Sigil of the Magi Test – A Slay the Spire inspired deckbuilder

Roguelike deckbuilder games based on Slay the Spire are slowly starting to flood the market. Big and small indie studios love this genre, because of their well-proven and tested game mechanics. At the same time, the formula is so firmly established that it is difficult to stand out among the many titles of the trend. Singaporean indie studio Yongjustyong has only one game to their name besides Sigil of the Magi (Gunkid 99), and I was curious to see if they would manage to show something new within the oversaturated genre with their latest title.

Sigil of the Magi, as I mentioned above, is a roguelike deckbuilder with a turn-based tactical combat system. In the game, you control three characters, all of whom are unique with their own active and passive abilities. But here we only have one draw deck, which we are optimizing and developing, and in which the cards of all characters are mixed (unlike the Hellcard I also introduced). This deck management immediately adds tactical depth to optimize our resources. You can decide to specialize in just one hero and try to make him as strong as possible so that the whole game falls on his shoulders, or distribute the new cards equally so that everyone can take part in the battles and not just play the role of a living shield in. The problem is that if a member of our team dies, their cards are erased for the rest of the time, so if a valuable member falls victim to a pixel knife, they are at a definite disadvantage until the current danger passes.

Sigil of the Magi starts with three “peoples” and their own sets of cards, thus providing three relatively different experiences. The Royal Guard faction is relatively simple, it focuses on tactical forms, we can get the most out of the knights if they are always close to each other, thus giving each other an advantage. The Guild of Shadows provides a variety of options, these somewhat underworldly characters like to overwhelm the opponent with curses, poisons and debuffs, but they are much more fragile than knights. If luck helps us and we choose good cards, then we can go for a discard style of play, the essence of which is that by burning and discarding our own cards, our remaining cards become stronger. In almost every card game, my favorite playstyle is to use discard when possible, so soldiers of shadow became my favorites right away. The Far East can be selected for the third time. They are modeled after Eastern monk and samurai archetypes, and their strength lies in their agility.

Sigil of the Magi follows well-established methods in many elements: the map is a copy of FTL: Faster Than Light and Slay the Spire. We jump between three routes, and the different stations hide skirmishes, shops, treasures or special events. Also, you can rest from time to time to recover your health points or improve an existing card.

The innovation can be seen in two mechanics. First of all, in turn-based battles, there is a great emphasis on movement and the position of our characters, both in relation to each other and to the opponents. There are cards that are more effective if we can involve the pixel monsters, while others can manipulate the field and drag the opponent into traps and obstacles, or if we use them badly, our own self-proclaimed heroes. This part of the game starts out very easy, but it is very difficult to master the correct positioning and movement. We can form a wall in front of the injured soldiers to block them from danger if we know the enemy’s movement speed, and it is always worthwhile to be smart in order to limit their options and thus even miss rounds.

The second interesting mechanic that I haven’t seen in other deckbuilder games is the “bench”. As usual, in Sigil of the Magi, how many cards can be played in a round is tied to action points. But what if you don’t want to part with a powerful card, but you just can’t use it? With the payment of the action point, it goes to the “bench”, which is an investment, because from there on they can be used “for free” (since we paid the cost in advance). Thanks to the mechanics, it is possible to create turns that turn battles, and especially tactics that are based on the cards of the bench.

Sigil of the Magi is minimalist in both visuals and sound. The pixel graphics aren’t breathtaking, and I wouldn’t even call them unique, but they serve the purpose, and the only thing I felt was lacking were the attack animations – the two pixel characters just bounce off each other. The animations could have been developed in a little more detail than this.

Yongjustyong’s latest game is not another classic for roguelike deckbuilders, I felt the new ideas were a little lacking to win this title. Sigil of the Magi can be played relatively quickly, it is not a particularly difficult game. Due to the different characters and factions, as well as their cards, there is plenty of replayability. What the game deserves within its limits.

The test copy was provided by the game publisher.

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With over 25 years of experience as an operating system developer, I have dedicated my career to mastering the intricacies of various operating systems. My journey with Linux began in 1999, and since 2015, it has become my everyday operating system of choice. Sharing my knowledge and passion for technology, I also serve as a teacher at The Game Assembly, nurturing the next generation of talented developers. With a focus on DDoS security, I strive to protect systems and networks from malicious attacks, ensuring a secure and stable online environment.