Book Of Demons wears its inspirations on its book-sleeve. Leaving early access after two and a half years of testing and updates, developers Thing Trunk have wrapped a cute papercraft aesthetic around this clear Diablo tribute. It's an unusual little dungeon crawler - feeling a bit like a real-time version of Card Hunter, it's more about planning and careful use of abilities than other ARPGs. While single player only, it did recently add Twitch and Mixer integration support, allowing stream viewers to help or hinder a streaming player. Stay a while, and see the launch trailer below.
While I've only had a few minutes to play this one for myself (I've got too many action RPGs on my plate, including a huge Path Of Exile expansion to dig into), Book Of Demons has a clear feel of its own. Movement is done along tracks, and you'll auto-attack nearby enemies, although clicking and holding the mouse on them accelerates damage. Enemies with shields need you to click the shield itself, and you can shake yourself out of being stunned by mousing over all the stars circling the screen - it's tactile, even if it's not twitchy. Movement is largely a matter of maintaining range, putting a greater focus on picking the skills appropriate for the fight from a growing deck of skills, items and consumables.
While I'm late to the party, the launch version also includes sixteen new cards and some new end-game surprises. The game offers a flexible approach to play, too. While a full 'roguelike' difficulty mode is included with greater randomisation and much higher difficulty, the default path through the game presents semi-scripted loot and allows you to catch up relatively quickly if you croak. Most interesting is the Flexiscope system, letting you choose how long your next dungeon delve will take you. The shorter you set it, the more condensed the dungeon becomes. You can set it from coffee-break friendly 5-10 minute incursions to sprawling hour-long dungeon crawls between breaks.
Book Of Demons is just the first in a planned seven games sharing this same papercraft aesthetic. While it seem like a great idea on paper (sorry), the "Return 2 Games" series seems perhaps a little ambitious for a small studio, especially considering that this one took two and a half years of testing and refinement before the studio were happy enough to call it done. Hopefully this is just the first chapter, and they won't be closing the book on the series after it.