Hellcard is the latest deck-building roguelike adventure from Thing Trunk (Book of Demons). It is now available in Early Access on PC via Steam with publishing by Skystone Games (Undying) and Surefire Games (Riftbreaker). Players can fight through dungeons solo or co-op, upgrading and building up their deck to bring down the paper armies of darkness once again.
They May Be Paper, But They Still Do Damage in Hellcard
If you have not yet had a chance to play Book of Demons, I sincerely hope you take the time to do so. It’s a lot of fun, presents its own challenges and is easily worth the value. Knowing the fun I had in Book of Demons, I couldn’t pass up the chance to play Hellcard too. I also will be sure to check out Book of Aliens in the future. I’m sure everyone has their own game series of choice and there is no doubt that they will be playing the next rendition. Be sure to let me know what your guilty indulgent series is after the preview below.
Hellcard plays a bit differently than its predecessor. Rather than moving through a dungeon and using skills on the fly, the player descends through floors. Each floor summons its own set of enemies to defeat. Prior to entering a floor, the player chooses which destination they would like to reach after completion of that floor. Different destinations offer different possible rewards so the player must choose what suits them best. Examples of rewards include modifying existing cards, gaining new cards and artefacts that modify gameplay, or various other aids to your character. Though some rewards are free, most come with a cost of gems which are only earned by completing floors.
Each new floor presents a seemingly greater challenge in difficulty in Hellcard. Though the first boss doesn’t appear until floor six, I am finding myself at times struggling to even make it past floor five! When I first began playing it was hard not to feel overwhelmed already by floor three. The turn-based mechanics have definitely been in my favour, as I often need a few extra minutes to really evaluate what I am up against. Thankfully once I remember to evaluate each floor with more of a strategic mindset I am finding some progression.
Though still in the earlier stages of Hellcard, I have already found the enemy variety to be impressive. Not only are there a variety of enemies but also subtle conditions such as health types that modify how each must be dealt with. The positioning of enemies also plays a key role. Some ability cards deal more or less damage depending on where your foe is. There are also area of effect cards that can really save your paper skin in a pinch if you’re lucky enough to have them. Utilizing the cards of your companions (or other players using theirs in tandem during co-op) can really make or break your run.
Graphics & Audio
I really like that Hellcard features the same graphics as Book of Demons. I find the origami-style models to be fun and unique. There are just so many games now that either go full force one way or the other that it feels more like a happy medium. They aren’t retro but aren’t killing your PC trying to render either. It’s hard to make the cards look much different than other deck-builders just given the 2D aspect of them, but some subtle details still make them their own. The audio tracks also aren’t anything groundbreaking, but they really don’t have to be.
With Hellcard being a deck-building roguelike, each run presents its own challenges. I honestly expect I will be working for a while now to get to the bottom floor and would expect anyone else to as well. I also wouldn’t expect anything less from any other roguelike out there. The gameplay is challenging and fun, so I look forward to the time I have ahead with the game.
Hellcard is a great new addition to Book of Demons. Though I know Thing Trunk is also working on Book of Aliens and has a whole lineup planned for the “Return 2 Games” series, I really hope they finish up Hellcard first. Again, if you have had a chance to play Book of Demons and enjoyed it, I highly recommend supporting them through the development of Hellcard or at least picking it up after its full release. You won’t be met with disappointment.
If you enjoyed this game preview, be sure to check out my other reviews and previews here.
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.