FTL meets Slay The Spire in this Steam Next Fest demo

We recommended a dozen Steam Next Fest demos out the gate but that barely scratched the surface of the demo-o-rama. So after diving back into the demo pile myself, I have another recommendation for you: adventuring across the galaxy in roguelikelike spaceship deck-building dungeon-crawler Cobalt Core. If you enjoy Slay The Spire and FTL, do have a look, though I might argue that FTL’s follow-up, Into The Breach seems a stronger influence. Ah, play the demo and see for yourself!

So, you’re a rag-tag spaceship crew in a time loop, adventuring across the galaxy trying to break the cycle. Pick your route from an FTL/STS-style galaxy map, deciding to go for battle nodes, bosses, shops, mystery encounters, and such. Fights play out a lot like fighting a single enemy in Slay the Spire, with a neat twist.

Each turn, you draw a random hand of cards from your deck, and have a limited amount of energy to cast them. Cards offer abilities like immediate attacks, adding evasive moves you can use now or bank for future turns, stacking shield points that buffer you from hull damage, buffing future attacks, splurping damage-over-time effects, and so on. Also, you need to actively move out the way of incoming attacks. The battlefield is a series of lanes, with the ships of you and your enemy each stretching across several squares. Guns are attached to specific parts of ships, so you can dodge attacks by swerving your ship out of the way, but might also need to move to attack them. Sometimes you’ll find asteroids temporarily blocking lanes too, or maybe meet enemies who deploy drones to lanes.

Spaceship action in a Cobalt Core screenshot.
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Rocket Rat Games

You start each run with a fairly straightforward deck then build into interesting niches as you get new cards, upgrade cards into one of two variants, and gain artifacts. Maybe a run which spits lost of cheap little attacks which are not so little once you’ve dropped a few buffs. Maybe a tanky build which throws corrosion then sits back and watches the enemy burn down. Maybe a zippy build which creates weak points on specific blocks, and zooms around between lanes exploiting them before dashing away.

You can download Cobalt Core’s demo from its Steam page. The demo isn’t huge but it’s enough to have my interest (and wishlist) ahead of the full game’s launch on the 8th of November. The game’s also headed to Nintendo Switch, which I believe is some sort of expensive keyboard cap.

Our Indiescovery podcast gang (er, former gang?) have talked about Cobalt Core too, after playing at Pax East earlier this year.