We all remember our first RPG hack and slash game, dim lighting, eerie music, button mashing, and brandishing our weapons against the hordes of evil that bruised and battered our player character. We inched ever closer to victory, glory, and an urge to play another game like it; which brings us to BOOK OF DEMONS an homage to those older hack and slash games, and the first title in a line of many as part of an ambitious project called Return 2 Games by studio Thing Trunk.
BOOK OF DEMONS is a different approach to the RPG we all remember combining both, hack and slash with deck building and wrapping it up in a bit more of a casual gameplay style. It’s a game meant to introduce new mechanics to an old genre, and offer a new way to play them.
This game and all of the games to come in the Return 2 Games series take place in the Paperverse, a world where all the characters and maps are done in a pop-up storybook style.
You play as either a Warrior, a Rogue, or a Mage returning to your hometown to find it shrouded in darkness and evil rituals happening within the local church. With the help of the townsfolk, you set off on conquering each floor of the catacombs beneath the chapel in hopes of reaching the Archdemon who you have to defeat to cleanse the town of evil. Sound familiar? It should since this game is heavily inspired and makes several nods to the original DIABLO game from 1996.
The bulk of the game is spent moving through the floors below the church, fighting various enemies and discovering loot. You’re on a set pathway as you move forward and your footsteps mark where you have been previously so you don’t have to waste any time going back through an area you’ve already explored. Attacking is mostly point and click occasionally you’ll use a skill with your right click or off your skill bar with whatever key or controller button you have it assigned to. Your skills and items are earned by finding them in chests or off monsters in the form of cards, this is where the deck building aspect comes in. The cards you find are random and have a limited number of uses per visit to the church. Visiting the local fortune teller in town will let you increase the number of uses or recharge empty cards. She’ll also let you upgrade them to stronger or magical versions of the same card which have different effects from the original. The ability to switch cards around mid fight is also useful, allowing you to shift fights into your favor easily. BOOK OF DEMONS also offers a roguelike mode for players who are looking for a serious challenge with the threat of permadeath.
Thing Trunk also introduces a new tool to this game they call Flexiscope, meaning you’re able to decide how long or short you want each session to be. It even begins to learn your play length and will auto set it to how you normally play. It’s a game meant for people who don’t have a lot of time to invest in video games but still want to play them or players who enjoy more casual styles games but want to test the waters of different games and even those who are looking for the nostalgia of the old PC games from the past.
Ultimately It’s not a game designed for players who are looking for a new story or are discovery-drive. It’s a retelling of an old tale in a new format, so some might find it’s not engaging or that it’s tedious. But honestly, I think more developers should take a page from Thing Trunk and work on widening their player base by introducing titles for even the least experienced or schedule bound players, making games as a whole more accessible to everyone. It’ll lead to games having more innovative and interesting mechanics much like this one, and I’m interested to see where Thing Trunk will take the Return 2 Games series. They have to workings of something amazing going on here and we should all keep an eye on what they bring in the future.
And with that signing off Machka