Slay the Spire has the in-depth mechanics, the involved planning, the cerebral style of play, but it lacks perhaps the bleakness, the despair, and the sheer mounting dread of an RPG like Darkest Dungeon. A roguelike deckbuilder where the stakes are high, the art is striking, and the story is laced with misery and melancholy – if only such a game existed, perhaps as a demo, available now on Steam.
Nadir: A Grimdark Deckbuilder is, in its own words, “a dark deck building roguelike…burning of infernal fire”. Playing as physical manifestations of the seven deadly sins, you must descend through the nine circles of Hell — as inspired by Dante’s Inferno — fighting demons in intense 1v1 battles, and gradually compiling your offensive, defensive, and support-based deck.
What separates Nadir from its contemporaries is a unique kind of shuffling system, whereby each time you play a card and the enemy responds, the deck of available cards is inexplicably altered – reliable attacks may suddenly become useless or unstable, whereas cards that were previously unavailable or too costly to use are now your top choices. It prevents scenarios where your deck becomes too strong for the game to present any real challenge, and also where you can always rely on the same three or four cards to see you through. In each fight, there’s an urgent and frantic kind of improvisation, as the rules of the battle shift around you.
Combined with the game’s art and visual style, which, like the narrative, takes heavy cues from Darkest Dungeon (descend into a nightmare; confront metaphorical horrors; struggle to survive), Nadir is looking like a serious contender when it comes to fresh and exciting deckbuilders. There’s no full release date available yet, but you can try out the free demo right now via Steam.
Fancy a challenge? Try some of the other best roguelikes and rogue-lites on PC. Alternatively, you might want to check out some of the other best card games, or if reading about Darkest Dungeon has you pining for something more long form, maybe try one of the best RPGs, including Cyberpunk 2077 and Elden Ring.