Throne of Bone is a devilish roguelike autobattler where you play the bad guy in a skull-driven economy

As you might well know, I like a good deckbuilder—it's part of why Balatro's consumed a few dozen hours of my waking life. Sure, it's a genre utterly flooded with games, but I have a pretty high tolerance for "too much of a good thing."

The latest title to draw my infernal all-seeing eye is Throne of Bone, a deckbuilding roguelike slated for early access later today—though there's a free demo on Steam. In it, you're charged with commanding legions of the damned, waging autobattler-style warfare against your enemies.

Throne of Bone keeps your choices nice and narrow to begin. You're given four active minion slots (and two storage slots, for minions with support abilities). Pressing play has your minions attack the enemy left to right, trading damage and health ala Hearthstone. This repeats until once side is bonemeal.

To actually hire a minion, you need to pay them in skulls. Okay, technically you're summoning them, but I'd like to think you overheard that the good guys had "free dental" and took it literally. Forget stocks, molars are the future, people! Once you're done with a minion, you can sacrifice them for some extra pocket change.

Along the way you'll gather relics and spells to bolster your troops, all of which play nicely with each other. My favourite tactic from my taster session was to hoard magic spells and minions that flung arcane artillery at the start of combat—which I then paired with some zombie muscle wizards who got beefier whenever my magic attacks hit. Combined with a couple of other abilities, I was running their HP sky-high.

In true villain fashion, lost battles are merely setbacks. You have "lives" which are consumed when your armies fall flat, which is helpful, since it can be hard to gauge whether you'll actually win in an autobattler—once you push that "proceed" button, it's out of your hands. In between bouts of scheming, you'll return to your lair to rest, and are given a grid of downtime activities to choose from such as betting on fights, sparring, and reclaiming dark relics.

(Image credit: Windmill Slam)

My only real complaint so far is that the demo is a smidge content-thin—which is fine, it's a demo. However, it also means you can't get a gauge for how Throne of Bone's later rounds play out. The full game, however, is slated to have six different flavours of necromancer to sink your teeth into—so there'll be plenty of that good roguelike repetition to indulge in. Throne of Bone releases into early access today, April 8, at 6 pm GMT (11 am PST). 

Harvey Randall
Staff Writer

Harvey's history with games started when he first begged his parents for a World of Warcraft subscription aged 12, though he's since been cursed with Final Fantasy 14-brain and a huge crush on G'raha Tia. He made his start as a freelancer, writing for websites like Techradar, The Escapist, Dicebreaker, The Gamer, Into the Spine—and of course, PC Gamer. He'll sink his teeth into anything that looks interesting, though he has a soft spot for RPGs, soulslikes, roguelikes, deckbuilders, MMOs, and weird indie titles. He also plays a shelf load of TTRPGs in his offline time. Don't ask him what his favourite system is, he has too many.