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Dark fantasy RPG gets Hades style roguelike spin-off, out now on Steam

Penny Blood Hellbound is a roguelike twist on the dark fantasy, alternate history RPG where you take control of six powerful Hellhounders.

Penny Blood: Hellbound is a roguelike twist on the upcoming dark fantasy RPG - Clara, a pretty tanned woman with blonde space buns and multicolored tips hanging down either side of her face, clutching a pink baseball bat.

We might not get our hands on the gothic horror of Penny Blood’s alternate-history 1920s RPG until 2025, but you can play its Hades style roguelike spin-off right now. Out today, Thursday March 7, via Steam Early Access, Penny Blood Hellbound brings us an early and vibrant taste of the supernatural Studio Wildrose RPG, a spiritual successor to the beloved classic PS2 Shadow Hearts series, which saw its Kickstarter funding goal exceeded less than one day after it first launched.

Penny Blood: Hellbound is more than a simple promotional trick; this is a full-blown action adventure from NatsumeAtari and Studio Wildrose that draws inspiration from the best roguelike games, although Supergiant Games’ mega-hit Hades is likely to be the most familiar comparison. As the Hellhounders, a band of uniquely equipped anarchists trapped in an interdimensional prison, it’s up to you to navigate the fallout of World War I and the roaring ‘20s, encountering alternate-history equivalents of real-world figures.

Each of the Hellhounders has their own distinctive weapons and skills, and they’ll head out from the hub that is their prison cell trapped between the timelines, each run furthering your potential for success. You’ll have five characters to choose from at launch, with a sixth due to be added during the early access period, which the team is hoping to last until the summer of 2024, when the full game will be complete.

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The early access launch also marks the arrival of the game’s third location, the Japanese horror themed Daidouji Temple, complete with its own boss encounter, plenty of new enemies, and four additional NPCs. Two of these join Hellbound’s roster of ‘dungeon NPCs’ – companions that fight alongside you in battle, bringing their own set of skills to the table – while the other two are ‘facility NPCs’ that will offer you accessories and a gambling mini-game available between runs.

Along with all manner of charms, amulets, and upgrades making each run feel distinct, the combat of Penny Blood: Hellbound is enhanced by its ‘bloodsurf’ mechanic, which lets you speed around levels by riding on the red stuff you’ve left in your wake. It also features a rather distinctive hex-based progression system, giving you even more ways to explore each region as you hone your build to take on its dangerous end-of-level boss fights.

The developer estimates that the current version of the game is “roughly 70% complete,” with the final area and boss along with the last playable character still on the way. It’s also hoping to integrate online multiplayer for the full 1.0 release, along with additional NPCs to join you and other ways to upgrade your home base.

Penny Blood: Hellbound - The 'Grey Witch' says, "And I am the Grey Witch, architect of Mictlan, leader of the Celestial Rainbow..."

Penny Blood: Hellbound is out now on Steam in early access. Expect to pay $19.99 / £16.75 if you’re looking to pick it up for yourself. Studio Wildrose says it expects the price to increase by 25% when the full version of the game releases, so if you’re interested in what you see then you can get it at a discount by jumping in early.

Alternatively, we’ve got our pick of the best JRPGs if you’re looking for something closer to Shadow Hearts to tide you over until the full Penny Blood RPG’s launch, along with the best war games if you’re after something wartime-related but perhaps a little less fantastical.

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