Originally published at: https://statelyplay.com/2018/12/14/book-of-demons-turns-the-page-and-emerges-from-early-access/
Book of Demons is a weird one. Part Action-RPG, part roguelike, part card game, and with a graphic style that I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen before. It appears to be an homage to the original Diablo, complete with a Deckard Cain-alike and an ominous cathedral whose depths you’ll be exploring for loot and glory. There’s also a big, red demon sitting at the bottom waiting for you. So, it’s a lot like Diablo, except when it isn’t, which is most of the time. Confused? Stay awhile and listen!
The first thing you’ll notice about Book of Demons is the presentation. Everything has the look and texture of a massive pop-up book which, considering that, even as an adult, pop-up books fascinate me, hooked me immediately. I can see it turning off the “realism is everything” crowd, but, for me, the graphics are one hell of a hook.
Much like the original Diablo, the story is…light. Something bad happened in the old cathedral, the town’s gone to pot, and you need to jump in there and kill everything that moves. Considering that everything that moves is carrying a load of gold or other goodies, you don’t complain. Once in the cathedral, however, it becomes clear that we’re not in Tristram anymore. (The fact that, during the intro cinematic, the Big Bad is bathing in lava complete with a rubber ducky might have tipped you off as well)
Instead of free movement where you jump directly into the fray, Book of Demons puts you on predetermined paths, like a Diablo dark ride. You can move along the path as much as you like in either direction, but your paper doll is stuck on the path, slowly gliding toward your mouse click. Being on rails makes is hard to take the fight to the monsters, thus melee combat isn’t very melee-like. As long as something is range of your circle of light, you can click on it and blow it up. Vases, sarcophagi, and the ubiquitous critters that want you dead. I’ve only played a little, so I’m pushing around skeletons, zombies, gargoyles and some other baddies right out of the Monster Manual. There are also boss encounters here and there which change things up and add a huge dose of fun to the mix. Remember, too, that all your enemies are seemingly crafted from paper as well, and it was quite the shock to learn that a paper giant spider is just as disgusting as a far more realistic giant spider (I’m looking at you, Queen Araneae).
Instead of the gobs of loot most ARPGs throw at you, Book of Demons drops cards. You collect the cards and can place them in slots, which unlock their power. Some are passive and represent new armor or weapons, which others are very much active and give you the ability to do some major damage. I’ve even found potion cards that can get used up. In a cool move, however, the card doesn’t disappear. Instead, you can recharge it giving it so many uses before it needs another zap.
Also hiding in the zombies’ jean pockets are rune cards. These allow you to level up existing cards, opening up new and more exciting powers. There are different runes out there and most cards require certain types to level up. This makes for some brutal decisions when you have two cards that need a Death rune, but there’s only one to go around. Which do you level? I don’t know! I’m a newb!
So far, it all sounds like a relatively competent ARPG, but there’s more! The game has something called Flexiscope which is a way for you to decide how long you want to play. You can select how long you want your quests to be and then be done. Only have 5 mins? Set it to the quickest setting and you’ll be done killing the boss in 5 mins. Have all night? Well, I’m not sure how long you can set it for, but you get the idea. It’s a cool system that lets you feel like you’re getting your money’s worth even when you’re short on time.
There’s also a rougelike mode (which I haven’t tried yet) which, I’m guessing means you only get one life and then it’s over. There are some interesting mechanisms when you level up that mean different things to regular play or the roguelike mode, but I think I’ve already talked enough.
If any of this sounds like a good time, head on over to Steam or GoG and give it a gander. It’s currently on sale for $20, down from $25. Oh, and Book of Demons is only the first entry in a planned seven games, all set to recreate a classic game from the 90’s, and yet all tied to each other. I’ll be watching.