– Slay The Spire is one of those games where I found myself sitting alone at my desk, just giggling as I played. Not because it’s exceptionally funny, though its well-written encounters can be that, but because some combo of cards that had chanced its way into my hand would just go off, and the result was an absolute thrill. I couldn’t help but laugh, because win or lose, that combo may never show up again. Boy, was it a blast in the moment. (intense orchestral music) Here’s a genre mix you probably haven’t seen before. Slay The Spire is a deck building, Rogue-like dungeon crawler. Don’t mistake it for deck building game like Hearthstone or Magic: The Gathering. Instead, you pick one of three varied, but equally exciting characters with unique card pools, and start with a super basic deck. As you work your way up the spire, you’ll fight increasingly difficult monsters, to acquire new cards that slowly build your deck into something better. Being a Rogue-like, making it all the way to the top only takes about an hour, giving Slay The Spire an addictive loop of picking cards, figuring out how good they are, dying frequently, and then, taking that hard-earned knowledge with you to the next run.Apart from unlocking a few new cards and collectible relics as you play, you never actually get stronger from one run to another, you just get smarter and better at quickly deciding what will or won’t be useful. Choosing when to play an attack card instead of a defense card is important, and my confidence actually grew with every failed run. Playing cards is also satisfyingly snappy and fast, if you want, but Slay The Spire doesn’t rush you with a timer, if you prefer to take it slow. Possibilities feel close to limitless, because there’s rarely a right choice when making decisions.And, each character has multiple playstyles you can try to build your deck around. The Silent is a rogue-ish character, who can be built to stack a poison effect on foes, or alternatively, to buff a ton of cheap, weak attacks, instead. It feels fantastic when you pick a route and find all the combo pieces you were hoping to. But, the interesting and ever-changing challenge of Slay The Spire is how you adapt your strategy based on what it is actually offered to you along the way. A perk of short runs means that if you don’t find what you want, it’s not too hard to brush off an unlucky loss and try again. Each of Slay The Spire’s enemies has a variety of unique attacks and abilities, making them challenging puzzles to solve in their own right.Because you can almost always see what an enemy will do next, you’ll have the opportunity to strategically time your moves to counter their plans. The enemies get harder and more varied as you get deeper in, and are randomly distributed along the simple, but amusing dungeon map. It didn’t take long before I started recognizing most of them, which does eventually start to make runs feel a bit too similar, but on the other hand, I liked being able to learn how to counter what I knew was coming, and the not-to-be-underestimated challenge those enemies pose was enough to keep things feeling fresh for a long time. Thankfully, Slay The Spire also shakes things up with a Daily Climb mode with a leaderboard, adding wacky modifiers to a set run each day, as well as 20 escalating Ascension difficulty levels. You can even make custom games with any number of those modifiers, and the Steam modding community on PC is thriving with custom characters, new enemies, and loads more.Slay The Spire takes some of the best parts of deck-building games, Rogue-likes, and dungeon crawlers, and mixes them into a wholly new and extremely satisfying package. It encourages experimentation, gives you time to make mistakes, and will challenge you immensely as you navigate your way through floor after floor of entertaining puzzle-like fights. It’s an idea so good that’s inspired a dozen games like it before it even left early access, but is executed so well that none of them even come close to matching it.For more card games and Rogue-likes, check out our reviews of Artifact or Hades, respectively. And, for everything else, keep it right here on IGN. .