Finnish based developers 10tons Ltd. are back again with their latest game on console, Spellspire. Like practically every 10tons game, Spellspire offers up fun when you just have a little bit of time to game and can’t really get into a 45 minute mission in a “bigger game.” That’s one thing I love about games made by 10tons, you can spend a lot of time playing them but have it be spread out over short chunks of time. Slow and steady progress without spending time trying to rush to get to a save point.
Spellspire just released a week ago on PS4, Xbox One, PC, and PS Vita, but it’s actually a port of the mobile game that released over a year ago. You’ll be able to notice that because it just seems better suited for mobile touch screen devices than it does home consoles (I’m sure PC and Vita are both fine for this very reason). That’s not a complaint, it’s just obvious that touching the letters is a faster and better method than using a d-pad or thumbsticks to move to the letter.
The game sells for $9.99 on PlayStation and Xbox, and is currently $8.49 on Steam. Is this single player Scrabble with action RPG elements worth it? Let’s find out.
So what exactly is Spellspire? We’ll it’s a combination of a word game and an action RPG. You move through a level killing enemies with a magic wand by spelling words. The bigger the word, the more damage you do. Sometimes you can even kill two enemies or more with a single word. Yes, you’re a wizard casting spells at enemies by spelling. Clever.
As you kill enemies, they’ll drop gold and other items. The gold is what you spend in the store to become more powerful. There’s many wands, hats, and robes that can purchased and upgraded. And it all cost gold. Some of these you’ll unlock by progressing through the tower, and others will require you go back and replay levels to acquire stars. And to get the stars you’ll have to complete the challenge; lose no health and monsters attack 10% faster.
The tower is made up of 100 floors, and there’s a unique boss battle every 10 floors. The boss battles are intense, because more so than the other levels you’re really racing against the attack clock. Unless you’re over prepared, it’s entirely likely that the boss will kill you in one shot, so you need to string as many words together as possible in the 40 seconds or so before it attacks. The bigger the word, the more damage you’ll do so you don’t really want to be throwing out three letter words on the boss. You’re just wasting time if you do that.
You may need to go back and replay levels to acquire gold to be able to either buy a more powerful piece of equipment or upgrade what you already have. Becoming more powerful is the big priority because without better gear, you’re simply not going to be doing enough damage (or able to take enough hits) regardless of how big your word is.
As stated in the beginning, Spellspire is great for quick gaming sessions. No floor is going to take more than a couple of minutes per attempt to complete, so it’s perfect for hopping on and clearing a few floors and then moving on. Slow and steady progress through the games 100 levels, essentially 200 since you’ll need to replay them to get the stars, and there’s a dungeon too. There’s a lot to do here, even if it does ultimately become repetitive (all you’re doing is unscrambling 10 random letters to spell words).
For the most part, Spellspire offers up a satisfying and fun experience. The only real problem with the game is that sometimes the game just doesn’t recognize a legitimate word. And that can be frustrating if it’s a particularly long word because you wasted all of that time spelling it. It takes longer with a controller than it would tapping on a mobile phone, tablet, or even a Vita. Those lost seconds can leave you scrambling and then open you up to be attacked. If it’s a boss, it could be your death.
Thankfully, more often than not, at least for me, the word you input will register as being a word. A more frequent source of frustration, but not necessarily a problem, comes from the fact that the letters you get are random each time you attempt the level. That means it’s completely RNG on whether or not you get to breeze through a level or struggle to string together even enough three or four letter words to take out the first few enemies. Sometimes they’re easy, sometimes you better be a walking dictionary, and sometimes you’ll feel like an idiot because you didn’t see obvious words.
To get the most out of Spellspire you’ll definitely have to grind, but luckily it won’t be a burden since you’ll likely be playing in small doses and thus aren’t likely to get burned out trying to grind. Spellspire takes the word genre and adds in some RPG elements, and the end result is a satisfying way to spend some time each day.
Spellspire gets a three out of five: SATISFYING.
* A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review.