Slay the Spire finally hit the App Store, and—as great as it is—the mobile version leaves quite a bit to be desired. This prompted us here to look back at all mobile games that have come out of the explosion of card-based roguelites that have been releasing in recent years and pick the top five games in that particular niche.
If you want to hold off on buying Slay the Spire for your phone (which we suggest you do), check out these other great titles that can deliver a similar experience. If you’re looking for some other great mobile games to play, click here to check out all the other top lists we’ve been making lately.
Card of Darkness is an elegant and unique card-based roguelite that is equal parts charming and challenging. Unlike most other titles on this list, there isn’t much deck-building here. Instead, the dungeons you’re questing through are made out of cards, and you have to strategically pick up weapons, potions, and enemies in an order that allows you to make it out alive.
The game is deceptively deep and is constantly throwing new kinds of cards and mechanics your way, ensuring that it never grows too repetitive. This is what solidifies Card of Darkness as a standout Apple Arcade title and one of the best card-based roguelites out there.
If I were to recommend just one game from this list for people to try, it would definitely be Void Tyrant. It’s an easy sell both because it’s free-to-play (with a single purchase to unlock the full game) and it uses the familiar rules of Blackjack for its combat system, not to mention the fact that it’s simply one of the most varied and creative mobile dungeon-crawlers I’ve ever played.
The key to Void Tyrant’s success is its two deck system, where players craft and hone a deck of skills and abilities that allow them to manipulate numbered cards that determine both you and your enemy’s attack power. There’s no other deck-builders that look even remotely like this, so definitely make sure you check it out.
Meteorfall: Journey is a good stand-in if you’re looking for something like Slay the Spire more specifically, though in a more mobile-friendly format. This game distills deck-building dungeon-crawling down to its bare essentials, to the point that you only have one card in your hand at a time.
In a way, this makes Meteorfall also feel akin to something like Reigns, but instead of speaking with folks, you’re fighting monsters and choosing whether to use attacks/abilities or saving your strength for future draws. Though it sounds really simple, Meteorfall provides plenty of variety and has received tons of support since release, making it one of the most polished and replayable experiences on this list.
A general complaint I have about deck-building games is that sometimes the process of honing your deck takes too long. Card Crusade is one of the few experiences in this genre that doesn’t have this problem. Within just a couple encounters or treasure finds, it’s easy to make drastic changes to the composition of your deck and the tools at your disposal.
This game is another easy title to recommend, as it recently went free-to-play. The only in-app purchases available are to unlock new characters, which can further vary your experience with this speedy deck-building title.
This list would not be complete without including the OG roguelite deck-builder on mobile. Sure, it may look rough—terrible even—but Dream Quest was a pioneering title in this genre when it released back in 2014, and many of the games on this list (and in this genre generally) likely took some inspiration from it.
Aside from the crude art, everything in Dream Quest is remarkably well designed. It’s no wonder that the creator of the game, Peter Whalen, went on to join Blizzard as a designer for Hearthstone. Make sure to check this game out, particularly if you are interested in exploring some of the of this genre’s history on mobile.