As someone who enjoyed Slay the Spire when I heard positive things about a new roguelike deck builder game called Roguebook last year when it released on PC, I was very interested. It comes from developer Abrakam Entertainment who made Faeria and Richard Garfield who is of course the creator of Magic: The Gathering. Roguebook has finally just released recently on PlayStation and Xbox and I got to check the PlayStation 5 version out for this review. In short, It’s very addictive.
Roguebook starts out with your first playable character Sharra waking up to find that she has been trapped inside a magical tome. The second playable character Naddim, a beastly creature, explains this to her as well as explaining that the only way to escape is to use magical ink to navigate the pages and take down creatures guarding a portal to the next page until they finally reach the end and escape. The story really wasn’t that important to me but it set up the general reason of why you are doing what you are in this game. There are four playable characters in total with a fifth being available as paid DLC. Each character has their own special abilities and cards that only they can use. You’ll gain access to the third playable character Seifer after beating the first boss in the game while the fourth character, a turtle named Aurora, can be unlocked much later.
One of the coolest things about Roguebook is how you traverse the world. Each page is set on a grid made up of many tiles and you uncover each tile using the magic ink and paintbrushes. Ink can be used to draw a line to reveal the tiles in said line or used to just reveal one tile. Paintbrushes allow you uncover a huge area all at once. Each part of the grid that you reveal will show you enemies, new cards, gold, events, and more. Because of the way this is designed you are given freedom of how you want to go about your way. If you want to head straight for the boss on the page you can do that or if you rather spend time trying to uncover more of the grid to find better cards or amass gold to buy better stuff you can do that too. Of course, the more you explore the more you put yourself at risk of dying but that is part of the beauty of this game. I should also mention that you gain the ink that you are using from battles and that’s where another element of Roguebook that makes it stand out comes into play.
Battles in Roguebook have you using two characters in your party instead of one. This means that each one has their own set of cards to use. Something I liked about the game is that the game does a great job of describing what each card and thing does so that you are never lost. You have both offensive and defensive cards and these can be further improved by slotting gems into them. Gems provide additional effects so that if a card was only going to do so much damage before, a gem may cause it to also deal an additional set of a different type of damage. This opens up some fun possibilities and it was always fun to see what kind of combinations I could come up with. The gameplay is very strategic too as I had to think a couple steps ahead at all times to ensure I didn’t die. Much like Slay the Spire, Roguebook lets you see what your opponent’s next move is going to be so you can plan how to best counter it before they make it. That may include moving your character’s position from the front to the back or casting some kind of debuff so that you don’t take as much damage. Even when things didn’t work out for me and I ended up dying, which will happen to you a lot in this game, I never felt like quitting as it was fun to jump back into another run and see what kind of different things could happen. There are permanent upgrades too you can unlock that carry over between runs as well as having access to the different characters that you unlocked from the get-go. In short, even in death you end up feeling like you are steadily making progress towards conquering this book.
The visuals in Roguebook are just as enticing to look at as the gameplay is addictive. Everything from the environments to the character designs has a colorful painting like look to it. There is a lot of variety in the creatures too from raccoons on catapults, human bandits, turtles, dragon-like creatures, and so much more. The game also has a very pleasant orchestrated score along with some satisfying sound effects when your characters are landing attacks on foes. Trophy hunters will find the game has 52 base game trophies with some additional ones available with the DLC. It will be a hard Platinum to earn with a lot of the trophies asking you to perform certain actions so many times.
Roguebook will be right up your alley if you are a fan of Slay the Spire or deck building games in general. It’s got a beautiful fantasy world that is fun to navigate using the ink mechanic and the different playable characters and card variety makes the battles very strategic. Sure, some runs seemed doomed to failure from the start but I always wanted to jump back onto the page to give it another go.
*Roguebook is available now on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series, Xbox One, and PC. PlayStation 5 version reviewed. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review.
- Beautiful artwork and animation
- Addictive roguelike deck building gameplay
- Battles are strategic and there are so many possibilities you keep wanting to play even when you die
- Fun ink based map navigation mechanic
- Sometimes you feel like you have no chance of succeeding on a run
- Wish it had more playable characters