Since the dawn of RPGs slimes have existed. A simple form of globus proportion, slimes are typically underrated, easily defeated, and well, more of a nuisance than a formidable enemy or otherwise (not counting those diabolical metal slimes in the Dragon Quest series). So, when I heard about a little blue slime being cast as a hero in a roguelike deck-building game called Rise of the Slime, my interest was piqued. I was ready to dive in and get my hopes up that this Switch title would have some meat on it and not end up feeling like something slimy stuck to the bottom of my adventuring feet after playing.
Rise of the Slime right from the get-go draws you in with its charming graphics and adorable blue slime hero. The game’s presentation is unique as well in that you’ll be viewing everything from a 2D perspective akin to a puppet theater play. Characters are on sticks and aren’t really animated all that much even, apart from bobbing around. Enemies look like what I used to draw on paper and then glue them to popsicle sticks for my kids to have similar battles or stories with. It’s absolutely quaint to say the least and works well in combination with the depth the deck-building aspect that this game brings along with it.
The game at its core is a roguelike, but while this might typically turn away certain players, I can say that it’s thoughtfully done and helps alleviate some of the common annoyances that can be attached to that genre. When you start the game, you’ll have a basic set of attack and defense cards in your deck composed primarily of some wooden swords and shields to get you off and adventuring. A normal campaign actually only consists of surviving through a long series of rooms, many of which have surprises along the way. You’re also able to select if you want a predetermined campaign path or a randomized track of rooms, allowing for better replayability. There’s even a continuous mode to select if you’re just out for survival bragging rights.
Once you enter a room, there are a plethora of possibilities. Treasure rooms, ability rooms, portal rooms, and combat rooms are just some of the primary encounters you’ll see. When it comes to combat, this is where the game shines in depth, blending an active turn-based-position mechanic with core deck-building/usage mechanics. You’ll be given the typical Action Points per turn in which you can elect to use a Movement card to move up to 2 spaces laterally and then face a direction. From there, you’ll use your hand of cards to play out actions such as close range attacking, ranged combat weapons like daggers or lightning spells, and potential Area of Effect cards that cause fire, or acid pools on the ground for lasting damage during a battle sequence.
Typical to a roguelike, it’s kill, or be killed here too. There’s no escape, so you’ll ultimately have to defeat the enemies that you’ve encountered or be vanquished in the process. Not typical to all roguelikes though is how that death of your slime is handled. Upon dying you can elect to fully quit the run, or go back to your last checkpoint. There are advantages to both. Quitting a run will tally rewards and allow some carry over coins that you’ve accumulated to be spent on your next run along with any new card rewards too. Continuing your run allows you to rethink your strategy and tackle upcoming rooms a bit differently. I legitimately found myself bouncing between actions when death befell me.
As you progress in your run, more cards are unlocked either by defeating enemies, finding treasure chests, and other methods. You’ll usually be offered a choice of a card from a selection of three, which inherently allows you to customize your run and deck building strategy to a greater depth and I certainly appreciated the way the game gave some options instead of forcing a single card on me.
The new cards you unlock and add to your deck will also increase in complexity for strategy. Some cards may add negative effects to you in trade for a powerful strike against the enemies. There’s a surprising amount of risk and reward to be leveraged as you keep on moving from room to room.
Furthermore, and adding to the depth, is the inclusion of equally adorable floating pet creatures. Each of these pets can be equipped from the start of a run and offer unique abilities that’ll encourage you to build your deck to support them. It’s another well appreciated layer of strategy.
Finally, mutations that come in the form of passive abilities also litter the campaign and levels throughout a run, and similar to games like Slay the Spire, these mutations will last the duration of your run, and I found there to be a large variety of ones both negative and positive that would accompany me.
Cards and Pets also can be upgraded during a run, which will decrease negative effects, while increasing combat or buff capabilities. This is all done by spending the coins you’ve earned by defeating foes and opening treasure chests. However, even the coin accumulation is another strategic aspect to consider. I found myself planning out runs just to hoard coins so that I could start another run with better buffs and upgrades to see how far I could go.
It’s sufficient to say that Rise of the Slime excels on a casual, but deep, deck-building game mechanic with a plethora of choices in death and at the start of runs. Gameplay options allow you to speed up general game time, but I actually found the pacing to be pretty reasonable for a casual game like this. On the Switch the game allows both Touch and Joy-Con interactions, and I found both to be equally inviting and seamless with no real frustrations. There are a few quicker functions if you tap the screen in certain areas to view things like your draw pile or acquired mutations that the Joy-Con can’t access as fast, but really these are minor convenience triggers at best.
While the game doesn’t shy away from special effects with card activations and such, I do wish there was a bit more life in the actual character cards. Even though I do appreciate their simplistic card-drawn aesthetic, it does result in a more lifeless feel when spending longer amounts of time with the game. Still, it’s worth noting that Rise of the Slime was designed, developed, and artistically made by a single developer; Maris Bunkovsky, and the game he has released here is precisely the type of game that works so well with the Nintendo Switch platform, offering an accessible, highly replayable, and engaging game that has the opportunity to stick around on people’s systems for quite some time.
Rise of the Slime Review
- Graphics - 6.5/106.5/10
- Sound - 6/106/10
- Gameplay - 8/108/10
- Lasting Appeal - 8.5/108.5/10
Final Thoughts: GOOD
Rise of the Slime is a very personable deck-building roguelike game. Robust gameplay mechanics with just the right blend of randomization and skill, as well as high replayability that makes it the perfect game on-the-go. The visuals are charming, but a bit lifeless, however the game is accessible through use of both the Touch and Joy-Con controls. With a competitive price point of $14.99, if you’re of a fan of games like Slay the Spire, Rise of the Slime will be good company in your library.