When I discovered Book of Demons back in its Early Access days I was intrigued by its “choose your own run length” system. The premise of being able to adjust a roguelike run to last a longer or shorter time was quite enticing. Diving into it now, I discovered it wasn’t as simple as advertised.
Book of Demons’ story revolves around the player, an adventurer, returning to their hometown only to find it under attack. After the village’s bishop performed a ritual to obtain power, the gates to hell opened, and the Archdemon emerged, sending its troops into the world. Even the now corrupted bishop became one of the fiend’s minions, known as the Antipope. With the skills learned throughout their travels and the help of the inhabitants of the village, the player will have to vanquish the forces of evil.
The graphics of Book of Demons are quite good and in a charming paper-like style, similar to Epistory’s. There is a lot of enemy variation, with several different families of foes, each with their own subtypes. This also applies to the three bosses, which look completely different to anything else. There are a lot of visual effects to be found, which stay clear and visible even in the more cramped spaces.
Sound is also quite well designed, with varied music, although of the “dramatic tension” kind. SFX is clear and very welcoming, being at times the best way to tell what’s happening. There is also voice acting for every character and dialogue in the game, which is pretty good even in the musical numbers.
The game’s gameplay is a mix between hack and slash and deckbuilder. As much as it may defend its existence as a roguelike, its place in this genre is very arguable. Its main defence for being one is the difficulty mode dubbed as such, which includes permadeath if the player runs out of money to revive. Despite that, the game itself doesn’t work as a standard roguelike, seeing as finishing it takes upwards of 10 hours and the individual runs don’t have endings per se.
Book of Demons is structured in such a way where a campaign is divided into several runs. These runs are where the “choose your own length” system comes in, under the name of Flexiscope. Longer runs net more progress and rewards, but shorter ones are safer. A certain amount of progress is required before reaching each of the bosses, meaning players can take a few long runs or several shorter ones.
That said, there is arguably no point in this system, seeing as players can just leave the game in the middle of a run and continue where they left off, as long as they finished the level. The only disadvantage for having an ongoing run is that no other runs can be started and previous bosses cannot be re-challenged for rewards, but this is quite minimal of a setback.
There are three different characters in the game, each with their own particular cards; these are the Warrior, Rogue and Mage. Each of them has a different playstyle, as one may guess, but the mechanics are still the same for all of them. As the player progresses through the game random cards will be found, which can be Items, Artefacts or Spells. Items have active effects and limited charges, Artefacts grant passive bonuses and Spells work like items but with mana instead of charges. Each of these cards can also be upgraded up to three times and have different rarities, granting them effects and bonuses.
Equipped artefacts also lock part of the character’s mana, making it unusable for spells. It is more than possible to clear a campaign without using a single spell, though, depending on whichever build is used. Card effects are varied and unique, allowing players to pick and mix even on the fly, since the game allows using several sets or even dynamically changing.
The enemies themselves also have unique effects and abilities, with some even having special hearts. Those enemies with special hearts generally trigger a certain effect upon hit or death: poison generates an explosion, golden spawn minions, etc. There are also mini bosses, named enemies, which are the same as their kin, but with improved stats and several phases.
This system also applies to the three normal bosses and requires players to act a certain way. For example, they may require the player to clear a few minions, stay in an area or simply attack. Despite how varied the effects may be, once they’ve been seen once there is nothing new to them, making mini bosses just another pest with better rewards.
As it’s common in all dungeon crawlers, there are other things to find, such as fountains to restore health and mana, chapels, chests, etc. Exploring floors beyond finding the stairs down is often beneficial to the player, not just a waste of time.
Combat in Book of Demons is somewhat unique, requiring players to click on enemies within range to attack them. Spells and Items are also quick to use, directly from the Hotbar or even through the menu, which slows down time when used. Things can get quite hectic though, since it is easy to get surrounded by the hordes requiring quick decisions.
In conclusion, Book of Demons is a pretty good game with a lot of playtime to offer for both those playing only the campaign and those continuing in the freeplay mode. While the Roguelike difficulty can at times be challenging, it should be noted that the game isn’t that difficult overall, with options for easier difficulties. The $24.99/21,99€/£19.99 price, with big sales every once in a while, make it also a very accessible game.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Book of Demons Review
Gameplay - 8/10
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 8.5/10
Replay Value - 9/10
User Review( votes)
Under the pretense of a roguelike where players can choose the length of the run, Book of Demons brings a fun but long campaign anyone can enjoy.
- Good gameplay, with plenty of content.
- Can become repetitive after the first time.