I’ve been playing a lot of Deep Sky Derelicts. It’s basically Slay the Spire but sci-fi, you have three characters instead of one, the map is a grid instead of a tree, you can edit your deck at any time outside of combat and you have a hub to return to between levels. It’s also slower, easier and longer than StS, which has its pros and cons.
StS could learn a lot from DSD’s presentation, though. While they both have somewhat minimal graphics, DSD does more with less, to a better result than StS. Most Spire enemies have the bare minimum of animation, with actual attack animations being the exception rather than the rule. Even the bosses lack animations. It’s fine that the game focuses more on how it plays that how it looks but I still couldn’t help but feel frustrated by the subpar presentation, especially since the nature of the game is that you fight the same enemies in the same places with the same cards over and over again.
DSD’s animations are also pretty simple: you have idle, stunned, and critically wounded, which is already a lot more visual information than StS provides. On top of that, attacks are represented by comic book action panels, which vary depending on the type of attack, and whether the enemy blocked it, evaded it, was hit by it or killed by it. They’re static, but they still do far more to convey the action than animating a bunch of particle effects. I’d say it doesn’t even take more work to create them, since the idle animations already have the models rigged, which means they just have to be arranged in action poses.
Ultimately it seems like a minor difference but the effect on gamefeel is so great that I’m enjoying DSD much more as a result. It could definitely do with a lot of trimming of the fat, since you have the eternal RPG problem of having so much loot that you have to take five minutes to sort through it, pick out the better stuff, replace your existing stuff and sell the rest, which is always a chore. Plus, it takes a long time for the game to get properly challenging, and the only penalty for getting your party members knocked out is a monetary fee to revive them back at the hub. It makes me wonder why they even bothered to let you replace party members, because it seems like nothing short of a party wipe is going to permanently kill them.
Still, it’s a lot of fun to clear out derelicts, talk to the weirdo humans on them, talk to the weirdo computers on them, kill the monsters and pick the place clean of anything that the pawn shop will take. I’ve reached the mothership now and the enemies here are kicking my ass quite severely, but I’m making progress all the same, even if I sometimes have to leg it back to the medbay to revive a character. I might even play it again if I finish it the first time, because the classes seem sufficiently different that I’d need to use an entirely new set of tactics with other characters.