Spellspire is an action RPG coupled with a word game available for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS4 and PS Vita. 10Tons have managed to maintain their diversity in the genres they approach within their games from match 3 puzzles in Sparkle and Azkend to physics based puzzles in Baseball Riot and King Oddball, alongside top-down shooters in Xenoraid, Neon Chrome and Crimsonland that are clear departures from each other combined with genuine enthusiasm and imagination to deliver unique experiences, but can 10Tons’ latest game achieve the same quality in the form of Spellspire?
Spellspire sees a young male wizard endeavouring to ascend a giant 100 story tower with only a magic wand to protect him from monsters lurking around every corner of the tower. Players must assemble words consisting of between three to ten letters each from a ten letter anagram; resulting in the words being cast as spells from the wizard’s magic wand with larger words producing a better attack against enemies.
After completing the opening five levels; players will unlock the ability to replay levels in order to collect stars and other rewards such as an ever increasing amount of gold coins. Every replayed level is accompanied by a star challenge such as surviving until the end of the level with full health remaining, albeit monsters are attacking 10% faster.
Randomised letters are introduced for the anagrams from the third level onwards which is a positive gameplay element that encourages replaying levels by providing a different experience on each occasion.
Players who complete all 100 tower levels will be rewarded with an unlockable endless survival mode spanning 42 levels in a dungeon which is a fantastic gameplay design choice as it provides a classic twist inspired by retro games from yesteryear such as Ghosts ‘n Goblins in the sense that just when you believe you have completed the game; there will be a major surprise that expands the length of the game quite significantly.
Items are gradually acquired for defeating enemies and progressing through levels such as a backbag which holds items that defeated monsters drop, while gold is earned by defeating enemies; therefore essentially providing the in-game currency. Gold can be utilised at the in-game shop to purchase an improved wand such as 20 gold coins to make the first improvement to your attack range from 27 to 343 doubling to 54 to 686 and a better robe such as improving your health from 30 to 50 with the added ability of monsters taking a bit longer to attack. Further unlockable upgrade categories include purchasing new upgrades for your inventory such as a second slot for your bag to be able to carry more items at a cost of 2,400 gold coins or even sell an item such as the tourist dictionary to receive 75 gold coins which can be reinvested into purchasing an upgrade and even a selection of hats with their own powers such as a weathered hat that with the opening upgrade improves your health from 10 to 18 and inflicts twice as much damage upon enemies for three letter words. However, the vast majority of upgrades require a certain floor to be reached or even in some cases for levels to be replayed in order to collect a particular amount of stars.
A series of rather interesting statistics are provided after every floor has been cleared including the amount of gold gained, total gold earned, the time you took to complete the level, the highest amount of damage inflicted to enemies in total, the longest word used within that level, the amount of words found, the total number of words that remain unused within the anagram of that level and the longest unfound word.
The character design in Spellspire is appropriate as you would anticipate a young male wizard as being somewhat of a cartoonish Harry Potter and that is exactly what the lead character is reminiscent of. Enemy design has an incredible amount of variation as enemies have their own unique attributes such as the common goblin has an attack that will inflict 20 damage to your wizard, possesses 900 health, has multiple weaknesses to poison and frozen elemental attacks, resists flame elemental attacks and attacks every 12 seconds, while chilling stalker has an attack that will inflict 160 damage to your wizard, possesses 6,521 health, has a weakness to flame elemental attacks, resists frozen elemental attacks and attacks every 14 seconds, alongside over 20 further enemies that can be analysed in the Monsterpedia feature after you have battled each of them.
The environment design is simple yet effective with every level during the ascension of the tower having an interior that is akin to that of an ancient castle with subtle differences such as cobwebs, bookshelves, flame lit lanterns, pillars, banners, swords and more besides.
Spellspire supports cross-buy between the PS4 and Vita, although it unfortunately does not support cross-save, so you will not be able to continue from your previous progression on the Vita version when playing the PS4 version and vice versa. Cross-buy presents a superb amount of value as it means that you will be purchasing the PS4 and Vita versions of the game with just a single purchase.
The controls are well mapped to the Vita comprising of an entirely touch screen control scheme consisting of tapping the letter to use it within your word; tapping the chosen letter to remove it from your word; tapping the left facing red arrow to remove every letter from your word; tapping the sword icon to cast a spell; tapping the inventory item to use the item; and the only button press required is pressing start to display the pause menu. The PS4 version has a very different control scheme including changing the direction of the left or right analogue stick or pressing left, right, up or down on the d-pad to highlight the letter you are about to select; pressing X to choose the highlighted letter; pressing square to remove a chosen letter from your word; pressing L2 to remove every letter from your word; pressing R2 to cast a spell; pressing triangle to use an inventory item; pressing the share button takes you to the share feature menu; and pressing the options button to display the pause menu. Despite the touch screen based controls of the Vita version; there is no inclusion of alternative touch pad controls, while there is no light bar implementation which could have produced a variety of colours to represent your wizard’s health and no vibration which could have occurred when casting spells, using an inventory item, defeating an enemy, completing a tower floor or even being defeated by an enemy.
Graphically, Spellspire possesses a charming cel-shaded art style reminiscent in approach to 10tons’ prior physics platformers Tennis in the Face and Baseball Riot, while appropriate character animations for the lead character casting spells and enemies waiting for their turn to attack provides some life to the action RPG gameplay elements.
The presentation of the game is solid with a great touch screen based user interface on Vita across various menus such as the tower menu, shop menus, options menu and gameplay menus with support for navigation via the left and right analogue sticks, directional pad and face buttons, despite the touch pad on DualShock 4 not being supported. The background of the menu screens consists of the surrounding exterior environments around the 100 story tower ranging from mountains to the stars.
Sound effects include selecting letters, verifying an unused correct word, casting spells and enemies attacking your young wizard, accompanied by adventurous and magical music. There is no DualShock 4 speaker implementation which is surprising as it could have produced select sound effects such as casting spells and enemy attacks.
The trophy list includes 23 trophies with 9 bronze trophies, 5 silver trophies, 8 gold trophies and 1 platinum trophy. Easier trophies include the Armored Corpose bronze trophy for beating the armored corpse on the 10th floor of the tower. There are certainly more harder trophies including the Star Tower gold trophy for completing star challenges for each of the floors; the What’s in the Box, The Dreadful Eight and Spelled to the Nines silver trophies and the 10tons of Letters gold trophy for producing a seven, eight, nine and ten letter word respectively without using an in-game dictionary book, although using an anagram solver will provide the trophies rather easily; and the Thesaurus gold trophy for finding 25% of the available words in a level. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 15 to 25 hours to platinum the trophy list.
There are no difficulty levels, although the difficulty curve certainly increases gradually as the player progresses further through the 100 floors within the tower as enemies significantly increase the amount of damage they are capable of inflicting on your wizard, while simultaneously having a greater resistance to your elemental attacks and facing larger groups of enemies periodically after completing a few floors of the tower.
There are no local or online multiplayer modes in Spellspire which is a disappointment as it would have garnered a further competitive edge to the gameplay. For instance, a local and online battle system in which you and the opposing player are attempting to complete the tower floor first and the ability for one player to make it more difficult for their opponent by embarking on a run of consecutive successful first-time words within the specific floor that are above five letters in length in order to take a letter of your choice from your opponents’ anagram to reduce their possible words while simultaneously increasing the potential words you can assemble as a reward for your prowess in vocabulary. You could even perhaps bet some of your gold earned from the single player or the previous round of multiplayer with customisation in the form of how many floors you prefer to play, quantity of enemies per floor and how much gold you want to bet on the outcome.
Replayability is infused from multiple major appropriate gameplay design choices including replaying levels to earn stars and gold coins from star challenges, randomised letters within anagrams when replaying levels, an unlockable endless survival mode after completing all 100 tower levels and upgrading your wizard’s abilities and equipment.
- Title: Spellspire
- Developer: 10tons
- Publisher: 10tons
- System: PS4 and PS Vita
- Format: PSN Download
- Cross-Buy: Yes (PS4 and PS Vita)
- Cross-Play: No
- Players: 1
- Memory Card Space Required: 20MB/Hard Drive Space Required: 86.71MB