Is there Hell to play in this highly-accessible hack n’ slash dungeon crawler? Find out in our Book of Demons Review on PC.
In the wake of the Diablo Immortal fiasco, now’s a good time to release a good, loving tribute to/parody of Diablo while fans remain disillusioned. Lucky for Polish developer Thing Trunk, it’s been cooking up just that for the last two years in early access with Book of Demons. Now it gets its full release, has its early promise been fulfilled?
Book of Demons is a hack n’ slash dungeon crawler very much inspired by the classic Diablo template. A series of dungeons, an archdemon to vanquish, a selection of classes, and loot to be hoovered up religiously, but three key differences make it stand out as its own thing.
Firstly there’s its visual style is papercraft, from the cutscenes, the character animation, the menus to the very dungeons themselves. It sticks firmly to making the papercraft aesthetic consistent, and Book of Demons is that bit more endearing for it. It pairs a nice sense of humor to it too.
Secondly, it employs a deck-building mechanic to gameplay. You’ll pick up cards as you play, which give you power-ups, weapons, boosts, and spells to help you out on your dungeoneering. You can swap around cards to form an effective deck for each kind of battle and while it’s essentially just loot and equipment in a fancy form, it ties into the papercraft theme nicely. Cards can also be upgraded via runes, so you don’t have to necessarily ditch them once a more powerful one shows up. Juggling cards in the heat of battle can be genuinely exciting, which shows the balance of their implementation is well handled.
Thirdly, Book of Demons takes the hack n’ slash dungeon crawler formula and simplifies it. You click around to move your character as normal and once enemies or objects come into your radius (represented by how far you can see in the dingy dark) you can attack/interact with them. Loot is picked up by simply hovering the mouse cursor over it. You can even set the combat to auto if you just want to focus on the cards/looting. It’s a very accessible setup for this kind of game, almost akin to a casual clicker, and Book of Demons could act as a better gateway to other, more complex, dungeon crawlers, than something like Diablo Immortal, as a result.
What may irk some is there are fixed paths in each dungeon. It exists this way to facilitate backtracking, and it fits the game’s more casual style, but you can see why it might exasperate those seeking a bit more freedom of movement.
Perhaps more impressive is how Thing Trunk allows for a flexible way to play Book of Demons. You can tweak the length and style of any session to your liking, meaning you can go on a long haul or a quick run whenever you want to do so. Even though the game thrives on simplicity, it’s nice to see it doesn’t shy away from offering more challenge and complexity if you aren’t satisfied with what’s on offer. It’s not going to be on par with a full-on hardcore experience, but it plays differently enough to begin with that it doesn’t really matter all that much. To cater too much to that crowd would betray Book of Demons‘ simplicity.
The story is a bit of a drawback. It’s not essential to the action in fairness, but there’s not a lot to it beyond the typical Good vs. Evil fare and a light ribbing of Diablo. If there had been a bit more to chew on in the parody side then Book of Demons would be damn near essential as a light alternative to the game it pokes affectionate fun at.
Book of Demons does interesting things with a genre dominated by stat-heavy grind titles with furious clicking/button mashing. The majority of the busywork is abolished in favor of ease of use and it’s honestly quite refreshing. As mentioned before, the setup of Book of Demons really could make it an accessible way into the genre for those not familiar with it/enthused by it, and for seasoned dungeon crawler fans it offers up something of a respite from the usual formula.
Book of Demons review code provided by the publisher.
Book of Demons is out now on Steam