Vampire Survivors has popularized the now “Bullet Heaven” genre, and there have been tons of releases that are adding their spin on that style of play. Slime 3K: Rise Against Despot is another rogue-lite bullet-heaven game that adds deck-building into the mix with some seriously impressive pixel art. In my first impressions, I’ll talk about my experience with the early hours of this build.
Upgrades and Progression
Similar to other Bullet Heaven games, you move the character around, earn upgrades, and become stronger by focusing on synergies. Slime 3K adds another layer of choice here by introducing deck-building, and an active shop mechanic. Basically, when you level up after killing a certain number of enemies, instead of picking what to upgrade, a shop spawns on the map.
Apart from experience, you earn a different currency by killing enemies. In the shop, you have multiple choices. You can upgrade it for higher tier cards to appear, sell currently equipped cards, buy cards that have different effects, or lock a slot to get the same type of card again. You have limited active slots, and you need three cards to upgrade an existing ability.
All of this adds another layer of choice, and challenge that many other bullet heaven titles lack. Deciding which card to add, and remove can be the deciding factor of how your build progresses in a level. After a certain period, the boss of that level will appear which has a convenient timer at the top of the screen.
This Slime Blob Can Take A Hit
In other Bullet Heaven titles, you’re encouraged to not take damage, but it’s a bit different here. Because of your sheer size, you’re bound to take a few hits as you move around a small map. It’s not a problem though because the spawn rate of healing items is large and you often get speed boosts to cover ground quickly.
In my experience, the bosses are pretty simple, and by the time they do appear you’re already quite powerful, especially if you’ve focused on a specific attack type. I think so far, the deck-building aspect is implemented quite well and works with this style of game. You can use custom decks with a 15-card limit, and as you progress through the game, you’ll unlock more cards and pre-defined decks as well.
My only problem so far is that the game doesn’t feel as challenging so far. I still have to progress a bit more, but so far, if you focus on a certain synergy, you won’t have much trouble getting through its different bosses and enemies.
Great Pixel Art
While I enjoyed the deck-building aspect, I think the bigger draw for me is the excellent art direction. Your slime
monster blob moves around leaving a slime trail as it kills hordes of enemies with a smile on its face. The enemies all have unique animations, and all attacks feel readable with appropriate windups. They’re cute, varied, and have tons of different weapons and attacks to keep things fresh. Just look at these:
All aspects of the map have great animations, with proper shading, and effects. Healing containers burst out of the floor, the shop has an attractive cart logo, and the bosses are chock-full of detail. I love the presentation so far, and while the soundtrack can get a bit repetitive, it’s engaging enough to complement the gameplay.
There are still many empty areas in the menus with placeholder text, but it’s an early access release, and they’ve focused more on what’s visible during the actual gameplay.
Overall, Slime 3K: Rise Against Despot is a fine addition to the bullet heaven genre, adding an exciting amount of depth with its deckbuilding system. For me, the standout aspect so far is its excellent pixel which makes each enemy feel distinct with tons of animations to elevate the presentation.
It’s a bit on the easier side in the early hours, but I’m already unlocking tons of cards to experiment with and create new builds. If it keeps up the variety, Slime 3K can be a worthy addition to your bullet heaven rotation.
This preview is based on the PC version of Slime 3K: Rise Against Despot. The key was provided by Stride PR and tinyBuild.