LadiesGamers Rise of the Slime

Rise of the Slime Review

Game: Rise of the Slime
Genre: Strategy, Roguelite, Deckbuilding
System: Nintendo Switch (also available on Steam, PS4/5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S)
Developer|Publisher: Bunkovsky Games | Playstack London
Age Rating: EU 7+ | US E10+
Price: US $14.99 | UK £12.99 | EU € 13,99
Release Date:  May 20th, 2021

Review code used, with many thanks to Playstack London!

LadiesGamers Rise of the Slime
A slime and his pet take on the world.

A slime can be loved. A slime can be king. A slime can gain mutations to spawn gold, teleport, or drop pots on enemy heads. As the tagline goes for Rise of the Slime, “Be the hero that no one saw coming.” Personally, I’m rooting for this particular slime, but I think it’s still got a long way to go.

Let the Mutations Begin

Rise of the Slime gives us another iteration of the cute slime. This one wields a Rusty Sword, has pets of its own—yes, even familiars that hurl fire and acid.

Slushy the Great travels on a tunnel-like journey, pressing towards an unknown goal. Groups of two or three enemies form blockades you must eliminate, with each victory granting new cards to Slushy’s deck of abilities. Along the way, random mutations (passive abilities) can be picked up free of charge to empower this slime.

LadiesGamers Rise of the Slime
The basic starting deck: A few Rusty Sword attacks, a few Shield attacks, and low-level goodies.
LadiesGamers Rise of the Slime
Victory in combat grants a new card. Sometimes none of the rewards look good, and it’s best to refrain from accepting unnecessary cards.
LadiesGamers Rise of the Slime
Choosing mutations can be a toss-up between two good options and two double-edged options.

As with most deckbuilding games, the key to winning is carefully curating your deck. The cards you pick should work together in an effective strategy, and you may even want to dispose of old cards for a fee. After all, you can only draw so many cards per turn. And at first, you have only 3 actions points to spend per turn.

Sound familiar? It’s hard not to compare Rise of the Slime with Slay the Spire, one of the gold standards in the deckbuilding genre. But while Slime shares similar mechanics with games like Slay the Spire, it also has unique or less-common mechanics.

Pets That Actually Do Something

Most notable are its terrain/movement mechanics and pets. Pets are, doubtless, cool. At the end of each turn, my Fire pet hurls a ball of fire on the goblins and swamplings that always seem unfriendly. Take that! It’s nice to feel I’m not all alone on my dangerous journey to somewhere.

I suspect that fire and acid pets are my best bet, though they’re only very effective when combined with a good deck. Defense pets are useful but less interesting. Lastly, there’s the card pet, which basically acts as a pocket for one card.

LadiesGamers Rise of the Slime
Mushroom pants on fire.
LadiesGamers Rise of the Slime
Enemies can use elemental attacks too, like this Acid-wielding wormrider.

A bigger departure from the Slay the Spire formula is Slime‘s terrain mechanics, which add a fun dimension. Ground tiles bathed in fire or acid can work in your favor . . . or against you, depending on your deck and what enemy types show up. There are also other explosive/spiky/painful things to avoid treading on.

This is inextricably tied to movement. Now, moving behind an enemy to backstab them for double damage is incredibly satisfying. And if you have the chance to upgrade your basic Move card to a teleporting Blink card, seize this game-changer!

But overall, movement mechanics don’t so much add fun as slow the game down. So this particular element has a trade-off: it makes for a much longer game. Rather than enjoying the need to factor movement into strategy, I’m frustrated by the way it limits what I can do and makes me play more defensively. Often, I’m avoiding big tough guys who can deal extra butt-whooping damage if I’m within melee range. But this also prevents me from using my own butt-whooping melee cards. All this dancing around skittishly totalled 2 hours on my longest run.

LadiesGamers Rise of the Slime
One of those big guys I try to avoid standing next to.
LadiesGamers Rise of the Slime
Purchasing upgrades: At junctures, you can increase mana (action points), health, and pet capacity.
LadiesGamers Rise of the Slime
I’ll take any help I can get, Bob!

Not-so-Short Run

Though Rise of the Slime has been called a cute, casual entry to roguelike deck builders, I don’t quite agree. Cute, certainly. I love the visual design of Slime‘s enemies. They’re worthy of joining Ni no Kuni‘s adorable bestiary. But casual? Not quite.

It’s not particularly easier than other deck builders I’ve played. If anything, the game’s sluggish pace had me wishing it were more like those other games. The option to increase game speed (in Settings) alleviated that feeling a little when animations ran faster. But I still prefer shorter enemy encounters, less hopping around the field, less attention on the positioning. In other words, the movement mechanics that make Slime distinctive don’t excite me.

LadiesGamers Rise of the Slime
Upon death, you can respawn at the last checkpoint.
LadiesGamers Rise of the Slime
Occasionally, the path diverges. Which room to pick?

Difficulty is subjective, and Slime does well in providing three game modes. “Challenge” is for the battle-hardened, “Old Path” is the easiest, and “Short Run” is shorter than Old Path but harder. Having tried the latter two, I can attest that Old Path is indeed less difficult than Short Run.

The rogue-lite element kicks in when you die, allowing Slushy to be reborn at the most recent checkpoint. On the Old Path, I preferred sometimes to simply restart my run with a fresh deck, rather than slog through familiar ground with a deck that wasn’t strong enough. I liked that any leftover gold can be carried over, but that’s about the extent of “lite”-ness in this rogue-lite so far.

LadiesGamers Rise of the Slime
Early on, you can unlock up to four starting decks.
LadiesGamers Rise of the Slime
Bored of the regular decks? Try the mystery deck, which generates random cards for your new run. This one is a mix of everything.

Is your deck not working out? Maybe try a different preset deck altogether. Despite emerging from Steam Early Access barely a week ago, Slime must be commended for providing no less than four different starter decks.

The basic deck provides straight-up melee bashing, best for your first run. The fire and acid decks focus on using those elements to hurt the enemy frequently, while even healing Slushy. The mystery deck randomly generates an interesting mix of cards. Have fun experimenting!

But honestly, if you’re looking for a first entry into deck builders, I recommend plunging headfirst into Slay the Spire. It has better gameplay and, being the older entry, is more fine-tuned. If you really want a casual, easy deck builder, consider Steamworld Quest: Hand of Gilgamesh—though it’s a JRPG-lite rather than a rogue-lite.

Destined For Greatness?

Being very similar to Slay the Spire in mechanics, it’s hard for Rise of the Slime to not live in the shadow of that older game and be compared to it. The gap in excellence that stands out most is Slime‘s sluggish pacing. The killing goes too slowly, both ways.

What Slime does differently and well is the helpful, hovering pets. The light, cutesy theme is also very much welcome. Being fresh out of Early Access (May 20, 2021), there’s a sense that this slime isn’t fully evolved to the height of its powers. Still, it’s a solid enough game.

LadiesGamers Rise of the Slime
Cuteness alone won’t save this slime.
LadiesGamers Rise of the Slime
Font size and tooltips could be improved.

Conclusion

I just hope that later updates will introduce more content, such as new enemy abilities. Or at least improve the user interface. The thing Spire did well with UI was to provide, through tooltips, all the information you might need to make a good decision. In Slime, informative tooltips weren’t always there to remind me of what certain terms meantor, they were partially blocked by something else on-screen. Card and button selection could also be better highlighted on certain screens. If I could ask for just one “small” improvement, though, it would be a larger font size.

I haven’t played long enough to settle on a definitive verdict, but for now, I can say this: Slushy the Great is still a long way from greatness, but the potential and groundwork is there. I’m keen to see how it develops over time with further updates.

Verdict: I Like It

I like it

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.