When looking at Book of Demons, there are dungeons filled with monsters to kill and gold and valuables to collect as rewards to keep you plunging into the depths one more time. There is a big, bad boss to kill to make the world safe again. All of the basic elements are here, but a few drawbacks keep this game from being what it could be.
The game starts with you returning home to find your town has been overtaken by an evil presence under the old cathedral, and you decide to be the hero. The setup is brief, but it’s enough.
At its core, Book of Demons is a deck-building card game, and you can find new cards in each of the game’s three main dungeon areas. The cards serve as your weapons, armor, potions, and buffs, and there are common, magical, and legendary variants. The cards allow you to tailor your character across three different classes. Armor gives you a higher hit or dodge rate, fire or ice can be added to your basic attack, and health or mana potion gives you a boost.
Each new card slot costs more to unlock, but you are still limited in total slots and by the amount of mana they reserve to use. There’s enough strategy here to make searching for new cards a must, and each of the classes has different cards. Although finding the cards is fun, navigating the menu for these cards and knowing which card you are selecting isn’t. Highlighting a particular card could be clearer and having larger text would have been nice.
The townsfolk provide an occasional insight into the creatures and history, but you mostly interact with them as vendors. The Sage can identify new cards, the Fortune-Teller lets you upgrade those cards and recharge uses, and the Healer can restore your health. The Barmaid keeps a cauldron of prizes you can redeem for ever-increasing amounts.
The dungeons are procedurally generated, but it’s not a free-roam area. The paths are more like rails for your character. You can freely move, but you can’t move outside the predetermined road as your enemies can.
Combat is a combination of button presses, and it gets repetitive and boring. When a monster moves close enough, you will automatically attack. It’s slow and not very effective unless you hold down the X button to speed it up. Before you can damage some enemies, you’ll need to tap the circle button to break their armor. A potion or special move is a triangle press, and you’ll need to switch back and forth by using R1 or L1. When you finish, you can use the right analog stick to sweep a circle over gold and loot to collect it.
Despite being relatively simple at first, combat eventually becomes frustrating. Levels quickly filled with so many monsters, even immediately as I stepped onto a new floor, that I couldn’t see what I was doing and aiming became impossible. I just held onto the X button, watched as some of the hearts disappear from a random monster, and hoped for the best.
The game’s auto-aiming doesn’t always choose the monster currently kicking your butt as the next target either. To try to avoid this situation, I used a card that allowed me to charge forward and stun enemies, but I couldn’t always see which way I was aiming. Even if I was pressing the stick in the direction I wanted to go, I would sometimes rush in the wrong direction. It’s a lot of chaos without giving me the tools to control it.
If you are overwhelmed by a mob, dying has two penalties. First, you lose whatever prizes were in the Barmaid’s cauldron. Second, you have to make it back to where you died to pick up your cards and gold. If you were swimming in enemies, it can be tough, but I liked the idea. If you want a real penalty, you can play the rogue-like mode to give your death lasting consequences.
The Flexiscope system lets you choose how long you want your gameplay session to last, and I think it’s a brilliant addition to the game. It works by giving you five different dungeon lengths to choose and giving a time estimate to complete them based on data from your previous runs. It’s not a 100% accurate estimate, but it becomes more accurate as you play.
The presentation is decently done. The papercraft art style fits well from the characters to the little bits of fire on the ground. The music and sound are basic, but I had no complaints. It’s not a comedic game, but the little joke interjections here and there were nice.
Overall, Book of Demons is a simple game with lots of replayability. The foundation for the world is just enough, and the card system gives you some good options for customization. The systems work well together, but a combination of issues made it less fun than it could have been.
Book of Demons PS4 Review
Overall - Not Bad - 5.5/10
Book of Demons can be a fun and simple deck-building journey through procedurally generated dungeons, but the card menu and some combat issues keep the game from being as fun as it could be.
- Procedurally generated levels give incredible replayability
- The Flexiscope system lets you create a dungeon to fit your available time
- Game systems integrate well with each other
- Later battles are structured to remove some player control
- Combat can be boring
- Navigating the card menu is a chore
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using PS4 Pro.