From Slay the Spire and Wildfrost to Monster Train and Cobalt Core, we’ve seen plenty of different takes on the roguelike deck builder. Hellcard, initially intended to be a short side project for developer Thing Trunk, expanded dramatically after positive initial reception. It brings its own unique spins to the table, including a positional combat system that’ll please Baldur’s Gate 3 or Like A Dragon Infinite Wealth enjoyers, and co-op with up to three players. As the team celebrates its full 1.0 release, Hellcard gets a new class and a rework to its endless mode.
While the progression structure of Hellcard – moving between encounters, choosing between various card and artifact options to upgrade your deck – will feel fairly familiar to anyone who’s played Slay the Spire or other similar deck-building roguelike games, its combat structure is rather unique. With enemy hordes coming at you from every direction on the battlefield, fights actually play out a bit more like Larian’s world-beating Dungeons and Dragons RPG, Baldur’s Gate 3.
That means monster placement can dramatically affect your strategy, with many of your attacks hitting across certain area spreads or shoving enemies across the battlefield. Coordinate your attacks well and you’ll be able to clean up even the most dangerous encounters with satisfying efficiency.
That sense of BG3-style strategy is amplified in Hellcard’s co-op mode, where up to three characters take on battles side-by-side. You can either join up with friends or strangers in online multiplayer, or bring AI-controlled companions along with you for the adventure. You’re each designated a section of the battlefield as your focus, but you’ll need to work together to succeed.
“It’s been a wild ride these last couple of years,” Thing Trunk writes in the announcement of the game’s 1.0 launch. “We initially thought that Hellcard would be a quick six-month adventure,” it explains, but says that “after the prototype became popular we knew we couldn’t just throw it together, it had to be well engineered.” The resulting full release sees a brand-new fourth class, and a reworked endless mode.
The fourth Hellcard class is the Tinkerer, and this gunpowder-loving engineer has a unique play style that starts out slower but can build up to an unstoppable snowball as fights roll on. He introduces 101 new cards, eight starter artifacts, six new outfits, and five AI Tinkerer companions. There’s even rumors of a potential fifth class on the horizon, although Thing Trunk teases, “hypothetically, if such a class were to exist, the subject matter would be classified and could not be disclosed.”
Endless mode gets a big overhaul in 1.0 too. “Endless turned out to be a very popular mode and we got a ton of feedback on it,” Thing Trunk notes. It’s come up with new ways to address the two most common issues – a plateau in difficulty past 60-80 floors, and certain modifiers making specific builds unviable in the late game. Now, you’ll get a choice from three torment modifiers every few floors, making for more dynamic and interesting difficulty pacing.
Hellcard version 1.0 is out now on Steam. To celebrate, it’s on sale for 21% off until Thursday February 8. That means you can grab a copy for just $15.79/£12.23 if it sounds up your alley – and if you have a couple of like-minded friends, it’s definitely worth a look.
Alternatively, we’ve dealt out all the best card games in 2024 so you can find a new favorite without needing to shuffle through the whole deck, and we’ve also selected the best indie games on PC right now, so you won’t miss any hidden gems.