The Last Spell is a tactical RPG with rogue-lite mechanics. You are tasked with protecting the last sliver of humanity from the monsters in the mist. Can you hold out until the mages can cast the final spell?
In an attempt to end all wars, an archmage created the most powerful spell from unknown magic to defeat their enemy. They cast it on one of the enemy’s cities. This only resulted in the enemy using the same spell against them. Soon everyone was using this unknown magic until there was nearly nothing left. A mist formed around the few remaining cities. At night, creatures from the mist would attack the survivors.
The last of the mages banned together to find a way to fight off the mist that they had created. They found a way. It was The Last Spell. It is the job of the remaining fighters in each town to protect the mages so that they can perform this last spell and banish all magic from the world. Only then will the world be free from the mist and the creatures that are in it.
There are two main phases. Each round has a day phase and a night phase. During the day phase, the player must manage their resources to prepare for the night phase. At night, the player must defend what is left of the city from the attacking monster horde.
Managing resources is very important as there aren’t very many to go around. Luckily there is a nice Commander’s Journal that lists all of the tasks that can be done during the day. Some of these tasks include leveling characters, spending tainted essence, constructing buildings, and erecting defenses. There is also a confirmation if the player missed any of the tasks before moving on to the night phase.
The character sheets are pretty in-depth and have an excellent RPG feel to them. Each character comes with three random traits. These can be positive, negative, or a little bit of both. For example, there might be an Orc Blooded Dancer who has bonuses to physical damage, move and dodge stats, but they also have Vulnerable that gives them low resistance. Each character’s portrait can be modified to the player’s liking. Everything from nose and mouth to eyebrows and complexion. One of the coolest features of the portrait is that players can generate a code unique to that character. They can import that code into other games or even send it to their friends so they can import custom portraits into their own games.
Each character also has many stats that can be modified as they level up. These include stats like damage, critical, and accuracy as well as secondary stats like reliability and stun chance. The gear and weapons that can be equipped to each character can modify these primary and secondary stats as well. The gear is not locked to any specific class, so the player can mix all armor and weapon types. The player can min-max a build as much as they want or go for something like a battle mage with a wand in one hand and a shield in the other.
After leveling up the characters and equipping them with new gear, it might be a good idea to repair some structures or build new ones. Some buildings can create more gear for the characters or even an Inn where new characters can be hired if some were lost during the last battle. But more importantly, defensive structures can be built around the city to help with fending off the horde. Different tiers of walls can be built to keep things out. Some many traps and weapons can be assembled to help maintain the waves of creatures.
Once the characters and defenses are set, it’s time for the night phase. In the night phase, players must do their best to battle off the waves of creatures that are trying to get into the center of town to destroy the mage that is casting the final spell. There are several rounds per night until the sun rises. Then the final monsters must be defeated before the day phase starts again. After the last monster is defeated, a battle report is shown for that night. The report shows the player how many of each creature type were defeated, how much experience was gained, and how many monsters each character killed. Afterward, a city protection report is revealed that shows the panic level, if the monsters got into the city, and how many resources were created. This report also shows the amount of tainted essence that was created.
Throughout the game, a meta progression slowly grows as the game is played. There are two types of meta-progression. One is directly affected by the player. This is what the tainted essence is for, which is collected after each battle. The essence is used to unlock additional content, such as new weapons, buildings, and even some character stat bonuses. The second meta progression is unlocked simply by playing the game to perform certain tasks. These tasks can be recruiting 15 heroes from the Inn to unlock better traits for the characters. Or, hitting 600 enemies with propagation skills to unlock a propagation armor set. Some of these unlocks can make a big difference in the coming battles.
The Last Spell has a very lovely pixel art style on all of its buildings, characters, and user interface. You can zoom in and out at any point in the game, and everything scales nicely. They even have an option in the display settings to be able to scale the UI. There is a disclaimer that some percentages of the UI scaling can distort some elements, but I never ran into any problems with it.
All of the animations in the game are also very appealing. It is a lot of fun to cast a spell like Lightning Strike and watch the lighting arc its way over 10 different enemies before they all get zapped and take a mass amount of damage. Even the little things like the force field around the mage that pulses on and off, look really good.
One of the biggest things for me in RPG-style games is ensuring that the character matches the gear I put on them. It is so nice to see the sword and shield that I spent all of my money on the character. In The Last Spell, they do an excellent job at making gear look unique so you can see the differences when you equip it to a character. The developers put a lot of time into the visuals in this game, and it shows.
I just got done talking about how good the visuals are in this game. I also mentioned that the player could zoom in and out. The player can zoom out to see the entire battlefield, but they cannot zoom in very far. The lack of being able to zoom in closer has two drawbacks for me. The first is that I cannot get in close to really examine and enjoy the look of my characters and all the crazy monsters that are attacking this poor city. The second drawback is that I cannot get in close to see which character is which. Sometimes it is hard to tell who is who in the heat of battle when there are 50 or so monsters on the field. This results in forcing the player to tab through their characters until they get to the one they are looking for.
This also brings up another problem that I ran into with the camera. I was not able to find any rotate camera options in the controls. This made it hard to see or select targets. There were several times that I had a monster in the town that I didn’t know about because it was hidden behind a structure, and there was no option to rotate the camera around to see it.
One of the things I liked a lot about the game was that each character starts off with random stats that really make each character feel unique. The one thing that ruined that for me was that the weapon sets didn’t always match up with the character’s traits. I would often have to swap the weapons around after getting a new set of characters because the gal with the highest physical damage was rocking a short bow.
Along those same lines, I felt a little discouraged from customizing and getting attached to each of my characters. I was half expecting these to be the heroes I had for the whole game, going from town to town to protect each mage. Then I found out that I had to get a new batch of random characters at each new town instead. Thematically I suppose it might make sense, but personally, I didn’t want to invest in characters that I was only going to use for ten nights and have to move on.
I’m just going to come out and say it. Did I love the game, no. Did I enjoy the game? Yes. There were certain things that I did not like about the game. Those things listed above all added up to me having a hard time loving the battles, which is a big part of the game. When you are fighting around 100 monsters a night, and you are killing maybe 15 per round, more if you are burning through all your mana, then it can feel a little daunting, especially when you are just going to have to do the exact same thing the next night.
That being said. I like the meta progression in the game and wanted to see what the next gear to unlock was. I liked the boss fights and wanted to see what the next terrible monster could be. So, if you are a big fan of tactical RPGs and enjoy rogue-lite mechanics, and also like longer, drawn-out and thought-provoking battles, then check out The Last Spell. See if you can save the last remains of civilization before the hordes of monsters destroy what little is left.
Disclaimer: The key for The Last Spell was generously provided by Ishtar Games.