On your way to defeat the Six Wings of Hell, you’ll meet plenty of different enemies, as well as fighters to acquire and new cards and relics to get. There are also a bunch of events, a shop, and a camp to rest at or level up one of your cards.
Inquisitor is the name of your Hero. This is your strongest fighter and he can’t be swapped out. Every circle, you will be able to level him up and chose one of three upgrades for him (each with different skills, abilities, and stats). At the moment, you win the run after beating the third circle’s boss.
Every Circle is a new map with different routes, just like in Slay the Spire, Monster Train, and similar games of the deckbuilder genre.
You start with your Hero and two Undead units. The reward for winning a normal battle is gold and a new card (which you can skip and take +10 gold for it). If you win an elite battle, you also get a new relic. Reliques will give you bonuses such as “Draw a card when an enemy dies” or “The cost of the first card of your starting hand gets reduced by 1”. Because of that, they can be game-changing.
The maximal level of units at the moment is level three. Your party also consists of three fighters. After beating a circle you’ll get a special relic, giving you 1+ slot in your party, +1 energy per turn, or drawing +1 card every turn. Energy is used to play cards. Each turn you start with three energy.
In the shop. you can buy cards, relics, or fighters or remove cards for gold but there are also events letting you do all that.
Your turn starts with a hand of cards to play. If you end your turn, the battle starts. This is an auto-battler which means you can’t directly control units and just let it happen. Every 7 seconds the game will pause, letting you draw new cards. After your turn, the battle goes on.
If all of your units die in a battle, the run is over. Every run gives you EXP. After every new level, you unlock a new card, relic, or fighter, ready to be found in a new run.
At the moment, there are buffs and debuffs like shield, silence, endurance, might, and a few more. Experienced players of the genre will know most of them but they are also explained, so don’t be afraid if you’re new to the genre or just not so experienced.
Right now, the balance is a bit off. Some buffs or debuffs feel like they aren’t worth it. Some strategies are just more promising and almost work against all enemies. To name one, I just buffed my units with shields (cards, skills of my units, and relics supported it) and hold it out long enough to build up a lot of them. One of my units also supported them with healing and protection.
This way, I worked my way easily to the third circle. Shortly before the last boss, I encounter the first enemy whose skill is to destroy shields. So yeah, my tactic wasn’t that helpful anymore but luckily, building up my shields was way faster.
Nevertheless, the game is hard enough right now. Getting that strategy to work took me a few tries and hours and I’m a more experienced player in the genre. Also, I have to admit, that I was a bit lucky by getting exactly what I needed.
Furthermore, the game needs more content. One Hero is just not enough and fighters, as well as enemies, also need more variety. There are a few different types of cards (spells, tactics, etc.), but it mostly comes out the same. There is one card letting you push a unit all over the battlefield in one direction. This opens up new strategies and the game needs more of that, instead of giving X of Y and doing X damage.
But this is Early Access and looking at the roadmap, the developers promise a lot to be added down the line (3 new heroes and over 400 cards, 100 relics, 40 fighters, and 40 enemies in total). I played the game last year when it was in alpha and they showed, that they can keep their word.
Hadean Tactics already offers a solid base to become one of the best games of its genre. It delivers the same feeling of addiction the most successful deckbuilders do. If they add more content and balance it out a bit more, this won’t be a hidden gem anymore. Definitely check it out!