I have a strange love for spelling games, especially ones that mix in some RPG elements. About a year ago, I gave Letter Quest a shot but ultimately found it kind of lacking. However, the itch to rearrange letters began to set in again and I once again found myself craving a spelling RPG. This time around, I picked Spellspire, where you guide a young wizard as he climbs a hundred floor tower while combining words to make spells. Will this provide a good mind bender, or should I keep to other forms of attacking?Your goal in Spellspire is to get to the hundredth floor at the top of a tower. Each level is full of monsters and to complete that floor you need to work your way through them. At the beginning of each area, you'll be assigned ten letters and these are the only ten letters you'll get for that run. You can spell whatever words come to mind with these letters, and you don't lose them for doing so, but you can only use each word once. The idea is to use smaller words to deal with the trash mobs and save the bigger words for the tougher enemies.
As you spell words to defeat the monsters they'll drop money that you can use between levels to upgrade existing gear or buy new gear. You constantly have to be buying new stuff as the monsters will constantly be growing stronger as you continue to move up the tower. Monsters also have a chance of dropping items which do things like automatically spelling out the longest word from your batch of letters, or heal yourself after you take damage. Both upgrading your equipment and making use of these items are going to be necessary for advancement.
The problem? It's all a bit luck based. Since you're only given ten letters at the start of each level and there's no way to choose which letters you get or reshuffle the letters, there's a chance you'll do really well or really poorly. You could be handed ten letters that aren't really conducive to many words, or you could get ones that basically let you steamroll through the enemies like its no problem. At times it felt less like I was getting through the game because of my spelling skills and more because I had gotten a set of easy to use letters. The same can be said for items, but at least that's on a smaller scale.
I could at least improve my chances by studying my enemies. Each enemy had an elemental weakness that I could try and exploit with elemental wands. However, each new wand I unlocked for purchase was noticeably stronger than the last, to the point where I could use a new wand with an elemental weakness against an enemy and still do about the same amount of damage that a wand I unlocked about ten floors back with an elemental strength would have done. It ultimately made buying anything but the newest wand useless, knocking out what should have been an interesting system.
If you want to buy things you'll have to do some grinding too. After you finish a floor you can replay that floor and try to earn a star from it. To get the star you need to finish the floor against slightly faster enemies without getting hit once. As you gather more stars you unlock new items to buy that also suffer from the same problem as the other items you could buy. Ultimately I still went for these stars as the extra money made it worth it, but I didn't have much fun doing so.
Ultimately that's a major problem I had with Spellspire. It's not much fun to lose another level because the RNG gods decided that my letters would be no good for this one. When you're getting lucky then it actually clicks together in a fun way. It just doesn't do so nearly as much as it should, and my quest to find a fantastic spelling RPG will have to continue.
Spellspire was reviewed on a PlayStation Vita using a copy provided by the developer. The game is also available on PC via Steam, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, iOS, and Android.
Spellspire tries to offer an interesting mix of spelling games and RPGs. Unfortunately, too much of the game is left to luck, and the elemental system made to provide something less luck-based never really matters.(Review Policy)
- Spelling Gameplay Fun in Short Bursts
- Dependence on Luck Based Elements
- Required Grinding
- Useless Elemental System