Locked, loaded, and compiling now, Haxity is a far-future card fighter from indie DeveloperMegapop Games. With its Early Access reveal on Steam, we took a walk on the bad side of the cyber street with a Haxity hands on.
If you’ve managed to check out the recent news around Haxity you’ll probably think you know what to expect. Sitting down to take on this new endeavour it wouldn’t have been unreasonable to assume that the latest competitive card game was actually nothing more than a cool looking cover of genre classic Slay the Spire. We were so wrong.
The Future Of Fighting
Haxity describes itself as a cyberpunk, rogue-lite, action deck-builder. Megapop’s vision for Early Access was always a new kind of PvP deck building experience and a PvE roguelite card gaming title. Due to delays in finishing the single-player modes, we found ourselves staring down a primarily PvP focused experience. Thankfully we had an experienced opponent in Jonathan Strand, Community Manager at Megapop Games. This sci-fi brawler might look like it’s straight out of Street Fighter but Haxity has a great deal more complexity to it than just up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A. While the comic book graphics are admittedly very cool, we didn’t spend too much time admiring the bright neon highlights of Haxity, its incredible looking range of characters, or the cyberpunk aesthetic before we jumped in to take on a few enemies. As we started up Haxity, Jonathan described the evolution of the neon look behind Haxity.
“This game has been in development for a long time and gone through a lot of iterations. In general, we wanted to have a game with some cool aesthetics. We felt like cyberpunk really fit the underground fighting style. We use cards as moves and the art director, Mikael drew up some really cool cyberpunk art and we fell in love with it, and we just kind of ran with it”
If you’re looking for maximum combat and minimum exposition, then Haxity has it. This heavily PvP focused experience is ready to throw down in the mean streets of a cybercity or tangle in a mechanical wasteland with little in the way of preamble. Right now, three fighters, each looking comic book cool and resplendent in their own way are present and ready or players to drag into the alleyways and get into a dustup. Each of these enhanced individuals comes with their own abilities and unique playstyle. Whether you take on the role of a hardened cop, a mutated mad scientist, or a roller-skating trickster, each entrant into this arena comes with a plethora of ways to craft your game and takedown anybody that stands in your way.
We’ve already made it clear that Haxity isn’t just any other fighter. While many competitive brawlers ask players to wield a set of tools based on a constantly changing circumstances, the turn-based combat in Haxity provides a different type of tactical encounter. Unlike some traditional turn-based systems, Haxity’s card decks provide each side of a clash with a very different and unpredictable set of moves. Outcomes are far from predictable and while character choice will skew the type of tools available to you, it isn’t everything.
“When we start to design characters, like Banshee our newest character, we want to create a character that supports at least three broad archetypes or playstyles. With Copperson, for instance, we did this with Momentum, which is his keyword. This is supported by Big Hits which is buffing up big hits and a thing called Expend, which means starting with a big deck that gets smaller during the fight. We try to set up these concepts for all the characters so they enable some easy to access archetypes, but you won’t always get what you are looking for”
Before even considering playing a card in anger each player must choose their weapons by building their very own deck of combat cards. Picking from a range of starter packs, booster cards, and relevant perks allows each game to start with a huge potential combination of cards, each of which is still subject to the luck of the draw. These decks can allow competitors to outfit their fighter of choice with a range of damage and DPS, and heals. They can throw in heals, shields, and a range of other life saving abilities too. Once we picked our own chrome cop, we cobbled together a corresponding card deck, picked booster cards and prepared for battle against our host.
What seems like a daunting set of options at first is certainly going to keep players guessing at first. Haxity’s head-on collision of cyborgs and gene splicers is an odd bunch and they don’t come with much in the way of instruction. If you do jump into PvP expect to be hacking on the fly and learning as you go. Thankfully battles start to make themselves after a few encounters. Split up into several rounds, players must initially draw three cards from randomly selected hand and deal out their damage. Each card comes color coded as a Skill, Ranged, or Melee attack card and comes coupled with an appropriate stat. As each round proceeds, you’ll have an opportunity to play modifiers before committing to an attack, also called hacks, to your trio of attacks. These are drawn from the same card deck that you built before each fight, so synergy and planning are crucial. Once both parties are satisfied, things kick off in an explosion of colour. An initially obvious battle between three simple cards instantly generates move and counter move until a series of stylish animated attacks end up flying across the screen.
This continues for several rounds until one competitor is knocked all the way from a full health bar to flat on their face. While this might all sound relatively simple, Haxity has an incredible level of potential depth to it. Between various rounds, players can modify and bulk up their attributes with mid-fight perks, the damage system follows a triad of attack types that give the hedging for dominance a rock, paper, scissors type of combat. Play your cards the wrong way and you may find every Ranged card played remains null and useless against a skill-based deck. Add in a number of other systems like the player energy system, initiative, or just the constantly fluid card draws and you never quite know if the right card will come up or if a match will turn into a scuffle for survival.
Haxity’s deep and immersive combat system could potentially win it some serious plaudits from fans of other card games looking for a challenge but Megapop Games is fully aware that they need to address ease of access for less tactically minded payers.
“The competitive mode is a lot more punishing than the rest of the game. We are working on a campaign mode that should ease in players and we’ve got a pretty decent AI that should allow players to get experience with the card decks. We’re also looking to bring in a tutorial as well so people can understand what’s going on when they play in competitive modes.”
Thankfully, this means that the final game should find a more cohesive single player and tutorial experience for those of us who learn by falling at the feet of our enemies.
Despite the tactical depth, a mix of complex mechanics, and unpredictable outcomes, Haxity is still a really enjoyable throw down. Players getting into game won’t face long progression grinds, power gating, or collectable pack purchases. Instead, Jonathan confirmed that Megapop Games are opening up very card pack from the get go for players.
“The first thing is that our game director and myself, we have this vision for a card game that isn’t just built on the loot box mentality. Card packs might take the place of loot boxes but in a digital CCG that ties players into that card pack economy. Instead, we wanted to make a premium game from the start like Slay the Spire where you buy it once and you have it forever. This was a really important philosophy for us. We wanted a game that could be played by anybody, where you don’t need to pay tons of money to be part of it. We didn’t want the credit card to be the most powerful card in the whole thing”
With plenty of ways to play, a definite learning curve, and a turn-based game, Haxity provides a very different combat experience. Megapop Games is making plans to ensure that things don’t get stale. Jonathan noted that while this is early days and “We want to have a situation where we can always add new cards and new complexity into the game as we go along.” Despite games that can run long, the title’s great visuals, appropriately grungy cyberpunk soundtrack, and the free-flowing dynamics of the card draws involved in Haxity make this an engaging experience. Whether it will manage to grab a critical mass of interested players looking for a competitive arena, we will have to wait and find out. Check out Haxity as it enters the Early Access arena now on Steam.