and a collectible card game, is the most successful blending of flavors since chocolate and peanut butter. The game leans much more heavily into its card game elements, which is a perfect fit for the turn-based battles. While the early part of the game is little more than a constant mix of basic strikes and blocks, it's not long before new cards added to the deck open up a slew of unique opportunities for devastating combos. And while there's a certain element of chance involved, successfully progressing higher up the Spire requires a level of strategy and forethought that makes victory feel like a true accomplishment rather than just the luck of the draw.
While the adventure elements in Slay the Spire aren't quite as much of a focus as the card gaming, they do add enough twists and quirks to the gameplay to keep things interesting. Potions, items, and artifacts feel right at home here. And when you run into a chance event, you might need to thing long and hard before deciding if that strength boost is worth losing half your max HP. Choose wisely and you can make it to new heights in the Spire. Choose poorly and you're back on the ground floor starting fresh. Of course, that's not necessarily a bad thing, as the game is procedurally generated, meaning each adventure is a brand-new course than the one before, which will keep you coming back for more exploration and more treasure. It's that engaging gameplay that makes Slay the Spire a game that's packs in loads of fun and is a must have for card game fans.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.