What comes to mind when you hear the words internet, RPG, and cards? Hopefully you’ll instantly think about Card Hunter once they finish their beta phase. Don’t be fooled by the game’s in-browser structure. This is a full-fledged tactical RPG with all the fixings, and the developer’s pedigree is unmatched; many of the creators at Blue Manchu previously worked on Bioshock over at Irrational.
Card Hunter has a clever thematic hook. Rather than drop you directly in to the grid-based combat, the game plays out as a tabletop role-playing game run by your trusty gamemaster and friend, Gary. Sitting in Gary’s basement, this fledgling GM is running you through everyone’s favorite tabletop role-playing game, Card Hunter, inspired in part by his older brother Melvin’s longtime association with the game. Gary narrates the story and guides you along, and just like a real GM, he’s running the bad guys while cheering for you, the player.
Combat uses a deck of cards for each of your three characters. The cards included in your deck are based on the items you have equipped, and new equipment slots open up as you level. Each round of combat, your characters draw three cards from their respective decks, and then trade off card plays with the AI opponent. Once both sides have exhausted their cards and passed, a new round begins and new cards are drawn.
Card Hunter is free to play, but the game includes a number of paid premium features. Players purchase the in-game currency of pizza with real money, and pizza can be used in turn to buy a number of in-game bonuses like new character costumes. Additional party members for your multiplayer team also cost pizza. However, the biggest use of pizza is to purchase a “Card Hunter Club” membership; a single purchase gets you membership for a month, three months, six months, or a year. At current prices (the pizza market is open during the beta) membership is close to $10 a month, or approximately $75 for a year. With membership, every battle you complete has an additional equipment reward, which is always cooler and more powerful than any of the normal loot you’d get without a membership.
If you’re interested in playing, Card Hunter‘s open beta is ready to accept new applicants. Head over to Card Hunter‘s official site and request access; the developers say they should be fulfilling beta requests in the coming days.