As time has gone on since gaming first started we have been introduced to many new kinds of genres and game mechanics. The longer each new genre or mechanic is around eventually somebody tries to mix things together and make something new. As a result of this process we have been given a new game genre: roguelike deck builders.
Monster Slayers is one of these roguelike deck builder. The story is simple; you’re a new member of the Monster Slayers Guild and it’s your job to clear various parts of the northern valley until you get the chance to defeat the Harbinger and earn your place amongst the guild. When the game first starts, you have to select your class from those that are available. Each has its own individual starting deck and play style so it’s best to play around and see what suits you best. After selecting your class you go can customise your character a little by changing their appearance.
On the level select menu you can chose from three separate levels out of the locations in the map on the background. Each of these level have unique enemies and bosses which you have to take on to complete it. Each level also has its own environment which can give you an idea of what status effects enemies give from their attacks such as the volcano level having a lot of fire enemies for example. Regardless of which level you load into some things are consistent such as the NPCs you run into like Healers, who let you heal full health or remove a card from your deck and Captains; which allow you to upgrade a card or learn a new skill/add a new card to your deck. Other areas of the map may contain treasure chests or a campfire where you draw food cards that give you buffs until you either finish and gain the buffs or risk keep going and end up with a fishbone and lose the buffs.
Since the game is a roguelike you have to dungeon crawl while gaining gradual upgrades across various lives. The way to procure these upgrades varies. The main way you’ll get them is by gaining fame. Fame is accumulated as you complete levels and when your character dies; this allows you to get skill points that can be used to unlock new abilities or buffs such as better starting cards for certain classes or an increased HP gain for when you level up in each playthrough. The other form of upgrades is equipment upgrades like armour and weapons. Merchants sell equipment for you to equip and killing enemies especially bosses can let you gain equipment also. A good thing about both your equipment and the perks is that they carry between characters so eventually you’ll evolve from a weak character to one that destroys anything that crosses its path.
The combat is turn based and as you can guess, deck based. Each party draws cards from their deck at the start of a turn and uses them to attack, buff themselves or debuff the enemy. Since you can only draw up to five cards maximum when you’re playing (starting out with 3) it’s important to make your deck as small and focused as possible. If you find yourself with a lot of attack cards that aren’t upgrades you’ll find yourself a lot worse off than if you removed half the weak cards and focused on just having one or two fully upgrades attack cards and some spells that keep you dealing a lot of damage. Spells cost mana points and attacks cost action points so it’s also important to take into account what your deck uses most and focus on building more of the points that matter most as well as having a deck that works best for your class’ strengths. As mentioned before: each class has its own starting deck and upgrades can expand the range of cards you start out with so deck building becomes the most important thing in the game after levelling up. I should also mention that at the stat of each level you get a companion that acts as a spare special card in the deck available at all times but has to recharge over a certain amount of battles after use.
The art is very simple but has its charm to it and the slight details to each model, background to each level and the effects of the attacks make the game nice to look at without being too hectic. The audio is also simple and suits the game but the lack of variety in the soundtrack means the tracks can get repetitive if you’re listening to it for long periods of time.