Thursday, November 9

Review: Spellspire [ Nintendo Switch eShop ]

The folks at 10 Tons have been on a roll bringing their back catalog of games to the Switch. While their most noteworthy titles have been of the twin-stick shooter persuasion they’ve also been delivering some budget-friendly casual titles as well, and Spellspire is their latest. Emulating word games like the PopCap classic Bookworm, this is spelling RPG of sorts of will challenge your speed, vocabulary, and sometimes your patience as well.

The gameplay is generally quite simple. You’ll start up a floor, first checking out the various monsters you’ll face on it, and the 10 letters you’ll have to work with will show up on the bottom right. You’ll be challenged to come up with as many words as you can with that set for the duration of your time on the floor, the longer the word the more damage you’ll do to your enemies. While mechanically this is all pretty simple depending on the collection of letters you may get on a specific floor you may not feel that way. Over the course of many rounds what shows up really is a crapshoot and you’ll have very good rounds that almost seem trivial and others where you’ll stumble even coming out of the gate. Definitely just get the ball rolling small at first, and hopefully pick up some plurals if you have an S, and then hopefully longer words will come to you… sitting and thinking will take time off the clock and the monsters you’re up against will start attacking!

Where the RPG elements come into play is with your health as well as that of the monsters, and how you’ll be able to use the gold you accumulate in the shop. How you spend your money will have a big effect on how you play and as you complete new levels new gear will become available. The thing is, unless you simply want to grind forever to afford it all you’re going to have to make some tough choices. A lower wand or cloak may not have a cool enhancement like freeze or poison but its upgrades are cheaper and will have more benefit in the short term than the more expensive shiny new item that just became available. Depending on your play style or even the monsters you may be having trouble with you may want or need to switch up your strategy as well. There’s no “right” combination of gear it seems the majority of the time, you’ll just have to come up with what works best for you, your goals, and your play style.

Getting into what isn’t so great I’d first say anyone who is left-handed is going to be a bit handicapped as it is now. Touchscreen controls are to the right so you’ll likely be relegated to the physical controls and while they try to do an admirable job of being workable you simply won’t be able to work quite as quickly with them. Another note is that unless you’re extremely lucky and a walking thesaurus you’re likely going to end up grinding quite a bit to get through the all of the floors in the game. Bosses do some serious damage and are no joke. Even if you’re able to hit them with one of the good usable one-use items in the game you can find randomly that may not be enough to lock in a win. What you’ll likely want to do is repeat levels you’ve beaten to get stars for them, which down the road give you a bonus, and will generally roll in the coins more quickly so you can beef yourself up. Again, be smart with how you spend and try to have a plan, it could save you a lot of time and effort.

Overall, Spellspire is a nice game to knock around casually while you’re either in-between things or possibly doing something else like watch TV. It is challenging, will keep your brain firing to figure out all of the possible words your set of letters has to offer, and provides you with some opportunities for strategy as well. While lefties and the vocabulary or spelling-challenged may want to think twice about it 10 Tons has brought over yet another quality casual title to fill out the Switch line-up.

Score: 8

  • An opportunity to flex your vocabulary
  • Touch screen controls are quick and responsive, but if you’re a leftie you’re SOL
  • Allows you to buy and upgrade your equipment and use game-changing items you’ll often need against bosses

  • An opportunity to learn your vocabulary stinks
  • If you won’t be playing with a touchscreen it functions but is so much slower than on the touch screen it’s like moving up to a different difficulty level
  • In general can be very grindy, be ready for some areas of slow progress

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