Each year there is always one game that I know almost immediately that it’s going to be a top contender for GOTY, and my #1 game this year was figured out after about 30 minutes of my first play.
#1 Slay the Spire
Slay the Spire is another take on roguelike design but with deckbuilding thrown in. From the get-go, the game delivers on a high amount of variance between plays.
You have three different starting classes (a fourth one that should be out soon, along with player-created classes), each class has its own unique cards that are based on different builds. Finding relics as you play can create new strategies and can lead to game-breaking runs.
Climbing up the tower, you need to manage your health, what items and cards you buy from shops, the rewards after battles, and your actual path through each area. Things can go wrong fast if you’re not careful, just as you can begin to snowball through if you get the right build.
The amount of variance possible in Slay the Spire makes it one of the best roguelikes to be released last decade. The player must always be adapting to what rewards show up in terms of keeping their original strategy or changing it to make use of new rewards.
I also want to give a shout out to the new game + mode in the form of ascension that adds new difficulty variables for beating the game as a great way of extending the game without just raising stats.
Slay the Spire’s secret is that it’s very easy to understand what’s going on, but it took a long time for the developers to get it to that point. The UI of the game is amazing and provides all the information one would need to figure out the game. Tooltips are available on every icon, and the player is always given the info they need in order to plan each turn.
That last point is such a hard one for developers to get right — as many will leave information purposely vague or hidden. I know that whatever I’m looking at in Slay the Spire, I’m getting what I need to figure things out.
And with that, my favorite games of 2019 are done, and just a little late this year.
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