Review – Book of Demons (Switch)

Diablo is my favorite game franchise of all time. The addictive gameplay loop, the haunting dark fantasy themes, the satisfying character progression; it became everything I look for in a video game. While the genre has evolved over the years, the ideals Diablo set in stone remain at the core. Book of Demons is both a thoughtful tribute and a loving parody of this legacy. That isn’t all it is though, as original twists on standard action RPG systems allow it to stand as its own game.

Combat

You may be stuck to the path, but there’s so much to keep track of it doesn’t make it easy.

There’s two main changes to the standard action RPG formula, the most significant being the movement system. Instead of standard free movement like most action RPGs, here you navigate via structured pre-generated paths through each level. While it sounds limiting, it actually does a pretty decent job of recreating the claustrophobic feeling of the original Diablo. Positioning is critical, watching your corners and being aware of long stretches of path with no cover is the difference between life and a death. The inability to easily cheese mobs the classic ARPG way requires more strategic play than usual.

UI

It’s a simple system, but it does everything you need it to.

The other change is in how Book of Demons handles equipment, skills, and consumables. Instead of separate systems, they’re all represented through cards. Artifact cards replace equipment, Spell cards are your skills, and Items are consumables. Each comes in three rarities, with higher rarities featuring stronger and more numerous affixes. You can upgrade each card to the next rarity level, either through finding stronger variants in the dungeon or via the simple crafting system. You equip each card to your “hand”, which is essentially the hotbar. Spells and items operate much as you’d expect, via mana costs and item charges respectfully. Artifacts are a little different and instead act as a drain on your mana total. They’re more powerful to compensate for it.

Flexicscope

The Flexiscope is a genius addition to Book of Demons, and the more you play the more accurate the playtime estimate gets.

There are three classes available. The warrior, the rogue, and the mage, the classic RPG trio. Each comes with their own unique set of cards for all three types. In addition, each has their own unique base combat mechanic, from the Warrior’s standard attack to the Mage’s missile barrages. I was honestly surprised at how different each class played from each other; they’re certainly more distinct than they were in the actual first Diablo game. This, coupled with the variety of monster mechanics, such as breaking monster shields to countering elements, creates a far more dynamic game than a lot of other ARPGs. Mashing the attack button will not get you far with any class.

Du Du Duhnua Duh

I can HEAR the Tristram theme playing in all its glory.

Book of Demons is a clever twist on what’s admittedly a very safe genre. While everything looks to work the same as you’d expect, the card and movement systems really do change things up. Not to mention the Flexiscope system, which gives you the ultimate flexibility in playing how you want as well. The real highlight for me though were the callbacks and references to the first Diablo. It felt like going back home and finding everything just where you left it. That the developers managed to channel that feeling without coming off as a knockoff is a testament to their knowledge of the genre and the strength of their personal twists to it.

Graphics: 7.0

Diablo, but in the style of a pop-up book is a look that works surprisingly well.

Gameplay: 8.0

The movement system manages to be challenging without feeling limiting, while a variety of monster mechanics keeps combat fresh.

Sound: 6.5

Voice-acting is cheesy, but in a good way. Soundtrack is decent background noise, but hardly memorable.

Fun Factor: 8.0

The game seems simple at first, but once you get sucked into the gameplay loop it’s hard to escape.

Final Verdict: 7.5

Book of Demons is available now on PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4, and Xbox One.

Reviewed on Nintendo Switch.

A copy of Book of Demons was provided by the publisher.

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