February 17, 2015 8:00 AM | Lena LeRay
We Slay Monsters is a roguelike currently in early access. In some ways it's a traditional roguelike, being turn-based and involving movement through the dungeon on a square grid. Its biggest departure, and its unique selling point, is that the player has a hand of five cards that they must use to create poker-like card combos with which to combat their enemies.
At present, there are two classes in the game of the four planned, wizard and warrior. Each class has its own deck, which can't be modified by the player and consists of six suits and the numbers 1 through 9. Each suit represents a different attack/ability that the player can use. The wizard, for example, has suits that do things like give the wizard a temporary shield, add burn damage over time, or teleport enemies away on top of dealing damage. The warrior, on the other hand, has a completely different set of suits representing its different skill set.
Some of the card combos available to the player are straight out of poker, like two pairs or a full house, but others are a little different. Straights and flushes, for example, can take three, four, or five cards. Using cards from different suits activates all of the skills those suits represents, while using multiple cards of the same suit seems to enhance the skill's effect. Before actually playing cards, the player can take as much time as they wish to select different combinations of the cards they have available and see how much damage those combinations will do to creatures in range.
In that sense, We Slay Monsters in its current state does a good job of making sure the player has the information they need to work through the dungeons without getting killed by accident or ignorance. There are some other ways that the game doesn't really tell the player what's going on, though. The effect of stats besides health are never fully explained, leaving the player with general ideas like "more is better" and "a wizard probably wants intelligence more than strength." The player can only find out what the different suits in a deck do through trial and error. A lot of this could be fixed through the use of tooltips or the inclusion of a reference, but the game is still in development and this lack of information never feels detrimental to enjoyment of the game.
One thing to note about the game is that it currently isn't very hard. Maybe that will change in the future, but right now this roguelike won't satisfy diehard fans of the genre who want every move to be a weighty decision. The flip side is that for people who prefer more casual roguelikes or who are newer to the genre, it could be a very good choice.
The game did crash once while I played it, but the game autosaved right before the crash and I was able to continue right from where I left off. I experienced no other bugs.
We Slay Monsters is $4.99 in early access via Steam and available for Windows and Mac. Developer Furiously Inactive Games has announced plans to add two more character classes, a campaign mode with five chapters, an arena mode, and a challenge mode to the game. They plan to push out updates for the game every two weeks until its release and to raise the price upon full release.