[PlayStation 5] Roguebook Review
Roguebook from Abrakam Entertainment and NACON is an excellent roguelike deck-builder on PlayStation 5. Find out why in our Roguebook review!
Roguebook from Abrakam Entertainment and NACON is an excellent roguelike deck-builder on PlayStation 5. I’m a big fan of games such as this one, having spent well over 100 hours playing Slay the Spire as well as Castle Morihisa, so I was definitely ready to dive into the world of Roguebook. This one is a special type of roguelike deck-builder since it’s from the developers of Faeria and from Richard Garfield, who, you know, is the creator of Magic: The Gathering.
Roguebook introduces an interesting twist to the roguelike deck-builder formula by having you take control of not one but two heroes at the same time. The heroes find themselves trapped within the pages of the titular Roguebook. You’ll need to help them find the right strategy to use their decks so that they can overcome all odds and complete each of the book’s chapters by defeating the boss at the portal so that you can eventually reach the last portal that will bring you back to your world.
It uses a similar setup to that of Faeria by presenting you with randomly generated areas to explore, which are composed of hexes. You’ll move your characters on this overworld with the left analog stick or the D-Pad, interacting with events or other characters by pressing the X button. To reveal more of the land, you’ll need to use a paintbrush and ink so that you can color your way towards new spots you can interact with. These will allow you to collect items, such as a potion to block some potential damage or a sword to boost a character’s attack power. You will also find battles you’ll have to complete to carry on.
When in battle, you’ll be controlling both characters at the same time, using a hand with cards that combine their two decks into one. Each card will have a cost associated with it. You’ll need to use energy points to pay for said costs, with a few cards having no cost for you to bring them into action. Cards will be used to attack opponents to deal damage, to add block points to, well, block some of the damage that your characters would otherwise receive. The cards can increase your characters’ strength or allow you to draw extra cards for your hand.
Some events will allow you to add more cards to your deck… for a price. Use the gold you earn during your quest so that you can buy new cards that can help you survive. Adding a card that can increase your block by five points at the cost of zero energy or a card that will give you block equal to the size of your draw pile will certainly help you stay alive for longer. You can also use coins to purchase artifacts that will make a big difference. Boosting your character’s max hit points or drawing a card when dealing damage to more than one enemy when using a single card will certainly be helpful.
Another thing that Roguebook does differently from other roguelike deck-builders is that since you’ll be controlling two characters at the same time, one of them will lead, and the other one will take the back row. This will affect which individual item is in play, and it will also determine which of your heroes takes the lead – and most of the hits as you establish your strategy! If you decide to attack, you’ll deal damage to an opponent or at least lower their block total. But by playing a card that grants your party block, said hero will move to the front, so be careful! Some cards can only be played from the front or the back.
With two characters in play, this also means that you run the risk of one of them being defeated during combat. When this happens, Wound cards will be shuffled into your deck, which will start to clog up your deck, preventing you from activating some of the more useful cards. To bring back your companion, you’ll need to use the Revive Song five times in total for a revive. You will need to be careful since while reviving a companion is a must, you also run the risk of having enemies overwhelm you before you can cast the revive!
Another element you’ll have to balance is Allies. Allies are represented by some of the cards you’ll add to your decks so that you can pay their costs and activate their abilities. Allies will have spirit charges to activate their skills, which include being able to block some of the damage your characters would otherwise receive, dealing damage to enemies when your turn ends, or attacking enemies when certain conditions are met. Some of the cards on your deck might also be affected by how many allies are currently in play.
By collecting more and more cards, you will unlock talents for each of your heroes, as well as for your party. You will only be able to select one talent from each row, so choose wisely! For example, after collecting enough cards and unlocking the first row of talents, you could select between Sharra’s Courageous, which will have her start each battle with 3 points of Courage, which will allow her to gain an extra point of energy at the start of the turn while removing one point of Courage. Sorocco will offer Stone Skin, which increases max health for each card in the deck. There’s also the option of going with the party talent Stoicism, which will allow the party to gain 4 block at the start of each turn until you shuffle your deck.
As you complete events and defeat enemies, you’ll gain crystals – especially when dealing with elite battles. Each car in your deck will have one or more slots for you to take advantage of by placing a crystal in it in order to boost what it can do in battle. For example, take the Blade Dance card. On its own, it will grant deal no damage if used right away, but it will gain 3 damage points for every time the heroes are swapped during combat. But if you add a Raw Ruby crystal and craft the card, it will gain 3 base damage points right from the start! So if you swap characters a couple of times during a boss fight, the next time you use Blade Dance, it will deal 9 points of base damage.
There’s also the option of adding Embellishments to your story in Roguebook so that you can slowly but surely make some progress as you play the game. Each of the pages you find during your adventure can be used to add Embellishments, which will act as permanent boosts that can improve your performance during subsequent runs. You could, for example, have an extra treasure chest in each chapter of the game or have additional hearts in each chapter to heal some of your heroes’ lost health. There’s also the option of boosting each hero’s starting health, increasing the chance of getting rarer cards when opening a vault, or boosting your odds of making a Rune of Sight turn into a Super Rune of Sight to reveal more of the map. You’ll need to unlock some Embellishments before you can boost the rest since they’re presented as a skill tree of sorts, so the more you play, the more pages you’ll get to unlock or boost your Embellishments!
As for the trophies, you can expect to find a full trophy list with a Platinum trophy to add to your collection. The list is split into 47 Bronze trophies, 9 Silver trophies, and 2 Gold trophies, and there are also an extra 3 Bronze trophies and 2 Silver trophies tied to the Fugoro DLC. The trophies for the main game require that you unlock and play all cards for each of the main characters, that you complete the game’s three chapters, defeat all bosses you can find in each of said chapters during your many runs, complete a run with 1,000 gold remaining, beat the game with every pair of characters, reveal 10,000 tiles, visit 500 sky towers – which reveal the tiles around it – or enter 1,000 magic vaults, to name some examples.
Roguebook is an excellent roguelike deck-builder with a very addictive gameplay loop that will keep you busy for dozens of hours on PlayStation 5. With four characters to play as, each with its own decks and abilities to consider, plenty of potential combinations, as well as the randomly generated nature of the game, no run will be the same. This is not going to be an easy Platinum trophy, but it’ll certainly be a fun ride. Roguebook is out on PlayStation 5 with a $29.99 asking price. You could also go all-in and get the Deluxe Edition, which includes the game’s PS4 and PS5 versions, as well as the Fugoro DLC, which adds a new character – which you can check on the video below – as well as alternate costumes for the four main heroes, and an alternate card pack that will give you three exclusive car backs, and 10 alternate card illustrations.
This Roguebook review is based on a PlayStation 5 copy provided by NACON.