Back at the Polish games booth at gamescom, I was continuously getting impressed by what many developers had to offer. As I stood by onlooking, a particular game caught my attention and I decided to take a look. What I saw was a pleasant surprise as I delved in and tried Book of Demons.
Developed by Thing Trunk, Book of Demons is an action RPG with exploration, randomly generated dungeons with added card collecting. It's a revitalised take on the genre and will sure enough make fans of classic RPG's feel right at home. It certainly sounds much like any other throwback indie RPG of today, especially those found on Early Access - which this title is still in - but this was different.
What makes Book of Demons stand out is its design, charm and approach to the genre. There has certainly a lot of care into the making of this game and you can see it throughout. The visuals are what drew me in and is likely the reason it did for others as well for you see the world within Book of Demons is made from paper.
Called the Paperverse, everything is part of a living and breathing pop-up book. The environments and characters are finely detailed that appear as hand painted cut outs, folded and positioned to believably inhabit a paper world. But it was not just this refreshing design that makes Book of Demons appealing but it's also the gameplay itself that offers variety and huge amount of replayability.
The game starts off much like any heroic RPG. You play the hero arriving in a village in turmoil from an archdemon down in the depths below the village. Monsters and creatures alike put fear into the villagers and it is up to you defeat them and save the village. It's pretty cliched, but the developers know this, and to them it's how you go about doing it is where the fun is at.
Book of Demons uses a combination of roguelike procedurally generated dungeons. You have to work your way down the floors clearing through; defeating skeletons, zombies and bosses. The game is played from a top-down perspective in the vein of Diablo / Baldur's Gate. Even your health and mana pools are similar to Diablo. Movement is limited to the direction you're facing, there isn't any freedom of movement, but closer to movement on a tile/grid like Legend of Grimrock.
As you navigate through the dungeons, you will encounter multiple paths full of potential loot from pots and chests. When in combat, enemies lurch towards you and your hero will automatically swing his sword chipping away at their hearts till they crumble. As you venture further down the depths you'll discover skill cards - these further bolster your abilities with spells that can switch dispatch enemies as long as you have the mana for it.
Book of Demons takes great care into its design by keeping things fun and balanced. During my brief time with the demo, I never felt overwhelmed by the enemies or overpowered by my spells, but I certainly knew that if I was getting beaten it was because I wasn't using the right type of spells or simply wasn't powerful enough.
That’s why after completing a floor of the dungeon you can take the opportunity to return to the village and have a chat with the inhabitants, buy gear, upgrade your character and more.
What separates Book of Demons from other RPG's is an interesting feature that allows you jump in for a quick-game. You may not have the time for a full-blown experience, so here you can play in bite-sized chunks. You can set the length of the dungeon, how long it will take you to complete and how many or powerful the enemies will be. It's adaptable and easily makes Book of Demons accessible. Of course, if you're up for the challenge you can even adjust the games to be longer and harder with a higher bonus in rewards..
Book of Demons is a surprisingly unique and versatile experience. I enjoyed my time with the game at gamescom and upon my return I played some more of the demo (which you can too) on Steam. It's been in development for over three years and although it is still in Early Access, the groundwork has laid down and the team at Thing Trunk now want players feedback to make Book of Demons even better.