The Books of Demons launched today, 13 December 2014 on Steam. It was developed and published by Thing Trunk. It is a top-down hack ‘n slash, strategic adventure, role-playing game.
AIR Entertainment obtained a digital copy of the game for review purposes.
Here is a reveal trailer:
Welcome to The Book of Demons. If there is one thing you would have read me saying a lot, and probably every other review out there for this game, it’s this phrase: ‘Just like Diablo’. So to save myself repeating myself over and over, I’m only saying it this once, but know that I mean it for every aspect of this review.
If you have ever wanted to relive the glory and fun of the very first Diablo game, then the Book of Demons is for you. And it’s not just the story. But we’ll get to that.
Book of Demons is the first installment in a series of games called Return 2 Games, which is probably why there is the same feel as Diablo. The story itself is set in small town where the central Cathedral has been overrun by demons. There are labyrinths and dungeons under the Cathedral, and there is a dire need for a hero to save the day.
You will need to face many enemies and demons to take out the Archdemon. But the small Paperverse town has some allies. There is the wise old Sage (read Deckard Cain), who identifies cards and writes the Lore for the Bestiary. The Fortune-Teller (read Adria the Witch) upgrades player’s cards, recharges them and fuses Rune cards used for upgrades. The Barmaid (read Gillian) is the first friendly character you will interact with, who will exchange your ingredients found in the dungeons for stew and prizes. And finally, there is… no, not the Blacksmith, but rather the Healer (read Pepin) who heals you after battles, revives you after dying and charges the Death Rage skill.
There are three classes you will be familiar with. The Warrior, the Mage and the Rogue. I love how they have interpreted these characters in Book of Demons though, smartly integrating their deck-building aspect within their skill sets. The Warrior uses artefact cards, while relying on melee and defense. The Mage uses mana, while utilising ranged attacks and offensive spells. (And by that I don’t mean that he swears at his enemies.) Finally, there is the Rogue who uses Item cards while relying on a mix of melee and ranged weapons.
Book of Demons is a hybrid of the wonderful hack n slash genre and deck-building games. I have been seeing a rise in deck-building being combined with other genres lately and I must say that I am impressed with what has arisen so far.
And Book of Demons meshes the two beautifully together. At first, I was rather shocked to find how similar to Diablo the game is. Even the Sage’s voice was so close to Deckard Cain’s, I could swear it is the same voice actor. But as I played further in the game, I realised what a wonderful interpretation of Diablo the game really is.
When you are in the main town, gameplay consists mainly of talking to the town’s folk, talking about gossip and putting your dungeon-find items to good use. When you enter the cathedral, there are layers of dungeons and floors beneath the ground that makes it feel almost like a side-scrolling, platform game. When I first saw this, I was slightly disappointed. I really thought, is this all the game is?
And then I click on a monster. And my disappointment faded into sheer surprise and joy. It shifts to a top-down dungeon crawler where you get to explore and fight enemies. Moving around is the most linear you will find in a game. There are single paths you can only click on to walk, while the enemies are off the path to the sides. You can click on these creatures to kills them and they drop loot for you. There are also treasures to be found.
When you are done with a level, an icon will appear to show you are that it is clear. Exiting the level without clearing means that you will not be able to advance to the next level.
Now the battle-system is where it gets interesting. As you level up, you can collect and select power cards. There cards are placed in slots between your health and mana balls. You can click on these cards to call your powers, and it becomes a very wonderful while slightly strategic card-building game too.
The cards are split into three categories. Item cards can only be used so many times before they need to be recharged. Spells and skill cards need mana to be used, and artefact cards have passive abilities that stay with you while you have them on you.
Cards are also upgraded and many variants can be found or created. It creates a leveling up structure much more complex than the original Diablo game, and actually improves upon it. It creates an eagerness to play through the entire game just so that you can level up and discover new abilities.
SOUND AND GRAPHICS
When I first started the game, and was welcomed by papery, pop-up characters, I wondered just what the hell (pun intended) I was getting myself into. My exact words were: “Oh…no..”
However, as I progressed into the top-level dungeons, and became used to the style that the developer had chosen, I must admit that what they have done is utterly marvelous. They way they have translated a beloved rpg dungeon crawler and made it their own is incredible and reveals how much talent they actually have.
In a way, I hope they continue in this fashion and do not try and match the graphics of today, or try and replicate the graphics of the current Diablo games. This style takes some getting used to, but I must admit that playing Diablo.. I mean, Book of Demons, with paperverse, pop-up characters to talk to, and then the way they have replicated the dungeon levels, is surprisingly enjoyable.
The deck-building aspects is what really gets me going. The cards are drawn so wonderfully, and I love the icons that they have selected for spells. It brings an array of colour to the game, something that was missing from Diablo’s drab greyness.
The one aspect I truly love is how certain effects and spells affect the screen. For instance, when you are frozen, then it is clearly shown all over the screen.
This is a fantastic feature of the game and makes me wish Blizzard had thought of that. Hell, they should hire Thing Trunk to help them incorporate it in the upcoming Season of Diablo 3.
All I can really say about the sound is that they did a good job of trying to emulate the sounds from Diablo, whether it is the NPCs, the chest opening, collecting the loot or health… it is all pretty familiar. There are some great battle and creature sounds, and the dungeons have that tell-tale ominous sound.
The Book of Demons takes us back to the hellishly fantastic dungeon-crawler that Diablo 1 was, but brings to it the fun aspect of deck-building for powers and abilities. It translates Diablo into a new artistic style, while making The Book of Demons worthy of being an utterly amazing title on its own. I applaud what the developers have done with this game, and hope that they continue in this style.
The game receives a score of 8/10 from me.
Disclaimer: AIR Entertainment obtained a digital copy for reviewing purposes. This review is the author’s own opinion and not influenced by the developer in any way, as per our reviewing Code of Ethics.
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