Alina of the Arena - Switch Review

"I love this game."

Alina of the Arena - Switch Review
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Roguelikes are one of my favourite game genres. I only found out about the genre in depth after I was already an adult, but once I started to dive into them, I was hooked. A good roguelike might just be the most addicting type of game to play nowadays. And Alina of the Arena is addicting in huge spades.

It’s the second game published by PINIX, and it makes a great impression on me, to the point where I’m very curious about them. Alina of the Arena is a satisfying, bloody deck building roguelike tactics game with a lot of ingredients that fit together into one heck of a meal.

The Good: Are you entertained?!

The best way to talk about Alina of the Arena is to draw some comparisons to its inspirations. The game clearly borrows plenty of ideas from Slay the Spire in the best way possible, mixing roguelike progression with deckbuilding. But the game isn’t all about winning: it’s about putting on a show!

Alina isn’t fighting all by herself: a big mechanic of the game is that each encounter happens in a packed arena, and the crowd’s favour matters. The crowd will react positively to flashy and impressive turns by throwing money, items and weapons to their favourite gladiator, and Alina will have more cards to choose from if she puts on a good show.

What this means is that the game encourages the player to get bold and extravagant, and it’s very fun. The feedback of hitting your enemies with a combo and hearing the crowd go wild is addicting, making even the small arena seem like the centre of the world.

That said, it’s not easy to keep the show going. Alina of the Arena starts slow, but quickly demands that the player come up with a strategy. Movement is limited, and Alina is always outnumbered or outgunned by the other gladiators. The game rewards planning ahead and playing to your strengths, much like the Tactics genre it dips its toes in.

And even with good planning, Alina of the Arena is as challenging as any good roguelike should be. Even on regular difficulty, there are plenty of encounters within the arena that are more than deadly, and the player can really crank up the challenge if they want, be it through higher difficulty or through a particular item setup.


  • Addicting gameplay loop
  • Satisfying feedback to the player
  • Rewarding to play smartly
  • Engaging and varied difficulties

The Bad: What else is there in life?

I think the biggest problem with Alina of the Arena is the same problem the best indie games have: It’s not enough. There are only 3 arenas to go through, and each of them holds only a handful of different events and encounters, on top of being the same size and layout. The bosses and mini-bosses all have unique mechanics, but there are only a few of them to find.

All of this means that despite having the variation and RNG that are key to a good roguelike, there is a point where any run of Alina of the Arena becomes a bit predictable. What we were given is incredible, but it really could have used some extra map variety or some form of extra gimmick to spice up runs, more cards and more enemies. 

On top of that, Alina of the Arena has, essentially, no story to speak of. And it would be fine if it focused just on the extremely fun gameplay, but the game is filled with details here and there that paint a very interesting picture. Items, event descriptions and what little dialogue exists make me hunger for just a little bit of exploration, but those hopes are not met. It doesn’t ruin the game, but there is an itch that just isn’t scratched.

Finally, the game has some minor but very annoying glitches on the Switch version that I hope are fixed soon. On occasion, in the middle of combat, the game will ignore mandatory selection inputs and create a softlock. The only way to get through it is to close and restart the game which will end the combat - a big problem in Gladiator mode, where runs cannot be saved before victory.


  • Too little variety for a roguelike
  • Lack of story/dialogue despite having an interesting world
  • Minor but annoying glitches on the Switch

Final Score: 8/10

I love this game. It’s one of the most addicting, simple-yet-fun roguelikes I’ve experienced in a long time and it’s exactly because I loved it so much that it upsets me how little of it there is. Alina of the Arena is definitely a must play for any roguelike or tactics fan, and I have absolutely no reservations saying that.

The studio that published it, PINIX, is a Taiwanese studio with only two games to their name, including this one, but Alina of the Arena immediately put them on my radar. I’ll be waiting patiently for whatever they cook up next, because this was delicious.

Thank you for checking out our Alina of the Arena Switch review, thank you to DANGEN Entertainment for providing the review code and thank you to our Patreon Backers for their ongoing support: