Image: Mega Crit Games (Twitter)

Months after it first hit Steam Early Access I still enjoy dropping into Slay the Spire to see what cards I’m dealt in its procedurally generated dungeon runs. With the addition of its newest character, The Defect, I can see myself returning a lot more often.

Developer Mega Crit Games has been working on Slay the Spire’s third main character for months now, and today the studio finally made them playable in the game’s beta version. The Defect is described as an ancient combat automaton that became sentient. For all intents and purposes it plays like a mage class from other RPGs. Where Ironclad, the game’s warrior archetype, and Silent, the game’s rogue archetype, both emphasize physical attacks, Defect uses magic orbs and passive effects. It’s by far the most complicated class to use and requires a lot of planning, but it’s super rewarding when everything falls into place.

Screenshot: Kotaku (Slay The Spire)

A standard fight with Defect might go like this. You start with a regular hand of block and attack cards, but in addition there might also be one that channels or evokes. Channeling adds an orb of a specific element to one of three slots, while evoking consumes the orb to use its special ability. Any orbs that aren’t consumed use their passive ability at the end of each turn. For instance every lightning orb deals three damage to an enemy while dark orbs keep increasing the potential damage they’ll do once you finally evoke them.

Then there’s Defect’s unique library of cards. In addition to the ones geared around managing orbs, there are mech-themed ones that grow in power over a run. Genetic Algorithm only adds one block at the beginning, but every time you use it, it gets removed from play for the rest of the battle and grows by two.

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Screenshot: Kotaku (Slay The Spire)

Playing it early isn’t very useful, but it’s still an important investment to make for later down the road. Five encounters later, it’s about as powerful as a normal block card. After ten it starts to become a real life saver, especially if you’ve leveled it up to increase how much it grows each time it’s used. I’ve only played around with the character for a couple hours, but so far I’ve found Defect to be a refreshing alternative to the game’s other characters.

If you decide to try Defect out for yourself, make sure you check Mega Crit’s patch notes on how to access the beta version of the game. (Yes, there’s an Early Access version AND a beta. It’s confusing, but think of the beta simply as a test server.) Defect is the last character planned for the Early Access version of the game, but Mega Crit has committed to adding more characters once the game is officially released.