The Seemingly Never-Ending Task of Doing Everything in Slay The Spire
For the last six months, I have been thoroughly enjoying playing MegaCrit’s roguelike deck building game, Slay The Spire. Thanks to the local library, I’ve put over 200 hours into this amazing game that demands foresight, adaptability, and perseverance. But with the randomness of the game, its frequent punishment of carelessness, and constant learning process, it forces the player to try again and do better than before. This has led to more, “let me try that again” instances than I care to admit.
Yet my experience has been more of a push and pull one. I went into the game blind, which was sort of a blessing and a curse. It was a blessing in a sense that there was this amazing game that I had never heard of. Slay the Spire was all new and exciting once I started playing. On the flipside, the initial learning curve was steeper because I had no preparedness from watching YouTube streamers and learning any of the mechanics ahead of time. So I picked the Ironclad (essentially Warrior) character and stuck with it while learning how the game functions. I learned that it’s usually better to block than attack, which cards and relics suited my playstyle best, and slowly got better and further into the game. But this led to a cardinal sin within the game: staying within a comfort zone.
Since nothing carries over to the next run (gold, potions, cards, relics, etc.) you really have to learn to capitalize on what the game is offering you rather than trying the same tactics over and over again. In other words, what might have worked last time may not work at all the next time. And if I could go back in time six months I would say, “Kieran, try the other characters and be more flexible”. Oh well. You live, you learn. And eventually I did learn. I learned enough to “beat” the game for the first time, felt satiated, and returned the game to the library.
Then, the world changed. COVID-19 was spreading rapidly, the NBA became the first major sport to announce they would be postponing their season indefinitely, and California’s shelter-in-place orders were just around the corner. Knowing that I might be working from home, off work for an extended amount of time, or at a minimum spending much more time at home, I stopped by the library to pick up some books and video games before they closed to the public. With a little humming and hawing, I checked out Slay the Spire again, and boy am I glad I did. Over the last couple of months, this is where the majority of my gameplay has come from.
It really felt like I just experienced the tip of the iceberg with my initial experience. Taking a couple months off from the game gave me renewed interest. I kept placing personal milestones (along with the achievements) to see how far I could go with the game. Beating the boss with the two other characters led to getting the true ending with them, which led to climbing the ranks in Ascension (aka “Hard Mode”) and so on and so forth. And conveniently, the Watcher (the fourth character) released with a free update. A new character with new mechanics led to even more challenging and rewarding gameplay. So the cycle was renewed.
This is when the feeling that the game was essentially never ending really kicked in. It’s not quite a dangling carrot on a string, but more like a glimmer of light coming through the end of a long tunnel. So another break from the game occurred. But the gap was much shorter this time, since I didn’t have the ability to return the game to the library and I wasn’t encountering as many obstacles as I had during my initial wave of gameplay. This is where I started tackling the unique runs, which make an already difficult game even more challenging. But the resulting joy and sense of accomplishment really did make it worth it.
At this point, I still have some difficult challenges ahead of me. Getting to the hardest difficulty and then beating it, beating the game in less than 20 minutes, and beating the boss on the first turn still loom on the horizon. But I keep climbing the ladder and getting closer to that destination of final completion. Yet, it will probably result in hitting a brick wall, needing to take another break from the game. Maybe even calling it good as is. Whatever the case may be, my journey with Slay the Spire has been a unique and incredible one. I encourage anyone interested to take their own journey with the game as well.