Roguebook Review – Delicious Deckbuilding Goodness, But It’s Not Hard Enough

Roguebook Review – Delicious Deckbuilding Goodness, But It’s Not Hard Enough
Credit: Nacon

Roguebook came roaring out Early Access with an instant controversy: developers that offered day one paid DLC as if they had never seen that go horribly wrong before. Quickly amending their mistake, Roguebook was allowed to flourish with more positive reviews.

It is a Roguelike Deckbuilder. A quiet genre that has been picking up steam ever since the massive success of Slay The Spire, a game that for many still sits atop the throne of its genre. Just this year we’ve already had Tainted Grail and Loop Hero, and now it’s the turn of Roguebook.

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Roguebook does do some things differently, and I should preface this by saying that I’ve enjoyed the game. A lot. Forty hours and counting.

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Instead of a solo character, you play with two in Roguebook. There are different options and playstyles available to each of the heroes – Sorocco, the angry toad-pug, styles on enemies with defensive plays, whereas Aurora, the mystical old turtle lady, summons frogs and protects her allies. The style and charm of the characters is one of Roguebook’s defining qualities.

Each run plays out over the course of three chapters. Every chapter has different monsters and a boss fight at the end, and each has to be explored by using paints and inks to paint the pages of the giant book you find yourself inside. It’s a great addition to the strategy of choosing cards to also have to think about how you’re going to progress through the overworld.

This leads us to one of my biggest problems with the game. Balance and difficulty.

Abrakam, the team behind the game, has already made some good balance changes at the time of writing, but there are things about the game that make it feel much easier than its challenging compatriots. In a genre that relies on its replayability, that lack of difficulty is actually one of Roguebook’s biggest weaknesses.

Card removal doesn’t exist, and in fact, much of the strength of your deck comes from the sheer number of cards inside, with unlockable talents based on the size of your deck. This sort of leaves you feeling like you should just stuff your deck with cards, meaning you often stumble into a successful deck rather than craft it, like in Slay The Spire, where card choice is the entire foundation of the game.

Roguebook’s Epilogue system is basically its Ascension difficulty. The game does get harder as you progress through the tiers, although nothing has quite got me pulling my hair out like an Ascension 18 run (the highest I’ve ever got) of Slay The Spire.

In fairness to Roguebook, comparing it endlessly to Slay The Spire doesn’t do the game justice. It does plenty differently, and better, than the game that looms over it. Progression feels more rewarding, with a different way to improve your deck and overall runs, and the entire open-world concept is very refreshing, although Tainted Grail also dipped into this recently.

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Overall, Roguebook is pretty much a must-play if you’re a fan of the genre, more Slay The Spire, more Monster Train, more of the same delicious deck-building goodness. Just don’t expect to get as rewarded, or frustrated, or even as addicted, as you were to its more challenging compatriots.