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Steam Game Festival 2021: Roguebook hands-on preview

The creator of Magic: The Gathering has something a little more whimsical in mind for his next game, though it'll still require some card-battling intellect. We take a look at Roguebook.


Roguelike deck-builders have grown in number over the past couple of years. Publisher Nacon is looking to throw its hat in the ring and who better to help them than the mind behind Magic: The Gathering? Nacon has banded together with developer Abrakam Entertainment, which includes original MtG creator Richard Garfield, to introduce Roguebook, a PvE card battler with a bit of a twist. Shacknews recently gave it a look just ahead of its Steam Games Festival debut.

Roguebook's concept will sound familiar to those who have played games like Slay the Spire. Players will take part in encounters and a deck of cards containing various actions and magic spells will have to carry them through. Enemies have their own actions available to them and taking them down requires offensive and defensive strategy.

What looks to set Roguebook apart from its contemporaries is a fairy tale setting. Players step into an enchanted world, where much of the tile-based map is covered up, not unlike a fog of war in an RTS game. Revealing more of the map involves using an inkwell and a brush, of which players get limited strokes. They can unlock more brushes as they defeat enemies and progress in the world, which in turn will allow for greater exploration opportunities. Unconvering more of the map can offer up rewards, rare encounters, shops, story instances, and more.

The actual combat is standard fare for anybody who's played games like Magic: The Gathering, Hearthstone, or the aforementioned Slay the Spire. Success will revolve around skilled use of cards, but also on how well players can upgrade their decks in-between encounters. There's a party system that opens up new deck possibilities, but for the Steam Games Festival demo, only one companion is available. This lone companion did give me a taste of what to expect, as he had his own character ability, which in this case involved getting two Armor points at the end of each turn. He also has his own powerful cards, one of which lets him deal eight damage to three random targets.

Those who loved Slay the Spire, the upcoming Griftlands, and Magic: The Gathering will want to keep an eye on Roguebook. Its storybook aesthetic offers a fresh take on this genre and the card mechanics are easy to understand, but deep enough to stay engaging. It's playable now for the Steam Games Festival, but it's full version will release on June 24.

This preview is based on an early Steam demo build provided by the publisher. Roguebook’s demo will be available in the Steam Game Festival 2021 and the game will launch on June 24, 2021 on PC via Steam. It will release on other platforms at a later date.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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