Sailing through a boss fight with just 1 HP, then managing to kill it off with a single passive blow from a Fire debuff - this was the very last thing that happened to me in my latest run of Indies' Lies, and I am pumped. The roguelike dungeon crawler-slash-deck builder takes heavy inspiration from Slay The Spire.

Yes, I know that game's a huge hit, but I never actually played it, which is why I came into Indies' Lies with fresh, eager eyes. A week later and I'm still as eager as ever.

Indies' Lies review content

The story of Indies' Lies

Being a roguelike, Indies' Lies doesn't really have a main campaign story per se - it does, however, offer you a glimpse into each playable character's past with a story you can unlock after a few successful runs. Completing objectives such as playing 10 cards in a single turn can unlock puzzle pieces that reveal gorgeous character art of your chosen hero, and once you complete all puzzle pieces, you can unlock that hero's story arc.

Indies' Lies review - chapters

Of course, getting there means you'll have to go through a new Adventure using that character, which is where the roguelike goodness comes in. You'll step into randomly generated floating platforms to get to an area's big boss, encountering both friend and foe along the way. Sometimes, you'll step into a quirky narrative where you can encounter everything from shady drinks at a tavern to sus characters that offer you both bane and boon on your journey. You can come out of the experience with a buff, or even lose your arm (equivalent to max HP) in the process.

Indies' Lies Review - Combat

When you step onto an enemy tile, the battle screen pops up, and your deck comes into play. Combat in Indies' Lies is turn-based, so you can freely spend time trying to figure out the best move to make - and you really will pore over those cards, because winning a match isn't as simple as whittling down your foe's HP. You'll have to use a combination of offense, defense, buffs, and debuffs to best your enemy, and there are A LOT of cards.

Battle in Indies' Lies

Of course, that's not to say that picking the best card to play is tedious - on the contrary, the nature of the roguelike gameplay challenges you to play better, smarter, and more precise the next time around each time you die (which is a lot). You don't actually get any stronger (Talents, coins, and items all reset at the start of each playthrough), but your experience makes you wiser with every try.

Indies' Lies graphics

Thankfully, the gorgeous visuals of the game are compelling enough to make you want to try over and over again. Character designs are simply beautiful, making it really difficult to pick a fave since they're all such eye-candy. The music is a nice touch too, and visual effects make even attaching a rune or winning loot very satisfying.

I do also appreciate how status effects and card details are laid out neatly when you long-press on a card. I had no problems easing into the game right from the get-go, but on the flip side, with all the many, many, many card effects, beginners to this genre may find everything a tad overwhelming.

Complicated deck builders already have an innate barrier to entry as they are, and the lack of a comprehensive beginner tutorial will keep newbies far, far away (just to compare, I found the tutorial for Meteorfall: Krumit's Tale very beginner-friendly).

What's the appeal?

The compelling nature of the genre makes Indies' Lies an absolute joy. I am all too willing to spend hours and hours on this game, and that's even truer because I want to unlock all those character puzzles and hero stories. The random encounters remind me a little bit of Million Dungeon for some reason, which I also thoroughly enjoyed.

Cards in the Indies' Lies game

I also really appreciate how you can attach runes to your cards to power them up, and add more teammates to your party as you progress through the levels. Their positions on your formation will matter based on their skills as well, adding another layer of strategy to the gameplay.

Be wary of a few minor inconveniences, though - for instance, a wayward character positioning or graphics placement can block valuable information on the screen during battle. Also, when I tried to tap and hold on a highlighted status or card from the story chapters to see which choice I needed to make, letting go automatically taps on that choice even if it's not the choice I want.