The Nintendo Switch is busy selling like hotcakes off the back of first-party launch titles. Behind these headline-grabbers usually march a bevy of third-party games, pushed out to take advantage of a new console’s popularity. The Switch has seen a fair few of these arrive in past months - some of them rejigged releases from earlier in the year.
Spellspire, from developers 10tons, originally appeared on PS4 and Xbox One in May 2017. The game places the player into the robe and wizard hat of a young apprentice, who has been charged with getting to the top of an imposing tower. In their way are a host of monsters, evil creatures and bosses that can only be defeated using powerful spells - spells created by stringing together the longest words possible from a jumble of letters.
Spellspire is Boggle meets Countdown meets Rogue Legacy. When players encounter each monster they’re required to find the longest word possible in a group of ten letters. The longer the word, the more damaging the spell. No two words can be used more than once during a run on a level, and no two-letter words are allowed, either. Even with this restriction, you’ll find it hard to run out of combinations, especially when the game chucks an “s” into the mix and downright tells you that plurals are allowed.
Each monster that you vanquish will drop coins that can be spent, RPG-style, on new wands, clothes, hats and abilities to help you advance further. A varied inventory is important, too, as each monster has its own strengths and weaknesses. Exploit the latter and your three-letter words will feel just that bit more impactful.
Those familiar with 10tons will recognise a lot of its hallmarks in Spellspire: cutesy graphics, simple gameplay and easy-to-grasp replayability. Whereas on other platforms the game has been criticised for being simplistic and more like a mobile game, it has found its home on the ever-so-portable Switch. I played Spellspire at home, on my commute to work and on a particularly long train journey to visit family. As a timesink, it’s almost perfect.
That’s not to say the game isn’t without its faults. Though 10tons has gone out of its way to equip players with everything they need to progress, it’s easy to get stuck on certain levels because you haven’t specialised your wizard properly. This becomes more apparent as you reach higher levels of the tower, when enemies can one-shot your poor hero if the player cannot find a sufficiently-powerful word to cast.
Despite this, there are supplementary items that can be picked up or bought which find the largest words available, enabling you to shoot off a powerful attack right at the start of a boss battle. To earn these though, players will have to repeat previous levels in the tower to earn stars and extra coins to power themselves up. There are 100 levels in the tower but I found myself playing one or two levels six or seven times to dredge up the cash to get past a boss.
Graphically, Spellspire is nothing to write home about, yet its look and feel serves the game’s purpose well. The effects for the different elemental types are impressive, and the range of enemies to fight is surprisingly deep. The game’s humour often hits home well, with well-placed in-jokes and references, and never overstays its welcome.
Spellspire is a game that knows what it is, and doesn’t aim for the stars. It’s a more than enjoyable experience worth the £9.99 price tag. Those looking for a fun little game to play during downtime, or even something to distract the kids, can’t go far wrong here.
Spellspire (Reviewed on Nintendo Switch)
This game is good, with a few negatives.
Spellspire is a game that knows what it is, and doesn’t aim for the stars. It’s a more than enjoyable experience worth the price tag. Those looking for a fun little game to play during downtime, or even something to distract the kids, can’t go far wrong here.