Book of Demons Early Access Impressions!

by on December 12, 2016

 

                Book of
Demons is a quirky looking game by Thing Trunk part of a series of tributes to
the old but gold games of the 90s.
                The
action takes place in a paper-cut looking village and its haunted cathedral.
With the support of a handful of villagers, a hero ventures into the depths of
the cathedral that stands as a gateway to hell. Sounds familiar? Setting aside,
everything about Book of Demons stands as a comical homage to Diablo. Right off
the bat players can choose between the three classes and even if the Early
Access version contains only warrior and mage, the trio will be completed with
the addition of the rogue. Going past the simplistic character creation, the
player arrives at the troubled village inhabited by some caricature characters
including this game’s version of Deckard Cain and Adria (I guess Griswold
didn’t fit in with the game mechanics). Even the cathedral’s submerging
progression culminates with a silly Archdemon that’s the paper-cut embodiment
of the older and terrifying Diablo.
Peaceful!
                The
purpose of this game called for a gameplay that should resemble the original
Diablo in one way or another and despite its peculiar nature, Book of Demons is
some sort of Hack & Slash designed around simplified mechanics. The maps are
boardgame-like allowing the players to move only on a rail that follows
straight lines and right angles, limiting the ways combat can be approached. Enemies
on the other hand have no movement constraints and can attack the players from
any direction outside of the movement path. It’s an interesting concept that
doesn’t translate all that well into a gameplay mechanic. The limitation to the
movement greatly simplifies the combat system transforming it into an even bigger
click fest than Hack & Slashes usually are as well as being monotonous.
The railroad!
                The
combat is pretty straight forward. As the player follows the defined movement
path enemies will be met and dealt with in the old fashion way of Hack &
Slashes. Book of Demons will have you click your brains out fighting waves of
enemies together with their summons and the ambushes that await on the
invisible ceiling. It’s nothing wrong with clicking your mouse button to death
to slash enemies apart. Many games have done this in a satisfying way for the
players and a beneficial way for the producers of peripheral devices, but the
movement style doesn’t allow any tactical approaches. You either go headfirst
into the groups of enemies trying to click their HP hearts out before they get
yours or you slowly kite your way to victory with no other play style being
allowed or viable.
Flashy!
                The variety
of enemies is pretty impressive and each monster comes with certain abilities
and elemental attunements to make your clicker’s life harder. Group leaders and
bosses are often met in the dungeons beneath the cathedral and to deal with these
powerful monsters, Book of Demons has clicking mini-games that add some sort of
depth to the combat system. To recover from a stun, players have to catch all
the flying starts on the screen and an enemy’s armor is destroyed by repeatedly
clicking on the armor icon instead of attacking the target directly. It’s a
neat little trick that expands the gameplay mechanics past their simplistic
design, yet I’m not sure it bolds too well with PC gaming giving a strong
feeling of mobile gaming.
The dizziness is real…
                As any
Hack & Slash, Book of Demons has a progression system which allows players
to improve their characters to face the hordes of enemies more easily. But as
with everything this game entails, the progression is pretty simplistic yet
surprisingly catchy to keep you busy for quite some time. Leveling only
increases the character’s life or mana with one point per level and while life
serves the same purpose as in any other game, mana is a multifunctional stat.
Mana is tied directly to the cards system and can either be spent to use
abilities and spells or can be reserved to equip cards.
Cards are this game’s version of
almost everything including abilities or spells, potions, crafting runes and
artifacts. The big difference is a deck-like system in which useable items,
abilities and artifacts share the same slots. A character starts with a limited
number of card slots which can be expanded through spendy upgrades which
together with the crafting system make gold a valuable currency.
My deck!
                Cards
can be upgraded through a crafting system which has the players fusing rune
cards and spending gold to get more and better stats for potions, abilities and
artifacts. Grinding for gold and potential upgrades to fuel the character’s
progression is done efficiently with the help of the FLEXISCOPE.
                The
FLEXISCOPE feature allows the adjustment of levels’ size and implicitly the
quantity of loot found in these levels. It’s a system that works in a similar
fashion with any other games that have the players grinding eternally for gear,
asking for a time investment in exchange for more and potentially better loot.
There’s also the cauldron gambling option for those who feel particularly lucky
or have gathered a fortune, but with the certainty to get something useful out
of it. The cauldron gathers random loot and even stats during specific
milestones as long as the player doesn’t die or isn’t tempted to buy in. The
bigger the wait the higher the prize or the loss.
Controlled progression.
                The
last part of the progression system is shared between customary features.
Achievements have been around for ages, giving players an incentive to continue
playing and Book of Demons has them in spades, awarding players with profile
pictures that come along with a peculiar share option and that will probably
carry on throughout the paperverse.
                Last,
but not least, the players driven by competition will find that Book of Demons
has a global leaderboard tracking the progression in the game’s Hardcore mode.
What?!
                Setting
up the paperverse art style for the Return 2 Games series required two years of
work and it shows. There is a certain tradeoff happening within the Book of
Demons with artistic direction coming on top of the simplified gameplay.
Nevertheless, the combination of funny poetry and boargame imagery with every
visual being paper cut is quite unique transforming the gritty Diablo into a
satirical adventure that’s worth seeing at least once.
This angel came to the wrong game.
Wanderer, is that you?!

 

                As Book
of Demons is the first in a seven games series that will take the gamers back
in time, the developers can learn a lot from this experiment to improve the
future of the paperverse. But as it stands now, the game’s catchy artistic
direction of a caricaturized setting that’s a tribute to a great game isn’t
enough to hide Book of Demons’ gameplay problems borderline with a strong
tablet vibe.
(This article is
based on a press copy of the game provided by the developer.)
Nodrim