In recent times, deck builder games have grown in popularity, but they are often tailored as deep strategy games that will require a lot of dedication to truly master. Rise of the Slime attempts to strive for an in-between approach to create a balanced game, where positioning yourself in battle is crucial but embraces roguelike mechanics to set up a trial-and-error cycle for success.
Greeted by a strange voice, you wake up in a dark void where you’re told that you have been granted a new life. It then proceeds to tell you the keeper of the castle has lost control, and monsters are on the loose. It’s now your task to restore order across the land, but there is a catch; in this new life, you are not a muscly brave adventurer but a tiny blue slime. The plot is remarkably similar to the anime series That Time I got Reincarnated as a Slime. I don’t know why there’s a current trend of protagonists being reincarnated as blue slimes, but heck, why not?
Before you can start your travels, you must select a deck. Don’t worry if you don’t like the deck you start with, as other ones will become available later. After you’ve chosen your deck, it’s then time to hit the road. The whole experience feels like one big theatre play, as the characters are represented by adorable little stick puppets that move across the stage in a side-scrolling manner.
Apparently, the slime has a built-in sat-nav to help navigate across the land. At the bottom of the screen, it has a mini-map that displays where shops, special zones, and bosses are located. This makes planning the next move a lot easier, as you can decide if you want to use items such as camping sets to restore health or see how far away you are from a fierce boss battle. The slime might have spared no expense in buying a fancy sat-nav, but the places and locations he travels through are sadly not first class. They are mainly composed of marshes, lava pits, and gardens, which regrettably don’t have much going on.
Eventually, you will come across cardboard cut-out enemies, and this is where the combat will initiate. At the beginning of each turn, you’ll be dealt a hand of cards. Each card will cost a certain amount of mana points to play; when you’ve run out of mana points, your turn will end, and it’ll be your opponent’s chance to attack. The cards you can play are very diverse; these range from inflicting damage to your opponents, protecting yourself or imposing status effects that can stack up for some clever tactical gameplay.
This finally comes to an end when all the units on one side have their health bar reduced to zero. A key part of the combat encounters is how you position yourself across the map. You will have to use movement cards to put yourself in the right place to execute certain moves and avoid incoming aggression. If you really want to get the most out of your moves, you can position yourself behind your opponent and stab them in the back quite literally to deal double the damage.
I found myself avoiding close combat scenarios as the monsters were stupidly overpowered and would cause havoc like some protein shake junkies hitting the gym. To counter this, I focused my deck around ranged combat moves, but this was also equally annoying. It would lead to my foes following me across the map like some tearaway bullies after my lunch money, and it just didn’t feel very fun at all to play out.
After defeating your opponents, you are rewarded with a card for collecting their soul essences. Although not always adding a new card to your deck will be beneficial, choosing when to add a new card includes a layer of personalisation to your deck. You will also gain cash after defeating your adversaries throughout your journey that can then be used in shops to buy new cards or spent in special zones to upgrade your stats.
Another nice personal touch available is that you can acquire familiars who almost act like mini pet’s that accompany you. You are given a couple to choose from with various abilities like upping defence stats or stacking elemental effects to your foes that gradually cause damage over time. When familiars are used effectively, they can have great synergy with the card combos and reinforce the deck.
Everything that has a beginning has an end, and this is no different for our slime companion. When you finally die, you arrive in a cemetery where you’ll have the opportunity to buy upgrades with the cash acquired throughout that run. They say you can’t take it with you when you go, but you can certainly spend it at the cemetery. Everything you purchase will then be carried over to your next life and will give you the upper hand in your new run. It’s definitely worth spending your hard-earned cash at this point, as embarking on your new life will revert your pot of gold to zero.
My time with Rise of the Slime was a bit of a mixed bag. It’s not that I don’t recommend the game, but it will only appeal to fans of the deck builder genre. It tries to introduce an interesting concept where positioning yourself is a vital point to each battle, but it would often lead to frustration.
Rise of the Slime PS5, PS4 Review
Rise of the Slime attempts something new in the deck-builder genre with mixed results. The core gameplay loop is fun and engaging, but it’s let down by the positioning system that more of a frustration than a gameplay elevation.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Primary version tested: PS4. Reviewed using PS5.