Roguebook is a newer entry in the deckbuilder roguelike genre and also happens to be my entry point into the genre. Despite being a huge fan of roguelikes & roguelites, this was the first one to peak my interest enough to try it right away. Now after spending more than 15+ hours with Roguebook, I can say it’s a great game for new & veteran players alike. However, there are a few issues that hold Roguebook back from being a perfect game.
Entertaining & Diverse gameplay. You choose between 2 characters to use in each run from a total of 4 (2 are unlockable). You lose a run once both of your characters run out of HP.
Every character has a unique ability and a completely different set of obtainable cards that encourage the player to try out each character multiple times.
Each run (game session) is divided into 3 levels with the goal of defeating the boss in each of the three to win your current run.
Every run has the same 3 levels in the same order, but the placement of enemies changes along with which boss you fight at the end of each level.
Movement takes place across an overworld where you actively click on tiles around the map to move to them. Most of the map is covered when a level begins and you use your paint brush (which has limited uses) and paints you find to uncover other spaces.
Combat is done by selecting cards from your deck and dragging them on the enemy you want to attack. Each card has an energy value and you only have so much energy each turn. Your two characters are each positioned on the field one in the front and one in the back.
Cards have different effects such as hitting multiple opponents, causing bleed, and healing you from damage. Defense cards are also an essential part of the Roguebook experience as some turns enemies will hit with enhanced attacks and the best course of action will be to dodge.
Roguebook allows each of its cards to be customized by finding gems throughout a level. Gem’s can be slotted into cards to gain extra abilities. Examples: Costing one less energy when character is in front, Retaining card in your hand after use etc.
Enemies are broken up into two types of encounters, normal and elite. Elite encounters are like mini-bosses and when defeated drop an extra paint brush and an artifact or gems. Normal enemies drop regular ink when defeated. The mix between normal and elite fights adds great diversity in how you tackle different battles.
Each enemy is slightly different from the last and have different abilities and effects that are worth looking out for. You’ll have to develop new strategies to take on each type of enemy. For example some enemies attacks will debuff your character, while others will burn them requiring them to swap places with their partner to avoid taking tons of damage.
Roguebook has a unique mechanic that incentivizes you to pickup new cards. The more cards in your deck the more skills you get to choose from a random skill tree that is provided in each run. Often, you’ll have to weight the pros & cons of picking up a card that doesn’t work with your current deck in order to gain a new ability.
Artifacts are equipment that can be found on random tiles that provide extra bonuses to your characters. They’re usually spawned off the beaten path of a level and require players to put the effort in to make a path to them.
Around the map are other events that can be found such as: Picking up gold, Transmuting cards, Finding healing capsules, & Chasing after a thief who steals your artifacts. Events add great variety and help make exploring the Overworld interesting.
Pages can be found across each level and from beating bosses. You can use pages after each run to purchase permanent bonuses from the game’s skill tree.
When a run is finished the two characters you used gain experience points and level up. The level up’s do not increase any stats, but they do unlock new cards that can be found in your next run.
After completing a run you unlock NG+. There are 15 levels of NG+ (called epilogues) and there are special modifiers that you can activate to have increasingly difficult run’s.
The modifiers are really interesting and shake the gameplay up significantly. Examples are (Making Elite battles unskippable, hurting you when you pickup gold, etc.)
For those interested in achievements, Roguebook has 56 achievements which will take the average player at least 20-25 hours to earn them all.
Roguebook boasts an excellent storybook style art design. Particularly the enemy designs really stand out as the elite monsters and bosses have very unique designs.
Many deckbuilders do not have meta-progression and even though the meta-progression doesn’t give a huge advantage some players may be put off it.
The soundtrack and sound effects aren’t anything to write home about.
Elite battles feel unbalanced. Many elite battle monsters will chip away a large amount of your health especially on higher difficulties. While they do provide better loot I found myself usually avoiding them on higher difficulties as they weren’t worth losing tons of health to.
Characters need more levels with added rewards such as cosmetic for characters or more cards to unlock. This would increase replay value beyond the epilogues.
Semi-frequent bugs and crashes. Roguebook has come a long way since launch, however it still suffers from crashes mid-run and save corruptions. The team is actively working on patching these issues, but as of now it’s still an issue.
Having an extra level that could be swapped in and out every run would make each run feel a little unique, since playing the same 3 levels each run in the same order can get repetitive.
Visuals & Sound ✓
Replay Factor/Bang For Your Buck ✓
Unique Game Design ✓
Overall, Roguebook is a nice addition to the deckbuilder genre that does enough to carve it’s own place among the bests. The balancing and technical issues hold it back from being a perfect game, but overall if you’re a fan of deckbuilder’s or are looking for an interesting new game to try, I don’t think you can go wrong with Roguebook.
Steam link: https://store.steampowered....