Never before have the power of words been harnessed so effectively against a collection of the undead as it is 10tons’ new action role playing game, Spellspire. Players take the role of a quirky little wizard on a mission to slay a dragon at the top of a tower, taking out every cleaver wielding corpse and giant purple jelly blob in his path. Each defeated enemy has the potential to drop consumables such as health potions or heavy hitting spells, as well as gold coins. The gold coins can be used between each level to buy wands, robes, and magical hats that each has their own special ability or buff. These can range from adding a fire, freeze, or poison effects to damaged enemies, or protecting the wizard from those same hazards.
Each monster type you encounter has a set amount of damage they are capable of and may also be weak or resistant to certain buffs available to the character. They may also come equipped with their own buffs, making it necessary to purchase and equip the available gear appropriately so that you’re actually dealing out damage with your carefully crafted words.
Spellspire’s tower of baddies features 100 floors of baddies to take on, with each floor having a series of enemies to clear out in order to progress. Players enter a level with any consumables they have picked up from previous encounters but not yet used, and whatever gear they have equipped. At the start of the level you’re given 10 random letters in the lower right corner of the screen, and using the thumbstick moves a green cursor so that the letters can be selected. Spell a valid word that will deal damage to the enemy, and it will glow green to let you know you can submit it with the left trigger. You must be quick on the draw, though, as each enemy has a timer and will attack you if you haven’t taken them down before their timer runs out. During the game’s “challenge mode”, which unlocks on each level following its initial completion, these timers are shortened by 10% to increase difficulty. Early enemies are weaker, and can easily be dispatched with 3-4 letter words, but heavy hitters abound in later levels, where 8, 9 and 10 letter words can come in handy. It is worth noting that there is no point value allotted to the letters, so using unusual letters like Q or Z do not have added benefits. Don’t be fooled by this, though, as longer words are not always the answer to taking down a difficult baddie. One magical hat allows the wizard to deal out 15 times as much damage for palindromes which can make even simple words like “ewe” more worth their while.
If the initial 100 levels and their additional 100 star challenges are still not enough word play for you, then you’ll be relieved to know that Spellspire offers an additional dungeon mode. The dungeon shakes things up a little from the tower’s initial game play. Rather than just having a specific number of enemies on each floor, the dungeon is only limited by how many enemies you are capable of taking down with the ten random letters you have been given. Each level of the dungeon features three specific challenges that can be accomplished over as many runs as necessary unless they specifically denote otherwise. Examples of these challenges include the more mundane “Earn 11,000 gold” to the more difficult “Kill 4 enemies with palindromes”. Completing three challenges unlocks a trophy, and collecting five trophies then progresses players to the next level of the dungeon where the enemies gradually increase in difficulty. Making it to the end of the dungeon puts players up against the dreaded Chrome dragon.
While Spellspire’s dungeon seems nearly endless, there’s only so many challenge options and its not unusual to repeat the same challenge several times before progressing to the next level where you will, again, have to repeat the same tasks to progress. While this can be enjoyable in short bursts, the challenges and grinding required to progress in the dungeon does become monotonous during longer play sessions.