Book of Travels is like no other video game you’ve played

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Book of Travels is a uniquely enchanting multiplayer experience. By that same token, it’s likely to bamboozle most players, unless they’re willing to lace up their walking boots and listen to a tale or two, all while venturing into the vast unknown.

Swedish studio Might and Delight describe its latest game as an online RPG. Book of Travels isn’t in quite the same lane as MMOs like Final Fantasy XIV or New World, however. Far from it. Instead of mass raids and sprawling social hubs, player interactions are about as rare as they are spontaneous. Having just entered Steam Early Access, Book of Travels: Chapter Zero limits the number of players per server to a modest 7.

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This cuts both ways. Lonelier worlds lend meaning to those chance encounters with other players. Without text chat, you’ll exchange signals and, depending on how you roleplay, kind gestures as your journeys momentarily intertwine.

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On the other hand, Book of Travels often feels like it was designed as a solo game that just happens to have gameplay actions which require input from two or more wanderers.

Speaking of which, we haven’t touched on what you even do in Book of Travels. The emphasis here is storytelling and setting an atmosphere. Crafting your own character from a surprisingly large pool of choices, you’ll enter the Braided Shore with nothing but a lust for adventure and a handful of items.

Although there’s a faintly outlined path to follow, you’re free to chart your own journey through this mysterious, gorgeously hand-painted world. Book of Travels is a true roleplaying experience in that respect, concerned more with the stories and legends you immerse yourself in rather than throwing you a conga line of enemies to kill in the pursuit of grinding experience points.

book of travels review early access screenshot

This isn’t a full-on walking simulator or visual novel. There are familiar systems at play: learning and assigning skills, collecting resources, and bartering with traders for better gear. Experience points are earned, though it’s never made entirely clear how. Instead, there’s a genuine sense that your character develops as they explore and learns about the world around them.

Aside from walking and talking, the actions your character can perform are determined by the skills they acquire during their journey. These skills help define your character, such as being quicker whenever travelling on road, ignoring the debuffs associated with wearing wet clothes, or being able to better gauge the combat stats of nearby NPCs. Of course, Book of Travels features more active skills relating to craft and magic, such as creating a fireplace or even a fast travel portal.

Slow pacing and a deliberate layer of obscurity conspire to make Book of Travels a game that will be truly enjoyed by a minority of players. It’s hard to get a sense of where my character will eventually end up, how they will develop, and what meaningful progress in this game looks like. However, that unique aura it gives off, combined with such superb world building, will have us checking in regularly as we approach version 1.0.

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Senior Editor bursting with lukewarm takes and useless gaming trivia. May as well surgically attach my DualSense at this point.