Delightful deck-building dungeon-crawler Slay The Spire has officially launched its third character, a robot wizard named The Defect, and they’re a wild one. The Defect can conjure and consume a series of Orbs with passive and active effects, can pull off wild tricks with huge numbers of Power cards, and can also go full-on murderbot and tear enemies apart with their bare hands. I had thought The Defect was underpowered when they first arrived in the public beta build last month but, after more time with ’em, they might be my favourite spire-slayer.
The Defect is a tricky one, mind, with more tricks up their cape than The Silent. Their unique trick is summoning Orbs, which take some explaining.
So! Orbs are magical balls, obvs, which grant a passive effect every turn when conjured (or ‘channeled’, to use the lingo) and a bigger effect when consumed (‘evoked’). Lightning Orbs deal damage to random enemies, Frost Orbs grant block, Plasma Orbs grant energy, and Dark Orbs are slightly different as they passively charge up a blast that only deals damage when evoked. The Defect starts with three Orb slots, sitting around their head, which fill clockwise when Orbs are summoned – which can come through cards or artifacts. When the Orb queue is full, the rightmost orb is automatically evoked to make space. That’s the basics of Orbs.
So one way to play The Defect is build and juggle queues of Orbs. Some cards give more Orb slots, some make Orb effects stronger, and some intentionally evoke Orbs. This was a lot to get my head around at first, especially as some of the Orbs do seem underpowered (eat it, Frost), but is powerful once you understand it.
The Defect is also a monster for Power cards, once you have all their unlocks. So many cards boost Powers, give more Powers, give rewards for casting Powers… a Defect Power deck running at full speed is a beautiful and terrible thing to behold, with passive effects, card draw, Orbs, and lighting strikes popping off all over.
They’re a surprisingly competent fighter too, mind. The Defect has a lot of cheap melee attacks with handy side-effects (one’s even named Rip And Tear, in a nod to Doom), which can become really powerful with the right card and artifact synergies.
In short: I like The Defect a whole lot. They have a lot of space for clever plays, tricky decks, and ha ha hilariously monstrous megamurders.
The Defect arrived in this week’s early access update last night. To unlock them, you’ll first need to play a Silent run. And don’t judge them until you’ve unlocked more of their cards and artifacts.
Slay The Spire is still in early access, up for £12/€16/$16 on Steam. I’d heartily recommend it even before it officially launches, especially now that the daily runs are proper good. Aw heck, I’m looking forward to Defect dailies.