Let’s say you wanted to bring early spring to life with a simplistic fantasy game, which would you choose? A friend asked me this question and made me remember pain and joy Darkest Dungeon. I put over a hundred hours into this beautiful time vampire, managing to finish it before any quality of life updates were made, such as a simplified campaign. What can I say, I like controlled suffering and I like nasty surprises.

A buddy of mine feels the same way, so I immediately suggested The Last Spell for his next fix. This turn-based simplistic tactical tower defense RPG will make anyone scream and cheer in equal measure. Conceptually, it’s a far cry from Darkest Dungeon, but they’re spiritual siblings in the way they affect the player. Both games require a large dose of luck and a great deal of stoic patience. If you’re into this kind of BDSM, The Last Spell will get your juices flowing. If not, shout out the safe word and never look back.

A spell to end all spells

Last Spell 01

The world of The Last Incantation is bleak. Confused magicians played a stupid game and won a stupid prize, bringing destruction to the human world. The spell that was supposed to end all wars caused a cataclysm, engulfing the kingdom in a deadly purple mist. Like any magical mist worth its salt, this one is full of monsters. To solve the problem, the mages must now try to banish all magic from the world, which is supposed to extinguish the mist and the horrors that emanate from it. To do this, they must perform a series of continuous spells in key settlements. Guess who will try to buy time for it?

The premise of the last spell is simple. Monsters appear at night, focusing on the magic circle in the center of the settlement. Leading your small team, you must defeat the waves while trying to minimize damage to property and your operatives. During the day, you’ll be licking your wounds, building the economy and defenses, as well as recruiting and logistics. The campaign consists of several cities, each of which is a separate entity in terms of progress. This means you won’t lose everything if you fail, you’ll just need to restart that particular city. But even if you lose three to five hours this way, meta-progression ensures that you’ll have an easier time the next time you try.

Procedurally generated

Final spell review

The Last Spell is a game with many, many variables and lots of room for experimentation and customization. Gear and weapons for your guys are the most important factor, as the “classes” are completely fluid. A caster can instantly become a ranger or bruiser if you equip them with a bow/crossbow or an axe, sword, hammer or spear. You can specialize your people as you level up, choosing special bonuses such as increased melee damage. The options offered are completely random, so the luck factor plays a big role in the development of each fighter. The same randomness determines the available loot created in the workshops, won as a nightly reward or bought in the shop. More often than not, you’ll have to make the best of a bad setup, desperately improvising to stay on top of a crisis.

A healthy economy is the backbone of your efforts. Building and upgrading gold mines and scavenger workshops allows for gold and materials. Gold buys weapons, armor, trinkets, people, and buildings, but materials are needed to set up defenses. Without walls, ballistae, watchtowers, catapults, and mines, you won’t get very far because there’s only so much your fighters can do. Building a smart, multi-layered defense isn’t easy, as each settlement has four sides to defend. Also, there are limits to how many weapons you can place on the field, etc.

More holes than fingers

Last Spell 02

Juggling limited resources is fun when you’re dealing with logistics, but it’s doubly fun when you’re using troops in combat. With max upgrades you can field up to six fighters, but you’ll have to settle for half that early on. If you don’t manage to keep up with the escalation, you’ll soon be facing an attack from four different directions, with three people at the same time. The worst part of every night is that you can’t just hold off the hordes until dawn, waiting for glorious Gandalf and the Riders of Rohan; A new day comes only when you wipe the map of all mutants to the last one.

Villains come in all shapes and sizes, some worse than others. On the second map, around six o’clock at night, a particularly nasty monster appears, throwing rocks that stun your people. They remain stunned the entire time and are easily killed by a single shot by the same crowd who impolitely wait for the referee to count to ten. It’s incredibly easy to lose fighters in this game. Recruiting fresh faces for money you can’t afford to waste isn’t ideal.

Another punishing variable is urban panic. If any mob breaks through the outer defenses and survives your turn inside the city, the panic counter will increase. Each Panic Threshold lowers the resource bonus you receive after each completed night, further sinking you into the pit of failure.

Meta progress makes things easier

Last Spell 03

As with many rogue-like games, The Last Spell gets progressively easier with each defeat. Meta-progression involves two types of enhancements that are granted to you by mysterious dark and light deities. Dealing with the Dark Lady involves selling the “Tainted Essence” you get after battles. You can also collect some from corpses during the day, but this uses the same pool of workers you need for most logistics. The things and upgrades you buy with essence are too numerous to list – weapons, buildings, power-ups, pretty much anything that matters. The Light Lady works as an achievement repository, unlocking rewards after certain thresholds are reached. Equip enough people with crossbows, for example, and you’ll get a greater variety of them to spawn as loot.

The last spell will make you screech like a crimson feather. Some people prefer their games to be this way, but if you want a more casual experience, you can play in “unlimited” mode. In this mode, you can use all the Omens you’ve unlocked without limits. These are powerful buffs of various types, and enabling more than the default, just a few of them can make the game a lot easier.

Should a game make you suffer (sometimes)? Of course! We have to give the Soulsborne editions credit for making the heartache inflicted more acceptable. Terrible little gremlins like The Last Spell can thrive in their wake, and that’s really great.


  • The perfect blend of fantasy tactics, turn-based RPG, and tower defense.
  • Lots of combat variables and options to equip your squad and build defensive structures.
  • Retro graphics that don’t suck.


  • Brutal difficulty unless you choose to play in “unlimited” mode (cheat).
  • Some UI glitches when playing at 1440p on PC.