Being very close to being a certified boomer, I naturally have an affinity towards retro games, retro-looking games, and new iterations of once-great franchises (let’s… not go into “remastered” territory this time around, please). The Last Spell caught my eye by ticking all boxes that could form a good game for me: Roguelite, RPG, Pixel Graphics, and Turn-Based Strategy.
What’s the Deal with The Last Spell and What’s The Last Spell About?
The Last Spell was developed by Ishtar Games (formerly known as CCCP) and published by The Arcade Crew, Gamera Games, and Dangen Entertainment. It’s been in Early Access since June 2021, and now the time has come for its full release.
When it comes to the plot, I won’t throw in any spoilers here, but I’ll just say that it’s a typical “fight the evil forces” trope the majority of RPGs have. Evil stuff attacks your town and you fight back in order to unveil the story bit by bit as you vanquish the evil. There are Tower Defense and Apocalypse Survival elements, too.
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How Complex is The Last Spell?
I was thoroughly impressed by the game’s attention to detail. There’s so much you can do when it comes to micro and macro management of the town. There are a couple of different resources that you use to expand your city economically and, of course, to fortify its defenses.
When it comes to your heroes, there are so many different stats that you can push for as you level them; they have their perks and weapons that bring different abilities. This means that you will, at the same time, have the flexibility to adapt to different situations as time passes and will need to make decisions about which direction you will take your heroes. I spent the first few hours learning the mechanics, reading the texts of different abilities, and… Sacrificing a lot of innocent civilians and towns in my “Trial and Error” experiments #TrustTheProgress.
I still haven’t fully mastered it, but I’ve found out what works out for me and gets me to the finish line, so you don’t really need to be a battle-hardened hardcore gaming veteran in order to enjoy the game. I also spent quite some time customizing my characters (there are many options there too!).
Is The Last Spell’s Soundtrack Good?
As you may have expected, the OST is mostly metal in genre. The main menu theme has heavy DOOM vibes and I got caught in it almost immediately. There’s a total of 25 tracks of various lengths, and you probably won’t get bored of them quickly.
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How Long is the Gameplay and is The Last Spell Worth Buying?
I actually looked up speedruns for the game (in its Early Access stage), and well-versed players can finish it in about 8-10 hours. I am at 15 hours logged on Steam right now, and I’m around half done.
Given the price of the game on Steam, I feel that if this is your genre, it is worth picking up. At the time of writing, 91% of the Steam reviews are positive… So, why isn’t it 100% positive? What are The Last Spell’s issues?
Negatives about The Last Spell
As much as I enjoyed the game, it sometimes feels a bit too grindy. Sure, when you die in a roguelite game, you preserve some things that will make your next run better, but if the grind becomes too tedious, then it’s a chore and stops being fun.
I’ve played many roguelites recently, and this was the only one that kinda made me feel tired. Runs can take a significant chunk out of your day, and I’m assuming that most players may only have the time for one or two per day. I’m sure that I will complete the game eventually, but I’ll need to find enough time for it. As for you, dear reader, if you have enough time to play The Last Spell and like the roguelite trip very, very much, you’ll no doubt love The Last Spell.
The game provides you with a tutorial and gives you a checklist for various management stuff on the left edge of the screen that helps you not miss crucial info each turn as a crutch, but there are just too many mechanics that you will need to learn on your own. I know it’s detailed and complex, but Ishtar Games took it maybe too hard. Though, at least they don’t have pay-to-win microtransactions in the game – you need to earn everything through hard work like in the “good ol’ days.”
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When it comes to RNG, it’s sometimes very unforgiving and brutal, but that’s a part of most RPGs. In one run, you’ll have it very easy, and in the next, you won’t know what hit you on the very first night. Naturally, I do not expect to 100% the entire game from my first attempt or to have a linear experience, but hey… I knew the commitment I was agreeing to when I installed it. Getting stunned forever is never a positive experience, by the way.
I think that limiting the game to the “defense of the city center” did more harm than good. The gameplay loop might become repetitive for players fairly quickly. Some offensive activities and raids on enemy bases could have been a great way to break out of the usual mantra.
- Great visual design.
- Complex and detailed mechanics.
- A lot of grinding is necessary to get to the finish line, which you need to find time for.
- The game is kinda one-dimensional, despite all the complexity in the design, and becomes repetitive.
- Balance is not fully polished, and you may encounter undeserved “BS” losses.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review. Reviewed on PC.