Books are often magical as they transport you to a faraway land. However, no one takes this literally, otherwise, libraries would be a dangerous place indeed. Yet, Roguebook does just that with its tough missions and magical chapters.
Developed by Abrakam Entertainment SA and published by Nacon, this is a rogue-lite deck-builder. At first, it appears to be complicated and tough to play. But, this soon changes as you revisit the repetitive gameplay for the nth time. Subsequently, practice makes perfect and an experimental approach will be your best friend.
Roguebook is brilliantly repetitive.
It’s rare that I praise a game for being repetitive, but Roguebook is brilliant because of it. The core concept demands a slow and methodical style where death and failure are leading mechanics. Consequently, there are moments where you’ll be disheartened, the action feels unbalanced, or you’ll want to quit. Yet the flip side to this is when it clicks and it all comes together. This fleeting moment is euphoric and makes it so rewarding and unbelievably addictive.
The game is set within a book that has developed a wicked will. This tome was lost within a well in the land of Faeria. As it lay in the magical waters, it became tainted by the evil magic. Subsequently, the stories and characters within are now cursed! However, where there are villains, there are heroes to fight them, and this is what you must do.
A new story on every playthrough.
Roguebook heavily leans on its rogue-lite mechanics and procedurally generated maps. Therefore, you experience a new story during every playthrough. Like every other rogue-lite, death takes all but your character progression. This is normally harsh but acceptable. Yet in Roguebook it’s bloody soul-destroying. You’ll spend your time collecting treasures, abilities and brilliant cards for each hero. You’ll have an amazing loadout only for some bad luck or poor planning to take it all away.
Thankfully, the disappointment is short-lived, as a new attempt creates a unique adventure. The action unfolds on a blank page of this magical book. Moreover, each chapter has a central boss to defeat and victory moves you onto the next page. You’ll have to explore a large map comprising many hexagonal spaces. Within this landscape, there is gold, treasure, ruins, battles, and more.
However, it wouldn’t be a magical tome if there wasn’t a degree of mystery. Luckily, each chapter is shrouded by a fog of war. Therefore, you must uncover your surroundings by painting paths with magical paint. It was a wonderfully tasteful way of incorporating the novel (pun intended) theme into the navigation elements.
Teamwork, trinkets, and deck-building.
Though navigation and the book elements were key to the story and theme, the gameplay revolves around deck-building and teamwork. Subsequently, you must experiment with your approach, your heroic duo, and the trinkets you find.
Each run allows you to select a pair of heroes who have unique strengths and weaknesses. One may be strong and hardy and act as a tank. Whereas, another may be agile, quick, and better as support. Whichever you choose, they all add a different tactical approach. Furthermore, combining the heroes correctly adds different synergies and abilities to each encounter.
Once your team is selected, it’s all about deck-building and combat! These two elements are intertwined and require planning and tactical nuance in order to be successful. Each character has 50 cards to select from, and their use varies from defence, attack, or miscellaneous. Furthermore, every card costs energy to be used. Therefore, you must juggle between an all-out attack and ensuring you block your enemies blows.
Getting your approach right isn’t easy and at times you won’t have the correct cards available. When this happens, you must learn to gamble while potentially sacrificing a hero. Consequently, this makes the gameplay tough and unfair, while letting you hope for an ounce of luck.
Roguebook has an old-school style.
Though the graphics are crisp, sharp, and colourful, there are distinct old-school vibes going on. I’m not sure if it’s the simplicity of the 2D sprites or the basic landscapes. Whatever it is, it works brilliantly with both the theme and genre. What’s more, I adored the vivid animations that add to the fantasy approach. On top of this, the well-designed UI prevents the screen from becoming cluttered.
Like the gameplay, the audio differs during each element. As you wander the world, you’ll hear folksy and airy music that creates a calm environment. However, as each battle rages on, you are treated to some hard-hitting, high-energy songs. These bring drama and aggression to each encounter while adding a new dynamic to the gameplay. This is then accompanied by some fantastically loud and crunching sound effects. The developers did an amazing job of incorporating the magical theme within each action.
An easy to play deck-builder.
Some genres perform better on PC, and this is one of them. Because of the menus and levels of detail, it can be tough to use a controller. However, Roguebook performs particularly well on a console. Helped in part by its excellent UI, but the straightforward approach and excellent tutorial made it easy to understand.
I’ve mentioned the repetitive gameplay, and this is a key element. Every time you die, you gain XP to improve your deck of cards. Moreover, on your journey, you’ll find pages of a book that permanently improve your character. This may increase the levels of treasure, healing potions, special shops, and more. Whatever you pick will improve your chances of progressing! Therefore, all these elements combined increases the replay value while adding to the longevity.
Roguebook is a deck-building dream.
There are plenty of great deck-building games to buy. However, Roguebook has to be one of the best! Its straightforward approach makes it easy to understand, while its complexities add tactical elements. Yes, the rogue-lite elements are harsh, but this makes the gameplay extremely rewarding. Moreover, it has an excellent story, interesting characters, and plenty of unique environments to explore. Subsequently, I think it’s phenomenal and I recommend you to buy it here! Can you survive the cursed tome? Pick your heroes, build your deck, and come out fighting.