Just Like Icarus

Pride comes before a fall. Literally in the case of Icarus. Proverbially in the case of Ilsebill, a fisherman’s wife from a German folktale about greed. I’ve known these stories since I was a kid. And even back then I thought that the foolishness of Icarus und Ilsebill was quite obvious. So what’s the point of these educational, morality-soaked stories? If the misbehavior is so obvious, no one applies the message to themselves. Only because I don’t fly too close to the sun with my wax wings, I can still survive the jump from my school’s roof. Besides, back then I asked myself how high the fool must have flown, because it actually gets colder with every meter of altitude. And before you really get too close to the sun, you are face with a completely different problem called vacuum. Same goes for Ilsebill: Back in primary school I felt stangely ashamed for the demands of that rude, insatiable brat. In both stories, fate takes its course. Icarus and Ilsebill wanted too much and fell.

Slay the Spire is a deck building game that allows for complex and satisfying combinations and strategies. I’ve been playing it with great pleasure for a few days now and have successively reached the end credits with the three standard characters.

But the game is far from over at that point. In addition to increasing the difficulty level, you can collect key fragments that unlock a secret fourth act. Thatt act contains a brutally tough challenge. I understood what was being asked of me here and just accepted that I would not go along with this madness.

Does that mean I have to move on to other games already? Not at all! There is more for me to do: A fourth character, which is not needed to unlock this impossible bonus fight, offers another gaming experience. It wasn’t easy and I narrowly failed a couple of times, but in the end I had an excellent strategy. Chance played along and dealt me exactly the cards I needed.

I should have been asleep long ago, but it was well-spent future exhaustion: I plowed through the three acts like a wild warrior god. Nothing came close to harming me. I paid no attention to the key fragments, I didn’t want to reach the fourth act, just the credits after the third.

There is a boss fight at the end of each act. Right before it, a cozy fire awaits. A resting place where you can heal yourself, among other things. It is sensible to heal before a tough boss fight. Who wants to see all the work that went into the current deck ruined in the last few steps? Well, if you do want all the key parts, you have to give up healing at one of the rest stops. So far, I had always declined and warmed myself by the fire. At the end of my journey, a good quarter of health was gone. It was the last battle I would face before the credits rolled. And yet… it was going so well. I was flying so safely over the sea. My every wish had been fulfielled by Lady Luck, no matter how exaggerated. Why should I stop now. This mighty deck. This great character. I was invincible. The Act 3 boss suddenly didn’t seem like the last hurdle I had to clear. He was just in the way on my journey to Act 4.

Now I am tired and have nothing to show for it but this text.

Before complaining that the punch line of this text is very predictable, remember that the stories of Icarus and Ilsebill also are. Slay the Spire, on the other hand, is not at all. In the 2019 deckbuilder from MegaCrit Games, you have to improvise a lot and are constantly surprised – sometimes positively, sometimes very negatively.

This post is also available in: German