Carded

HIGH Canny game design.

LOW The challenge, or lack thereof.

WTF Even as a tribute to Diablo, it didn’t need to actually quote it.


I do like a good aesthetic, so I was instantly fond of Book of Demons as its cardboard cut-out look reminded me of playing elaborate, incomprehensible paper games during childhood. Fortunately Book of Demons eschews my childish obtuseness for accessibility.

An adventurer (a warrior at first, but a rogue and mage become available later) returns to their town to find a demon causing trouble. Naturally, the player has to go into a nearby dungeon under the local cathedral and murder everything.

Book of Demons is an isometric dungeon crawler in which the player is limited to fixed paths while monsters roam freely. The player’s character will auto-attack slowly once enemies are in range, and the player can choose to hold down an attack button to speed attacking up.

The character has three item slots to house potions, spells and passive abilities and the player is free to customize them and expand the number of slots as the game progresses. These slots can hold potions and spells with charges that can be replenished, or passive abilities that ‘lock’ portions of the player’s mana but offer constantly-active effects. This system leads to a good amount of flexibility in character build, and I chose defensive abilities that allowed me to take hits and soak up damage, along with a passive that increased the number of enemies I could hit at the same time.

Combat gains a bit of complication with enemy types that are immune to attacks until their shields are broken, enemies that can’t be hit too quickly, others that explode when close, or those more easily killed with different types of damage. However, things never get too complex and in terms of input, the action is limited to two buttons — a nice touch.

In addition, there are a lot of details like this to appreciate. Things like visual indicators on the floor to tell a player where they’ve been and whether they’ve fought every monster and collected every reward in that area, pressing a button to be instantly transported to the exit when a floor is cleared out, and being allowed to set the length of a dungeon run based on how much time I want to put in during a session. At every turn, the developer seems to aim for making Book of Demons as accommodating to a beginner as possible, and really benefits from it.

While this design and all of its features are great, I think my real grumble here is that, at the end of the day, Book of Demons is just another dungeon crawler. Players who haven’t been through a dozen of these will likely be far more excited about it than I was — and this really isn’t a knock on the game itself — but after playing so many of these, there isn’t enough to make this one stand out in the genre other than the accessibility and friendliness to newcomers.

Book of Demons isn’t likely to hold the attention of hardcore dungeon crawl enthusiasts or those who don’t care for loot-heavy titles like this one. However, players who are new to this style of game or those looking for something on the simpler side would be well-served to check this one out.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Disclosures: This game is developed by Think Trunk and published by 505 Games. It is currently available on iOS, Mac, PC, PS4, and XBO. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the XBO-X. Approximately 12 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. There are no multiplayer modes.

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated T and contains Blood and Violence. The game is hardly deserving of a teen rating — the blood splatters that appear when a character gets hit are rendered as paper and don’t look particularly gruesome, there is no real swearing and all the enemies are made out of paper and look non-human.

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes.  

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: There are a couple of moments that are tough without sound – some button prompts appear offscreen as enemies cast abilities, which is a little challenging on harder difficulties. Text cannot be resized, and the colors cannot be changed.

Remappable Controls: No, this game’s controls are not remappable.

AJ Small

AJ Small

AJ Small is a games industry veteran starting in QA back in 2004. He started his gaming on the BBC Microcomputer and switched to being a devout SEGA fan from then on. He currently walks the earth in search of the tastiest/seediest drinking holes as part of his attempt to tell every single person on the planet that Speedball 2 and The Chaos Engine are the greatest games ever made.

He can be found on twitter, where he welcomes screenshots of Dreamcast games and talk about Mindjack, just don’t mention that one time he was in Canada.
AJ Small

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