Roguebook Review

Taking a page out of lots of books.

For fans of the deckbuilding genre, the one thing you might need to know about Roguebook is that it comes from the people behind Faeria, and also Richard Garfield, the creator of Magic: The Gathering. The latter fact is probably the bigger deal, to be fair, but I also had a lot of fun with Faeria, a fascinating deckbuilding game where you not only had to creature units, but also the very land they would be standing on.

That these two are coming together is interesting, and the fact that they’ve created a roguelike deckbuilder in Roguebook is also something that definitely appeals to me. I’m sure it appeals to other people too, but I’m a sucker for this genre pairing.

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Have a read

Roguebook game takes place within a book containing the history of Faeria, but due to some bad magic, it’s ended up becoming a little bit evil and trapped you inside – classic book, right? The trouble is, the book shifts and changes constantly, and you’ll actually have to explore its pages to uncover everything around you.

You do this by using a magic brush and magical ink. The brush will reveal the hidden hexes around you, while the ink will apply a variety of effects that’ll either upgrade your brush, or let you reveal a few hexes in a row. It’s an interesting way of doing things, because it means that you can, if you want, rush to the boss. The more common way to play will be to explore and try and grind up a bit first.

As you explore you’ll find upgrades, NPC encounters, special events, and useful items like healing. It’s a fun system, and it’s one of the main things that really helps to define this game and make it stand out from so many other games in this genre.

Make my monster grow

The other things that really set it apart from the usual attack, block, repeat lines of a roguelike deckbuilder, is that you actually have two characters to control, and you can summon help. Both of these things add a little extra touch of flavour to what you’ll be familiar with if you’ve played other games like Slay the Spire.

The characters first. There are four characters to use in Roguebook, and you have to have to choose exactly two of them to start the game. Each character specialises in a couple of different things, and the ways in which they can all compliment each other varies depends on which mechanics you want to focus on. For example. if you pair Sorocco and Seifer, you can either go all-in on Sorocco defending and Seifer attacking, or you can build an army of incredibly buff summons to do your fighting for you.

It allows each run to feel different, as is often the case, but also means you can try and pick the playstyle that you like based on the heroes you decide to join together. It also allows you to revive one of the heroes if they go down by playing special revive cards. This can make some parts of the game slightly easier, but you’ll often find that if one hero goes down, they both will.

Hit the gym

While run-to-run luck still matters, you’ll be happy to know that alongside unlocking new items and cards in-between runs, you also get the chance to unlock permanent upgrades using pages you find in each attempt. Some of these are things like extra health or gold, while others have more powerful effects, like making sure you start with at least one powerful card in each run.

On top of that, you can also mod your cards during your runs by equipping them with gems. Plus, when you hit certain milestones regarding the number of cards in your deck, you’ll be able to choose from three different buffs for your party or individual heroes. There are a lot of systems here that make Roguebook a little more in-depth than it first appears, and that’s always a good thing.

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Summary
Roguebook is a game that will feel crushingly familiar at first, but reveals itself to be more nuanced and interesting the more you play it. It's definitely a fun game, and while it feels like there have been more original roguelike deckbuilders recently, Roguebook is still good fun, and there's enough here to keep you going for a long time if it clicks with you.
Good
  • Fun gameplay loop
  • Some entertaining builds
Bad
  • Feels a little derivative in places
  • Could have had more story integration
8
Written by
Jason can often be found writing guides or reviewing games that are meant to be hard. Other than that he occasionally roams around a gym and also spends a lot of time squidging his daughter's face.