It's always exciting to see a new genre fully established, and with the launch of Deck of Ashes into early access today, I feel it's safe to say that Slay The Spire has carved out a fresh niche. Developed by AYGames, it's yet another card-slinging, deck-building RPG, this one with a pyromaniacal, slightly Dark Souls-inspired setting, but with less of a roguelike spin than its inspiration. Players explore an open world map, looting, levelling and collecting new cards as they go to build up their bag of flame-themed tricks. See the early access trailer below.
While Deck Of Ashes has similar combat to Slay The Spire, it appears to be a somewhat more open game, with a map broken up into distinct regions, each inhabited by a different class of monster. You're free to travel around and visit your home camp, spending resources to permanently upgrade it, increase your character stats, and buy cards and perks. You can even buy extra lives in the form of Ressurection Rites, sending you back to your camp after death, but wounded and missing many of the goodies you'd collected along the way. Still, a bit more forgiving than permadeath.
Thematically, it's more black metal than heroic fantasy, with a dash of Dark Souls bonfire imagery. The heroes are the ones responsible for unleashing the Ash Curse upon the world, so they've been browbeaten into fighting fire with fire and fixing things again. While there's only one character at present in this early access version, it appears that all of the planned protagonists use fire-based skills. The current version contains four story chapters and over a hundred cards, and they plan on launching in the latter half of the year with a bit more of everything, plus an 'epilogue' chapter wrapping up the story.
Deck Of Ashes is out now in early access for £11.39/12.49/$14.99. You can find it here on Steam. It's published by WhisperGames.