Book of Demons (PC) Review

By Ofisil 30.12.2018

Review for Book of Demons on PC

More than two years have passed from Thing Trunk's first step into the 'Paperverse;' a unique realm where everything is made out of paper cut-outs, whose main goal is to be a love letter to the golden days of PC gaming: the '90s. This first attempt was an awesome, Early Access Diablo clone called Book of Demons. After lots of tweaking and additions from the developing team, it's now time to go underground once more, to kick some demonic behind in the complete package, and see if it was worth the wait.

A great evil has awakened under the town's cathedral, in a typical, dark fantasy tale of ghosts, goatmen, skeletons, and, of course, demons. 'Typical' doesn't always mean mundane, though. Book of Demons' unique thing is that it's Diablo, but with everything made out of paper, with the way things are animated being similar to those pop-up books. Does this undermine the atmosphere of the whole thing? No siree bub! Yes, this is basically a parody of Blizzard's classic ARPG (and a fine one at that), yet despite the light comedic elements and overall cardboard look, this retains the dark vibes of the title it pays homage to.

Gameplay-wise it's similar, but at the same time completely different. The hero/heroine must find the big horned cheese who is running the show, by hack and slashing his or her way through a number of underground levels, all the way to a cardboard Hell. The catch is that, instead of roaming around, the player character can only move along certain paths, and do everything, by hitting and enemy, to gathering loot, by clicking on things. This might seem like a downgrade from the freedom offered in most ARPGs, but few will feel really confined - plus, this limitation actually forces a more strategic play style, as it won't always be easy to just dodge fireballs and spears.

Screenshot for Book of Demons on PC

The tactical element of this comes in the form of skill cards, which can be assigned in a quick access bar. While there are abilities that only need mana to be used, there are also item cards (like the healing potion) that can either be refilled in the town, or by finding the necessary "fuel" in-dungeon. The most important type, though, are artifact cards. These offer all sorts of passive boosts, from regenerating health and mana, to resistances and weapon mods, but also "lock" a certain amount of mana points, thus one must be careful when arranging the deck. It's also important to note that that's the main kind of loot in here, as the heroes don't have any equipment slots.

Speaking of heroes, like in Diablo, there's a warrior, a bow-wielding rogue, and a mage. Sadly, Book of Demons seems to be less impressive in here, as some are less fun to play with… or effective, for that matter. Without any exaggeration, the mage is way better than everybody else. Unlike the warrior, he has a (homing) ranged attack, and while the rogue does so as well, her arrows can hit obstacles, and become disabled when enemies get to close. Even worse, levelling-up only lets you increase your health or mana pools, so, besides choosing a favourite deck of cards, don't expect any additional ways to craft your build.

Screenshot for Book of Demons on PC

Is fighting fun? Well, first of all, like with everything else in here, it has been designed with comfort in mind. Yes, say what you will about the gameplay, but Thing Trunk has created an extremely user-friendly piece of software that feels as easy to use as your smartphone …but still, is it fun? The answer is definitely 'yes,' with the main reason being that, rather than using simple attacks, the majority of enemies use all sorts of abilities that force you to actually pay attention to what's going on in the battlefield, heavily prioritise targets, disable spells, cure negative status, and many, many more, while also making sure to swap cards on the fly when needed.

Unfortunately, the fact that each and every enemy is "special," means that none of them really are. To be more specific, the game soon ends up feeling like an endless series of battles between enemies that freeze you, poison you, stun you, resist you, block you, flank you, and just plain outnumber you, with you constantly having to micromanage your skills, making each stage feel almost identical to the previous one, thus increasing the repetitiveness of it all. It also doesn't help that there's a certain lack of end-game material, unless completing the impressively vast list of achievements counts as end-game material.

Screenshot for Book of Demons on PC

Upon defeating the final demon lord, the player can enter a sort of freeplay mode, either to collect what's left to collect (mainly variations of the standard cards), or to simply try a higher difficulty setting. This "infinite" mode, though, isn't different enough to really feel infinite, not to mention that unlike, say, Blizzard's masterpiece, Diablo II, the loot that can be found in here isn't exactly as diverse. What saves the day is the Roguelike mode, which inserts a permadeath mechanic, and puts some limits in the ways one can heal - it saves the day because it makes things more exciting, as death really counts in here, forcing you to be far more active in what is going on around you.

Yes, the Roguelike mode doesn't really makes it easier to excuse the issues that Book of Demons has, but it does add much more replayability than this would have without it. Moreover, despite what has been said so far, playing can get very just-one-more-round kind of addicting, especially for those who don't play for more than one or two hours. As a final note, and without going into much detail, the developer should be applauded for releasing such a technically flawless videogames, whereas big industry players *cough*Bethesda*cough* rarely do so. Add to that an excellent attention to detail, and a genuine respect to the era it pays homage to, and it's hard not to respect Thing Trunk as well.

Screenshot for Book of Demons on PC

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

'90s-inspired card-building hack 'n' slasher Book of Demons is far from a perfect game. That's not the sad thing about it, though. The sad thing is that it could certainly be perfect if the developer used the full potential of this fine take on action-RPGs. Having said that, fans of the genre should definitely give it a look, if only to taste what is a labour of love that just so happens to also be technically sound.

Developer

Thing Trunk

Publisher

Thing Trunk

Genre

Action Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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