Beneath the Oresa, a new deck building game.
I loved Slay the Spire to death and played hundreds of hours of it. But I always wished they had some more animations to graphically represent what the cards said. Some games have done at least this part well in recent years like Tainted Grail and Midnight Suns, but I still wanted to see more of that.
Beneath the Oresea just fully released and it has a striking art style that really spoke to me from the get-go. It’s that Borderlands cell-shaded goodness that I’ve come to love combined with some stylish character designs. You can unlock up to 9 different characters to play as in the game, each with a unique look and cool attack animations. These can range from punching and shooting to full on grabbing enemies and going WWE on their asses.
It’s a hard thing to match the animation to what’s in the card, but they’ve nailed it here. Not only that, but the way time stops and flows while you choose the next card and play it is phenomenal. There is a real feeling of momentum here, especially as you start to learn the game and get quicker with it.
But a deck-building game is not made on the back of animations or art style, although this one has plenty to pull from in those departments. The cards have to be interesting, each character needs cool unique mechanics that bring it all together in a way that makes sense.
The way it works is there are three – let’s call it – classes, each with three unlockable characters. Each class has its unique mechanic that define all the characters in it, for example the first one has a virus mechanic that deals damage to you the more virus you have but also empowers you in different ways. Another class hinges on counterattacks, allowing you to build huge retaliation damage and block an attack strategically. On top of that, each character has other abilities that will make your runs quite different from each other.
When you’re building your archetype, you can also choose to focus on upgrading cards, removing cards, getting relics that boost you passively, getting consumables or upgrading your companion. That’s right you can also choose a companion that will have their own buffs and benefits as you level them up. Some will provide you with powerful cards you can add to your deck, others will passively boost different aspects of your run.
All in all, there is a lot here to enjoy. This is a love letter to Slay the Spire in my opinion as so much of the design harkens back to it. The card systems are not quite as sophisticated, but they are interesting enough to keep you going for “just one more run”.
And the music is actually really nice in this – usually I turn it off and listen to a podcast, but I found myself jamming to it while playing.
With all that said I do have some constructive criticisms after playing for a few hours. The tutorial on the right of the screen never goes away and cannot be removed – this is kind of damning for a game that rewards mastery. At the same time, some mechanics or interactions are not explained and are hard to understand even with experimentation. Sometimes you will see a card that says almost nothing on it with no tooltips, and you’re left wondering what the hell does it do? I also would have loved to see a class revolving around stacking block, I think that can be a really cool turtle playstyle.
I do think this is worth a pickup if you dig deck-building games at around 20 bucks on steam and you want something in the vein of Slay the Spire but with a fresh touch. Kudos to the folks at Broken Spear Inc for making a really fun game, in a genre where the bar is set really high. I’m looking forward to what they do next.
If you dig this written format check out my Lies of P review.
I’ll leave a link to the game on steam, where it’s currently sitting at mostly positive reviews so you can take a look for yourself.
Cheers everybody and enjoy your games!