Developed by Polish game developer Thing Trunk, Book of Demons is a unique mash up of hack’n’slash, action, and pen and paper gameplay. My initial reaction was that it was a simple Diablo clone. The question is, however, is it good?
At it’s core Book of Demons is a very bare bones, simple game. It incorporates Diablo style hack’n’slash mechanics with action and pen and paper type gameplay. You’re tasked on a quest to dive into a church/cathedral (Diablo anyone?) to destroy the evils that await. Down you go, further and further into the dungeons of the abyss until you land in hell where you fight even more demons on your way to slay the archdemon. Along the way you have two separate “bosses” to take on, a Chef, and an Archbishop. Seriously sounds like Diablo doesn’t it? It does, but it’s the way the game plays that differ slightly. Book of Demons is set in a paper world. You aren’t a 3-Dimensional character, and the world is a very isolated isometric world. You have one path you can go down, and you cannot deviate from that path. Think of the map as being a pen and paper dungeon, you explore “rooms” and not broadly walking to every corner of said room. So you have this path you have to follow and cannot stray from, you’d think it was very linear and simple right? To an extent you would be correct. While there is indeed only one way to go to exit to the next floor, there is generally multiple hallways that lead to dead ends and other monsters or loot. To complete a floor you have to kill all of the monsters and gather all of the loot, therefore forcing you to explore the entire map. You don’t have to kill everything, or loot everything, simply to advance a level, but it’s encouraged due to the progression system.
Like Diablo you are slashing your way through an onslaught of enemies one after the other. It can get hairy very fast as you only have one lane to travel and that lane can and will get blocked. This is where your cards come into play. Unlike Diablo you have no skill tree. Instead you earn cards through looting. These cards are your abilities. They cost mana to equip or to use, which means they count towards your total mana pool. For instance, say you have firebolt equiped and it costs 4 mana to equip. You only have 10 mana total. You effectively have 6 mana left to cast any of your on use cards with. Oh, and let me not forget the demons can eat away your mana at some point through the game. If they suck your mana away, your cards become inactive due to insufficient mana. Starting out you have one slot for a card. From there you have to purchase each slot at an exponential cost. By the time I finished the story my next card slot cost me 50,000 coins. Not that I had the mana to utilize it anyway. Then you have your Cauldron at town to deal with. As you gather loot, your cauldron begins to fill up. Each time you cash it in, it costs substantially more to cash in the next one. I recommend saving it, only using it once you have gold loot available, but that’s me. The loot obtained from the cauldron is negligible to be honest, but an added feature for “something” else to do. After you finish your quest and defeat the Archdemon below, your game is not over. You’ve unlocked Free play mode! Which basically means you can keep going indefinitely downwards.
One feature that I absolutely loved was the time limit you can set on a quest. Each section as you go down takes longer and longer to complete. Yet you can set a time limit of how long you want to play at a given time. Only have 10 minutes to play? Set that as you start the quest and the dungeon will be generated according to that limit, giving you something you can complete within that 10 minute time limit. It’s nice to be able to do this, even though it will still take you the same amount of time in the long run, maybe more, as just sitting down and playing for hours, it gives you the chance to play it as you have time. There is no “urgency” that forces you to continue for 30 minutes when you only had 10.
In total honesty, that’s the game. It’s Paper Diablo. It’s fun for what it is, but could use a little more to it. Level design is fairly simple, yet I don’t expect much more due to the constraints of movement. The card system is a cool feature, but you quickly figure out that certain cards are useless, and certain cards are just overpowered. Put it this way, you can get 2 cards that will basically prevent you from dying, in my opinion this shouldn’t exist. The graphics look good, I like the way they designed the game, and the music is okay, but not fantastic. I clocked in at just 9 hours to complete to main story line. It’s short, and honestly doesn’t really feel like much of a story at all. If you’re looking for a Diablo type game, but also want more of a pen and paper feel, you likely will enjoy this game. The different mechanics it brings to the table puts it at being just enough unique to be fun and not a rehash or reskin of other games. Oh, and did I mention cameos? Plenty of those to go around too if that’s your thing.
I should also say that If you’re a streamer, it could be even better. They’ve recently added a feature to include your stream audience into your game. Using this feature allows you to set which ranks of your viewers are allowed to do what, which include spawning in monsters, traps, or helping you use abilities to destroy your enemies. Will they aid you, or be the bane of your existence? I personally thought this is a nice, unique addition to the game for streamers to engage their audience, it’s a nice touch.
Book of Demons is set to release on December 13th on steam for $24.99.