I usually prefer to make "Have you played" articles about games that I already finished or at least have played for a prolonged time. Today, I'm going to make a little exception as I've stumbled across a what I think is a pretty exceptional early access title - Across the Obelisk. To tell the truth, I've never heard about it before but randomly stumbled across it the day it was released. It seemed pretty interesting at first glance and I decided to give it a shot. Almost 15 hours played in a mere 5 days later, I'm quite confident to say that this is one of the best card battlers I've played since Slay the Spire!
To get an idea of what Across the Obelisk is, simply imagine that Slay the Spire and Darkest Dungeon would have a child of love and you should get pretty close to the real deal! In essence, the game is a classical deck builder just like Slay the Spire. You start with a deck of basic cards and slowly improve that as you play your run. The key difference is that the combat is closer to Darkest Dungeon than it is to Slay the Spire. That's because you not only control one but four heroes at the same time. Consequentially, combat follows the classical 4 vs. 4 rules that made Darkest Dungeon so enjoyable. Each of these heroes has its own deck complete with a different focus and playstyle and each with its full list of unique cards.
In total, the game will feature 16 different heroes of which 10 are already playable in the current early access build. That's quite an impressive number considering that each hero focuses on different effects and allows for several unique builds. There are tanks, bowmen, wizards, healer, and a lot more. Basically everything you'd expect from a good RPG. I was quite impressed with the amount of cards already available but at the same time the balance already seems to be pretty good. For the starting heroes, there are several possible builds and after having played some runs, I can say that each of them has it advantages and disadvantages, but all seem to be rather viable.
Image taken from Steam
The game basically offers everything you'd expect from it. You explore several maps made up of individual nodes. While you can only move from left to right, you get to choose which part to follow and you will know in advance what to expect from each tile. There are fights, events (that might very well lead to fights), shops, altars, and a multitude of other options to explore. The game also has a quest system where one node will send you to a different node (possibly even on a later map) to defeat a certain enemy or collect a specific item.
Across the Obelisk is a roguelite and as such, you should expect to die a lot, especially in the beginning. This just might be my one gripe with the game as well - during your first few runs, your chances of making it past the first boss are really slim, so the game might feel a bit repetitive as you fight through the same encounters several times in a row just to die pretty soon after. Your heroes gain perk points after each run you used them in and this in turn allows you to permanently increase their stats, enables you to bring more gold in the next round, and so on. At the same time, each run starts in a town which can be upgraded as well. There you can craft new cards, buy items, and upgrade or remove cards from your deck. All this helps to give the game a nice sense of progression. Even if you fail to beat the boss this time, you'll still have something to show for and will start your next run just a little bit stronger.
Image taken from Steam
What's interesting as well is that new heroes, items, and cards need to be unlocked first. So when you start the game for the first time, you only have access to a handful of cards for each hero. But with each run, you'll learn about more cards, find more items, and so on. This will allow for more and more customization of your starting party while at the same time ensures that you won't be overwhelmed initially. The game certainly feels like its devs put a lot of thought into putting all the pieces together. There also is a four player cooperative mode where each player gets to play one hero. I have to admit that I didn't try that part of the game and I probably won't. I really don't want to wait for three other people to take their turns in a round based card battler but that might just be me, to others this could very well be a very interesting feature.
All things considered, Across the Obelisk is one of the most polished and feature rich early access titles that I've played. This is really quite the feat, as it hasn't even been released for a week and I did play quite some early access titles over the years. Thank's to the huge progression system, I see myself spending countless hours unlocking new cards, leveling my heroes, and trying my hand on the various hard modes the game offers. Right now, the game is sold at 12.74€ which should be somewhere around 15$. That's quite the steal considering that you might very well spend 50-100 hours playing this game. If you enjoy roguelite deck builders, I'd say this is an absolute must buy, it's without doubt one of the most enjoyable games in recent years to me. It has a good 91% positive rating on Steam so far, so it seems people are mostly in agreement with me!
And that's all from me for today. Thank you all for reading and see you next time!