With Slay the Spire arriving on mobile in an official capacity last year, it has taken some of the wind out of the sails of the Slay the Spire-like cottage industry that had cropped up in the App Store over the past several years. Many of those “Spire-likes" are very good, to be sure, but as the old saying goes there ain’t nothing like the real thing baby, and even with some of its quirks and annoyances, that’s pretty much the consensus when it comes to Slay the Spire. But does that mean developers should stop taking a stab at their own Spire-likes? No, but it does mean that they have a high bar to shoot for with the real deal also being available, and it would take something truly extraordinary to knock Slay the Spire from being the King of the mountain it more or less created.
Well, Func Games and Playbest are taking a run at it with their new title Indies’ Lies. Is this the Slay the Spire killer we’ve all been waiting for, rendering MegaCrit’s modern classic truly dead and buried? Eh… no, but boy it sure could be with a bit of work. Indies’ Lies is a very good game, but also one that feels like it hasn’t fully reached all its potential. The core of the game here mimics Slay the Spire very closely, but adds in some really clever wrinkles that bring a fresh feeling to the formula. Like the ability to add companions to your team and choose their positioning, which can affect how cards play out and adds a neat layer of strategy to the mix. Or how you can pull off special “combos" by playing certain card types in a particular order.
These ideas are really cool and are what can really set a game like Indies’ Lies apart from its inspiration. The problem I think is that the core balance and strategy of Slay the Spire is so absolutely perfectly honed that other games really can’t match up. Indies’ Lies feels like it has some balance issues, but that’s something that can improve over time so it’s not a deal breaker. But again, it kind of reinforces the fact that there ain’t nothing like the real thing, baby. I am, however, very interested in seeing how Indies’ Lies evolves post-release, because like I said before the promise this game shows is tremendous.
What I think is the best aspect about Indies’ Lies at this point is that it’s free to download and try and is VERY friendly to newcomers to the genre. Besides putting their own twists on the Slay the Spire formula, the devlopers also wanted to make a game in this genre that’s super approachable to newbies, and I think they’ve nailed it. If previous Spire-likes failed to click for you, give the free portion of this one a download and play through its excellent tutorial and see where that gets you. The free base game comes with 3 playable classes, with two IAP packs of 3 additional playable classes each available for those that want more, which is a very reasonable pay model. It’s worth noting that the game does require an online connection, which isn’t a huge deal to me personally but might be to you.
Indies’ Lies is an excellent game that can certainly hang with the King but doesn’t quite surpass it, but it has all the potential to in the future and its free portion is very worth checking out just to see a highly polished take on the genre with some interesting new ideas.