Review – Roguebook (Switch)

Believe it or not, Roguebook is a roguelite game. It’s almost like they named the game after its genre. How clever. Roguebook is a Slay the Spire style roguelite card game. Instead of climbing floors in a tower though, you battle your way through a storybook. Each area has a set of cards you can earn/buy, as well as various ink pots to help you move around, but more on that in a bit. As a whole the concept was really intriguing, especially as someone who has spent way more time on Slay the Spire than is maybe healthy.

Roguebook Yak

Mama yak needs to protecc.

Let’s start with the basic concept of how Roguebook works. Essentially, each page of the storybook you need to progress through is tile based. A set amount of tiles will start uncovered already, usually displaying either towers that can open more tiles for free, or various battles around the pages. There is also a strip of tiles that go from where you start to where the boss of the chapter is, usually with a couple battles in between. You’ll be given five ink pots at the start that uncover a batch of tiles around you, and winning battles can unlock different kinds of ink pots. There are some that uncover a line of three to four tiles in front or front and back, as well as ones that can just uncover one tile at a time. There are also ink pots for your main pot that can make it uncovers a circle where you pick instead of just around your character, or just expands the circle.

While the battles won’t grant cards, there are boxes around the map that will. Unlike most other games though, cards aren’t ever free to earn. Cards gathered from the boxes will run you twenty-five gold, which isn’t horrible as you can find gold from battles, or just on uncovered tiles. You’ll also be able to buy cards at the beginning from a shop, which also sells relics that either affect one character, or the party as a whole. The other thing you’ll earn along the way are gems. Most cards have gem slots, and gems can add various effects to what a card already does, like grant block, power, or additional damage.

Roguebook Shop

At least the shop is kind enough to have cards for both characters in your party.

One big difference from Slay the Spire is that instead of picking one character, you’ll pick two. Each character has their own set of cards, and you’ll need to find a good balance between the two. If one character dies, you’ll be able to revive them as each of their cards will transform into a “song” card. If both characters die, the run is over. Enemies generally only attack the character in the front and cards have keywords, such as charge or retreat to change the order around. When an ally dies in battle it’ll add wounds to your deck each time, so best to be careful as wounds are basically just dead cards. Luckily, upon defeating the chapter boss, your team is healed to full and wounds are removed from your deck.

As you add cards to your deck, you’ll be able to unlock perks for your party. For each perk you’ll be able to select one of either one of your party members, or a perk for the party as a whole, but you’ll need to decide carefully because the two you don’t pick aren’t available anymore. This means mapping out your build can be a careful task, especially with the scaling of enemies in Roguebook. This is the first real negative to look at, as the difficulty spike is unnatural in how ridiculous it is. While the early game can feel a touch simple, by chapter three enemies will suddenly start stacking five to ten power buffs on themselves every turn and hitting your party members for 40-50 damage. One thing Roguebook does feel like it’s missing is effective debuffs for enemies, or at the very least effective blocking cards to negate this. After so many runs, I can likely guess the highest I’ve managed to get my armour is maybe 30.


Battle. Tower. Battle Tower. Frontier confirmed for Gen 9!

Difficulty spikes aside, the other thing to look at is how the game runs as you progress. As you add more cards to your deck, the game seems to slow down more and more, thinking about whether or not the card you played can actually be played. In one boss battle, only in the second chapter mind you, after playing a card I was able to put down my Switch and answer messages before the card actually decided to activate. I grabbed a clip on my Switch, which is only thirty seconds, and the game figuring out if it wanted to actually play the card took up the entire clip. The other downside was an incredibly weird error log pop up, but I was still able to move things in the background. While it was inconvenient, luckily I didn’t lose the run so it wasn’t too bad as a whole.


After all that, I died to a turtle that was buffed with 40 power.

If you need more similarities to Slay the Spire, look no further than the art style. Roguebook really just looks like a brighter, almost more cheerful version of Slay the Spire. It’s hard not to keep making the relation back when it’s such a clear and major influence. The cards are decently well designed, and I do like that a lot of the cards have their own animation so it’s not simply your character nudging forward for every attack.

This is a game you’ll most likely want your own music on for though, there’s not much going on for character sound, and the music itself is a bit dull. Who needs game sound anyways, just pop on some Bergeton and lose yourself in the character building, as long as you have a run where cards don’t take thirty seconds to play, or the game decides to error-log-of-death you.

Roguebook certainly needs some adjustments, between long wait times on cards being played and scaling of difficulty in the later chapters. Those issues aside, however, there’s a lot to love in here. It has some great ideas, beautiful art design, and some fun gameplay… when it decides to run properly. Roguebook has the potential to replace Slay the Spire in this style of game, it just needs some tweaks.


Graphics: 5.5

Taking hints from Slay the Spire is fine, but being a complete knock off just with brighter visuals isn’t exactly groundbreaking.

Gameplay: 8.0

Roguebook is comprehensive enough and definitely a game I will be returning to, especially as tweaks are made. Hopefully there will be more than four characters and only a small batch of cards each before too long.

Sound: 4.0

There really just isn’t much there. Each chapter has it’s own music, but nothing stands out. Characters exist, but haven’t found their voice.

Fun Factor: 7.0

Roguebook certainly needs some adjustments, between long wait times on cards being played, and scaling of difficulty in the later chapters. Roguebook has the potential to replace Slay the Spire in this style of game, it just needs some tweaks.

Final Verdict: 6.5

Roguebook is available now on Nintendo Switch, PC, PS4, Xbox One.

Reviewed on Nintendo Switch.

A copy of Roguebook was provided by the publisher.