Slay the Spire – Roguelike Deck-building

Slay the Spire (StS) is a deck-building roguelike by Mega Crit Games. Players face waves of enemies to progress through several acts, fighting a boss at each act. The art in StS is relatively simple, and card art designs are created by fans. Albeit having a relatively simple story and almost no game progression, StS managed to capture the hearts of its fans via unique deck-building strategies and “ascension” mechanics, garnering Overwhelmingly Positive reviews on Steam.

StS has a relatively simple story: simply climb to the top of the spire. The player uses 1 of 4 characters and climbs up a spire full of enemies. Each enemy requires different forms of strategies to fight, making each fight a unique experience. Player progress through the tower in 3 “acts”, with a boss fight occurring at the end of each act. At the end of Act 3, the player may unlock a hidden Act 4, which contains the true boss of the game: the heart of the spire itself.

StS a fantasy world with unique-looking characters, and a simple User Interface for users to track their cards and enemy actions. 2D graphics are used throughout the game, with only occasional particle effects from animations. The music gives off a serious feel, immersing the player in a dangerous and intense climb up to the top.

StS uses the libGDX Engine. The gist of the game is a single-player card game, where different cards have different effects, such as dealing damage, gaining armour, or dealing buffs/debuffs/other effects. While enemies do not have cards, they perform certain actions, either randomly or in a set pattern, depending on the enemy faced. Backgrounds and sprites simply follow a set animation. As it doesn’t render 3D graphics, lighting/shadows etc, the game runs very smoothly on most systems.

All 4 characters in action


Though the Aesthetics, Technology and Story may be relatively simple compared to other games in the market, StS’s mechanics is where it shines.

Core Gameplay Loop
Players progress through each act by choosing a route towards a boss, either fighting normal opponents or mid-bosses, visiting shops, healing up or encountering random events. Each node has its fair share of risks and rewards, depending on the player’s risk appetite and deck requirements. To unlock the final boss, the player is also required to collect 3 keys scattered across the maps, adding an additional layer of challenge should they want to do so.

As the player completes a run, the player can choose to increase the difficulty, known as Ascensions, up to a maximum of 20 times, each ascension level introducing a new type of challenge. This is the main form of progression the game offers.

Characters, Cards and Relics
Each of the four characters offers widely different strategies for players to scale the spire. For example, The Ironclad focuses on brute force and solid defences, and the Silent focuses on Damage over Time and flurries of attacks. Each battle can reward new cards and relics, which form a strategy over time. Players can also cut/buy cards at shops to better refine their decks.

Over time, if done right, players can possibly create satisfying broken combos which blast through even the hardest of enemies.

The lens of Problem-Solving
Throughout each run, players are given randomly generated maps, relics and cards. As such, players would have to work with what they currently have or may get in the future. They are forced to think about what kind of strategy they want to build, what cards to keep, and what kind of node to travel to next. The randomness of the risks and rewards causes every run to require a different strategy from the previous ones.

Even during each battle, the problem-solving nature of the game is present: As the player’s hand gets redrawn every turn, players would have to work with what they have that turn and think of how best to use their current hand and find a balance between defence and offence.

The lens of Skill vs Chance
Though the randomly generated maps, cards etc may cause StS to seem very dependent on luck and chance, the game has an incredibly high skill ceiling involved. For example, deck sizes and the proportions of cards in the deck can vastly improve your chances of getting good hands every turn. Managing one’s health and gold, as well as strategizing the best path taken to maximise resources is also an instinct that is gradually developed as one plays through the game multiple times.

Given enough skill, players have beaten the game at maximum difficulty (Ascension 20) up to 20 times in a row, as seen below. As a baseline, many are already happy with beating the game at just the base difficulty.

The lens of Simplicity vs Complexity
StS has a fine balance of simplicity and complexity, as each run can be as complex as a player wants it to be. The player can opt to play a simple “ooga booga, me hit enemy” build relatively easily, by just picking the cards that allow them to do so. However, if the player feels up to the challenge, they can instead go for much more complex builds like Silent Grand Finale, Watcher Infinite Mantra, etc…

Both simple and complex decks are capable in clearing the game if built right. Nevertheless, a base level of complexity is still present in the core gameplay; any deck can fail to climb the spire if not built well.

The lens of Pleasure
The game does not make it easy for players to build an optimized deck. Yet, there is an indescribable pleasure when everything finally clicks. Many fans play for the possibility of building up a complete, optimized deck and watching it decimate everything in its path.


Overall, despite not having a story or much game progression, which is usually the core aspect of many roguelikes, Slay the Spire brings deck-building to a whole new level, allowing it to remain the most popular card-based roguelike to date.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim


The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is an action role-playing game developed by Bethesda. It is the fifth installment of The Elder Scrolls series and was released in November, 2011.

As the 2011 Game of the Year, the game continued to update and released three DLCs, Hearthfire, Dawnguard and Dragonborn in 2012. The remastered version, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition was released in 2016. In 2021, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Anniversary Edition was released for its 10th anniversary.

Elemental Tetrad


Skyrim is a open-world PRG. Players can explore this vast world freely either in first-person or third-person.

Players could focus on completing the main story which may take up to several hours. Besides, there are also numerous exciting side quests. In fact, most players spend more time on side quests (or mods) rather than main quests.

To handle the challenges that are everywhere in the world, players can use a variety of equipment, weapons or powers to defeat the enemies encountered. Unlike many traditional RPG, Skyrim gives players more freedom in combat. A character can be an assassin or a wizard at the same time!

Players could also build their own house, adopt children from orphanage, go hunting or fishing, be a blacksmith or an alchemist.


The game takes place in Skyrim, the northernmost province of Tamriel, which is a snow-covered and mountainous region. The High King of Skyrim has been killed and the land was in a civil war between Imperial side and Stormcloak side. Meanwhile there are rumors that Alduin, the World-Eater, will return to Tamriel and destroy this land.

Your story begins here. Starting as a prisoner ready to be executed, you will have a variety of adventures and eventually become the savior of the world with your Dragonborn powers.


Skyrim provides an immersive experience with high quality 3D graphics. Bethesda managed to create a vibrant and dynamic world. All kinds of details made the world very realistic such as the insects fluttering around the plants and little animals wandering in forests.

The best part is how Bethesda designed and created the different cities in Skyrim. Each city has its own unique aesthetic style. For example, Riften, the home to the Thieves Guild, feels darker and damper than other cities and players would immediately know that it is a place full of corruption and crime when they enter the city.


The game was developed with Bethesda’s own engine, Creation Engine. Although it is not considered a good engine and was often criticized of being buggy and poor in performance, Creation Engine actually makes it possible to create all kinds of mods which really takes the game to another level.

Other Lens


As mentioned above, the Skyrim is a vast world waiting for players to explore. Players’ curiosity would be stimulated as they travel around Skyrim.

Bethesda has detailed settings for this world covering all kinds of aspects including history, culture, geography and mythology, etc. These settings constructed this mysterious world which creates desire in players to explore and discover.

Meaningful Choices

The choices players make are meaningful in the game. Every choice would have some impact on the world.

The most important choice would be to join which side of the civil war in Skyrim. The player as a solider on one side would with their own eyes see how the other side is defeated and conquered city by city. At the end, the civil war will end in the player’s hand.

All these meaningful choices give the player a sense that he is not just an audience, but a living, breathing character in the world.


The combat in Skyrim is challenging and thrilling. The Player would encounter a variety of enemies along the journey, from humanoid enemies like bandits and draugrs, beasts like wolves and bears, to the deadliest creatures in Skyrim, dragons. So, the player might need to have some strategies in fighting with enemies otherwise he will not survive.

A good thing is that the difficulty level can be adjusted during the game, so if the player really feels the combat is too challenging, he can always try again in an easier way.


Skyrim gives full freedom to the player and lets players decide what to do during the game. A player could abandon the main quests entirely and have fun in the game world without any problem.

This level of freedom in gameplay is very rare in other games. I think this is how Skyrim stands out and becomes one of the best open-world RPG ever.

Minecraft (yes very original)

Minecraft with the farplane 2 mod, which allows infinite rendering of the world.

Minecraft. That’s probably all the introduction this game needs. You do 2 things. Mine to gather resources, and then you craft your resources together to progress further. The limits set by the developers: your imagination.

The first thing that strikes you as soon as you load into a Minecraft world is how seemingly endless the world feels. While lacking in story perhaps, the game is a blank slate. A place where you can create your own, and the way the game doesn’t put any restrictions on you is simply unmatched. The game that got me into programming, but that’s a story for another day.

Old programmer textures versus new textures.

First up: aesthetics. The game uses, by modern standards, extremely low-quality textures. Simple 16×16 pixel art makes up every voxel (called block) in the world you see. Yet, making such simple textures look good is far from easy. There is a fine balance between making sure that each block looks detailed, but not simplistic. While clearer, sharper lines may look like the texture is more detailed, it also lacks depth, making each block look flatter than their cube shape already make them do. Yet, blurring the textures too much makes them look, well, blurry. This fine balance was, and continues to be struck by Lead Pixel Artist at Mojang, Jasper Boerstra.

Of course, the aesthetics are not the only simple part. The mechanics of this game, are also deceptively simple. You use left click to break blocks or attack monsters, and right click to use or place items. However, that is before you factor in the vast number of items in the game. The game lures you in with simple, intuitive controls that are shared among any first person game. WASD for movement, space for jumping. Yet, as you progress further into the game, you find items like the water bucket, that add so much more depth to the mechanics to the game such as being able to nullify all falling damage by simply timing your right click and placing the water below you at the exact right time. This combination of simple inputs and items that change how your character interacts with the world are perfect for a game that really champions player regency and choice — the ideal sandbox game.

Story is something that Minecraft leaves (mostly) to the player. You are as free as you can be in the world, and all the goals for “completing” the game are optional. In fact, you are even allowed to skip all the progression and simply build yourself a town that has a story you yourself want to tell. In this vein, it is hard to find another game that gives you as much freedom, that lets you rebuild the world itself as you see fit.

Finally, technology. The reason that Minecraft is so popular is not simply because of the other 3 points, but that it fulfils all that without needing incredibly powerful hardware. Optimisations like only rendering faces of voxels that can be seen and the lower quality textures means that the game can be run on extremely old hardware, and can support a huge number of modifications if you have the proper hardware to run them. Each world is also run as a server, even single player ones, meaning that you can easily host a local game for friends when inviting them over in the game itself, without having to learn about how to setup game servers at all.

In Minecraft, the experience of the game really starts with surprise. The different sounds made and items dropped from breaking blocks. The recipes they unlock. The items you can derive from those objects. All these contribute to a sense of wonder, with each new block you find filling you with surprise as you wonder what comes next. The sheer amount of blocks in the game, along with yearly updates, means that even after years of playing the game, each time you boot up the game, there is a chance you discover something new, a different feature that maybe you never interacted with in your countless playthroughs of the game. This feeling of surprise is unmatched, and is incredibly simple to recreate for yourself. Just start a new world, and immerse yourself in an entirely new world, right from the beginning.

Where does the fun come in then? Well, the human brain loves rewards for completing tasks, and I feel like nothing else rewards you more than the sounds in the world you hear when you simply play the game. In Minecraft, each action immediately provides you with a satisfying audio feedback. The satisfying pop as a block breaks. The plop when you pick up an item. The cheerful, musical ding that plays when you pick up a bit of experience from killing a monster. The most genius part of the sounds in the game is that they never really repeat themselves. Each sound played is varied in pitch by a little, letting you feel the results of your actions, and rewarding you for each small action, making a normally tedious task like gathering resources seem like a fun activity.

Curiosity as well is something that the game encourages. Throughout most of its lifespan, the game has not had guides for most of its content. Information such as whether you can break a certain block is actively hidden from the player, forcing them to try different things and inadvertently steering them towards the infinite world as they break different items and put them together in different combinations in the crafting table to see what sticks (haha get it). A simple 3×3 crafting grid that lets you place items however you want lets players figure out how items are made on their own, with recipes for items to be crafted arranged in a manner that makes sense, while also rewarding you for experimentation and curiosity.

Of course, the game is not without its flaws. The problem solving required to “complete” the game by the developers’ standards has never really been made clear to the player. The surprise of finding something new is great, but only when it makes sense for the player to find out about that on their own. When the player is required to stumble into things that are not easily deduced from what we know about the real world that Minecraft is trying to emulate, we cannot force the player to use the same method of trial and error to simply find out recipes that make sense. It is in this aspect that Minecraft is lacking, but steps such as a recipe book that lets you know all the items you can craft with items that you have found before have made steps towards making this less of an issue.

Pico Park

Work together and clear levels!


Pico Park is a co-op, multiplayer 2D platform puzzle game developed by TECOPARK. The initial release of Pico Park for was in 2016 via the game retailer Steam, featuring local multiplayer game play. It was later released on June 8, 2019 for Nintendo Switch. In 2021, the game was updated to add online multiplayer features to allow game play through an internet connection.

The Elemental Tetrad


Being a 2D platform puzzle game, Pico Park emphasizes the usage of player movement to achieve the goal of clearing puzzles. There are only simple movements allowed, such as jumping, and WASD keyboard type movement. The core mechanic here is about movement, in coordination with the other players on your team to achieve the objective of acquiring a key and progressing to the end by opening a door.

2 players carrying the key to the door

Most of the gameplay is pretty simple, but it requires players to work together by stacking each other up or by moving in unison.

The need for coordination is amplified by the number of ways in which a player could die, which will affect the gameplay and cause the level to restart.


Honestly there is zero story involved with Pico Park. It is just a cute animation game for players to play together. As a player, you probably would not miss the storyline either, since it was not an open world concept to begin with.


It has pixel based animation art, which contributes to a sense of minimalism and nostalgia for the players. It also makes use of the fact that it is a 2D game, to evoke the memories of old games on consoles and Nintendo DS.

This reminds players of their childhood and makes it easy for everyone to jump on.


The technology used here is online multiplayer through either Steam, or the local multiplayer mode with Nintendo Switch. The game was simple so it did not require much control or complex tech to support it. This contributed to the charm of the game as well.


#6 problem solving

Being fundamentally a puzzle solving game, Pico Park attracted the type of players that usually would enjoy solving a hard problem or did not mind failing levels numerous times over. The exasperation of being unable to clear a level only accentuates the fun or the joy that the player feels when he/she finally clears a level.

Hence, it was important to introduce mechanics that were simple, so that the player can focus on the core gameplay, yet still


This was a game suited to all types of players. The simple game mechanics is meant to be easy to teach and convince other players to join. Without this kind of simple game mechanics, Pico Park could easily scare novice players away. By using only the basic player movements, players would not avoid the game because of a lack of skill.

#37 cooperation

As previously noted, this game was meant to be played with friends so that you can strengthen your bonds. It could also be played with strangers, as the time or sensitive gameplay controls naturally causes people to lower their inhibition and pleasantries.

The tasks must be completed with the help of every player in the game, which contributes to the need for communication.

#52 puzzle

The puzzles that were created layered on the need for communication. For example, at certain levels, strings were added, connecting the players and allowed them to pull their fellow players by moving along. This helped them to drop players down to collect items, such as coins and keys. By doing so, they would be able to prevent their fellow players from dying and resetting the levels.


Pico Park is an extremely interesting and popular game, which fascinates me because it was clearly developed on a shoestring budget. It showed me that there isn’t a need to overspend, but there is a need to really focus on how the game mechanics work and how they come together to create a cohesive playing experience.

Here’s some extra gameplay demo:

Alice: Madness Returns

Alice: Madness Returns is an action-adventure game developed by independent studio Spicy Horse and released by Electronic Arts in 2011, based on the well-known tale Alice in Wonderland, but with much darker settings. It is the sequential to American McGee’s Alice. It is an amazing game of incredible world design incorporating a highly completed aesthetic system which ties the map, the character and objects perfectly into a cohesive and immersive experience for the player, with a simple yet captivating mechanism that challenges both the actions and puzzle-solving skills of the player.

The Elemental Tetrad


The main character, Alice Liddle, was a girl suffering from mental illness due to the loss of family in a fire. Due to her medical conditions, she was kept in a psychiatric clinic after the fire, and then stayed in an orphanage under Dr. Angus Bumby’s custody. The main story line of the game takes place in two worlds – the real world and the wonderland where Alice would fall into when her illness relapsed, with the latter one being the main background for the gameplay.


The main mechanics of the game is action-based which sometimes incorporates puzzles. The player controls Alice in a third-person prospective to move, jump or attack the monsters. The game is divided into different chapters which contain visually stimulating maps of stylistic themes. To complete each chapter, the player needs to control Alice to explore and then follow the path in the map, jumping around platforms and dodging traps, while fighting monsters emerged from the wonderland. The most interesting part of the mechanism is the settings of the obstacles and enemies which the player can overcome by tackling the different abilities and weapons that Alice possesses. For example, Alice is able to shrink (same as the setting in the original tale) after drinking the magical medicine, which allows her to enter places with limited space, and also allows her to see things invisible to normal creatures such as hidden platforms. Additionally, Alice would collect different weapons along her way, from the close-range melee Vorpal Blade, the long-range gun Pepper Grinder, to the grenade like Clockwork Bomb, with each of them in designed stylistically that fits perfectly into to the dark fantastic world setting. The player needs to strategically switches between weapons fighting monsters. Sometimes, weapons are also used to activates triggers so to open up certain paths. For example, the player would need to put Clockwork Bomb on a trigger and get to the door before it explodes, while shrinking to see the invisible platforms.

Using Pepper Grinder to shoot the eye of the tea pot
Different weapons and customs


The aesthetics of the game is completely awe-striking, with there being various themes for the maps in different chapters, each with its own appeal. From the surreally beautiful card bridge in the sky to the nauseous castle made up of flesh and organs, the player can literally have the experience of falling from the heaven to the hell in one second. The artists made use of different elements that complement each theme to design the architecture, the natural environment, the traps, the objects and enemies so as to provide the players with an immersive experience to the highest degree as if they have gone into the wonderland themselves. The changing themes also ensures that the player would never get bored even with such a long gameplay time. Rather, the player can always expect something new moving into a new chapter, as if each chapter is like entering into a different world. As the main setting of the game is on the darker side, there are more chapters with themes that can make certain players uncomfortable, such as the Doll House which pictures an abandoned slum with creepy dolls that can almost trigger the Uncanny Valley reaction. Yet for players like myself who are into gothic styles, this is absolutely beautiful (and gross at the same time).

It is worth noting that besides the majority of the game being 3D, in the chapter of Oriental theme, the game in which the player goes into a scroll of picture in which there are similar platforms and triggers like the ones outside, but all in 2D. This illustrates how the game designer makes use of different aesthetics to achieve the same action-based gameplay to make the game more enjoyable yet still consistent.


There are no exceptional technological breakthrough about the game as the game mechanism mainly involves simple movement of jumping and running, and the weapon attack is also rudimentary. However, the graphics of the game is considerably realistic and appealing in the time when the game was released.

The Lens of Elegance

The game has a simple mechanism that is intuitive to learn – find and follow the path, while clearing obstacles that hinders one to do so, yet with deliberate design of the maps, it is able to give the player an enjoyable experience. The levels are set such that the player would need to find the most suitable weapon or skill to use in order to proceed with the game. Along the gameplay, there will be some new elements introduced such as new weapons, but the total number of weapons or skills will still remain small and easy to remember. The complexity of the game is achieved through designing the levels cleverly with similar basic structures instead of giving the player too many things to remember.

The Lens of Curiosity

One major element about the game that intrigues the player is the different themes of the maps, as the player can expect each map to be in a different theme – Underwater world, Card Bridge, Oriental World, etc. After the completion of each chapter, the player would be curious about what the design of the next chapter would be, just like Alice who follows the rabbit into the wonderland, wondering what kind of world the rabbit is heading to.

The Lens of Story

The story of the game is not that interesting, except for its dark theme as contrasted to the original story. The main storyline can be explained in a few sentences, and the story is revealed to the player progressively as the player completes each chapter, in cutscenes of a few minutes. There is no drastic character confrontation or very unexpected twist of the story. Additionally, as the cutscenes are played in between gameplay which lasts for hours, it is easy for the player to forget about the last cutscene when watching a new one. However, besides the real life storyline, the player also witnesses the destruction of the wonderland through the gameplay, mirroring the destruction of Alice’s inner world of imagination as she falls back to the reality, which is more subtle but also more impressive.

The Lens of Time

With an average length of 14 hours to finish the whole game, this game gives the player an immersive experience in the world of wonderland. There will be multiple autosave checkpoints in each chapter before and after the player completes each small task, which can take up to 30 minutes, or 10 minutes for the shorter ones. Instead of a casual game that the player can play on the way to work or in between breaks, or game that can be saved at any time, the game requires the player’s attention for a long time in order to have the best experience.


If you have not played it, please give it a try. This is absolutely amazing.

Marvel Snap

Main cover art of Marvel Snap

Marvel Snap is a free-to-play digital card game for Windows, Android and IOS. Released on October 18 2022, the game won best mobile game of the year at the game awards. There are over 200 cards released, with new cards added regularly during updates. Former hearthstone developers were heavily involved in making this game.

Elemental Triad:

Even though there is not really a written story to this game, the mechanics, aesthetics, and technology work very well together to form a common theme.

Marvel Snap Gameplay


Unlike a typical game of lowering the opponent’s health bar, this 1 player versus 1 player card battler game has unique rules for winning. There are 3 locations which are areas where players can play their cards.  Each player can play cards to increase their power in the location. At the end of the game, the player with the highest power wins the location and the player with the most won locations wins the game.  A typical game lasts 6 turns and every turn a player has 1 more mana than the previous turn, starting with 1 mana in turn 1.

The rank progression system involves earning cubes. Win a full game to earn 2 cubes. If the opponent retreats, the player earns 1 cube. Double the cube gain or lost by snapping, which it is just pressing the cube icon at the top of screen. For every 10 cubes earned, the player enters a new rank and earns new rewards.

Art variant of Captain Marvel


As a Marvel game, it features characters and locations from Marvel Comics Universal. The cards are beautifully drawn and there are art variants of all the characters to collect. The aesthetics are very well designed and fit into the theme, the superpowers of the heroes are reflected well in their card effects. Wolverine, who has healing powers in the comics, have a card effect that plays him if he discarded or destroyed. Animations for the effects are short and awesome to look at. The only lacking component is the music, as the game has the same one track.  


The game runs smoothly on mobile and Windows. Even though the windows port could be improved further, as players have problems opening some inbox notifications.


There is no written story for the game. However, by playing the game, the player can interpret their own story. There are three locations, and the player sends heroes against other player’s heroes in those locations. Winning that location can make the player feel like they are heroes saving the city.

Mindscape – a location in Marvel Snap

Lens of rules

With the unique rules for winning, comes wacky and interesting effects that can change the way you play the game.  From turn 1 to 3, one of the three locations will reveal its effect. The Bar with No Name has an effect of whoever has the least Power here wins. This discouraged players from playing cards with positive power here. Mindscape swaps hands with opponent, Weirdworld draws from your opponent’s deck, this can completely change your game plan. The Vault, Miniaturized Lab, Kyln, only allows player to play cards on certain turns, players need to plan and decide if they should give up or contest the location. Limbo adds turn 7 to the game and TVA ends the game at turn 4. This affects players with combo decks as they need to unleash their combos early or late. The rules of the game stay the same, but it feels different every game as locations and cards interaction changes the dynamics of the game. With over 30 locations and over 200 cards, the game has high replay value and tons of fun.

Devil Dinosaur – a card in Marvel Snap

Lens of competition

Players build their own deck and come up with strategies to win the game. There are many different meta decks such as On Reveal, Ongoing, Zoo, etc. For example, there is a deck that is built around the Devil Dinosaur card. Devil dinosaur gains +2 power for each card in your hand. Moon girl duplicates cards in your hand. Playing them one after the other results in a powerful combo. This powerful combo can be countered by playing Enchantress which is a card that remove the Devil Dinosaur buff. Experienced players know their decks’ strengths and weaknesses. They can also tell what the opponent might be up to after a few turns. Knowing when to retreat and when to snap is crucial in climbing far high up the ladder.

Upgrading a card in Marvel Snap

Lens of visible progress

Collecting cards to add to the deck is an awesome part of progression. The game has battle pass and mission which gives the players free credits. Credits are then used to upgrade cards visually. The card upgrades goes like this: New Frame -> 3D art -> Animation -> Shiny Logo -> Animated Frame -> Purplish Animated Frame. As the player upgrades their cards, they gained collection levels which is used to unlock new cards. It feels amazing to add new card to the collection and I always cannot wait to see what new card I unlock next. However, there are controversy around how the latest cards are being added to the game. To unlock the newest cards, the player need to be at the very high collection level, and it is still up to chance to unlock it. Some calling this game the first uncollectable collectable card game.

Lens of play testing

The PVP card involves tons of play testing to balance the power of the cards. Cards such as Leader is extremely strong and requires little to no skills to play it. Nerfs and buffs to the digital cards are common and are expected. To ensure the game has longevity, the developers require constant feedback from the communities and players. Right now there are some locations which are generally unfun, such as Lechuguilla, Subterranea which shuffle useless rock into the player decks. Many players gave feedback about this, however the developers seemed to not take it into account. Time will tell if Marvel Snap will become a truly great card game or just live in the shadow of Hearthstone.

The Last of Us Part 1


The Last of Us Part 1 is an action-adventure game developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment in 2022. It is a remake of The Last of Us launched in 2013, and the winner of over 200 Game of the Year awards, with improved gameplay and visuals.

The Elemental Tetrad


Set 20 years after a pandemic has changed civilisation, infected humans run wild and survivors kill each other for essential resources. Joel is hired to smuggle a 14-year-old girl, Ellie, out of an oppressive military quarantine zone, but what starts as a small job soon transforms into a brutal journey across the United States.


The Last of Us Part 1 main gameplay mechanic is combat as you fight against human and infected enemies while playing as Joel or Ellie. The combat feels tense and nerve-wracking in many moments with the well-designed layout of the levels and combat animations. The game provides various ways for combat through the choice of weapon (ranged and melee) and stealth, all of which will give players different outcomes. Furthermore, there is a distinct difference when playing Joel and Ellie. The combat of each character is unique and tells you more about their character which plays a huge role in empathising with their characters throughout the entire story. The gameplay video below shows a glimpse of the combat in The Last of Us Part 1.



The Last of Us Part 1 provides an immersive experience from the very first scene through the end credits with the detailed and rich post-apocalyptic world Naughty Dog has created. The emotions of the characters hit harder with detailed facial animations regardless of whether it’s in a cutscene or during gameplay. The gameplay video below showcases a glimpse of the amazing aesthetics the game will offer.



The Last of Us Part 1 is completely rebuilt from the ground up using Naughty Dog’s latest PS5 engine technology with advanced visual fidelity, fully integrated DualSense wireless controller features and more.


The Lens of Emotion (#1)

The Last of Us Part 1 is sure to bring players on an emotional rollercoaster ride. Fear, happiness, sorrow, disgust. The entire gameplay will definitely evoke all these emotions. The environment, character facial animations and music all played a pivotal role in further elevating these emotions by making players feel immersed throughout the gameplay. The gameplay video below shows a glimpse of one of the most emotional scenes in the game.


The Lens of Challenge (#38)

There are six levels of difficulty; very light, light, moderate, hard, survivor and grounded. Apart from making enemies more aggressive as the difficulty is increased, resources such as ammo and pickups become extremely scarce. Based on your current supplies, the game will work out how many supplies to provide and spawn them throughout the game. This is a subtle way to manage difficulty using Dynamic Difficulty Adjustment (DDA). If the players hoard supplies, then the game will not supply them with any more resources. However, this also shows the cons of using DDA as players can exploit this by using the resources as often as possible to obtain more resources.

The Lens of Imagination (#51)

The Last of Us Part 1 has the most effectively terrifying death sequences that I have experienced in my opinion. Most games end up with less by showing more. However, The Last of Us Part 1 death cutscenes shows us less, cutting to a black screen right before Joel’s face is ripped to shreds (see gameplay clip below) or before Ellie’s neck is ripped out into stringy fibres of the meat and because of this, the death sequences in the game evokes a sense of fear of what our imagination fills the gap with as opposed to completely being desensitized to the sight of a shredded human body. The mind fears what it does not know and combined with terrifying sound effects, the gameplay becomes even more immersive due to the nature of desperation during combat encounters in The Last of Us Part 1.


The Lens of Story Machine (#73)

The Last of Us Part 1 is a linear narrative. One of the core foundations of game design is to make the player feels like their choices matter and how can it do so in a linear narrative game like The Last of Us Part 1. Almost all games tackle this by giving player choice during gameplay. In the case of The Last of Us Part 1, you have the freedom of weapons to craft and scavenge for supplies. However, these choices do not affect the narrative of the game. With the success of games that involve players in branching storylines like Mass Effect or Heavy Rain, the direction that gaming seems to be headed in is giving players a say and where the story goes. In the case of The Last of Us Part 1, the player is not meant to be Joel or Ellie in this linear story. Joel and Ellie are themselves. Playing the game is only meant to serve as a window into their thoughts and emotions. Therefore, in the case of The Last of Us Part 1, the narrative being linear is not a negative. It is a more powerful way of vicariously experiencing the story through Joel and Ellie.


Although there are some cons to the game design of The Last of Us Part 1, some of these cons are actually justified and the pros of the game outweigh far more. The Last of Us Part 1 is one of those games that we have to play through at least once and appreciate the amount of thought behind making the game.