Step closer, lover of words, and hear what I have to say. For those of you who push through the veil between mortality and the visual, you may have yet heard of the Book of Hours, a new foray into the world of the mysterious and arcane, developed and published by the ones known as Weather Factory. But is this merely a trifling diversion, or does this enchanting game deserve deeper notice? Follow me, and find out.
In the beginning, you find yourself washed up ashore after a shipwreck. With no memory and no possessions, save for a weary and battered, your journey begins. Answer a few questions, first, to reveal what sort of person you are. Where lie your strengths? What natural skills will help you escape from this terrible situation you find yourself in?
Recollect yourself, then explore the nearby village of Brancrug, where more of this mystery is revealed to you. You will find allies and assistance there before you can unlock the heart of the game: Hush House. Whatever past you might have had, you are a librarian of the occult now, and there is nothing you can do to change that fact. However, there are a multitude of ways in which your path may unfold, and it is up to you to choose your fate, on the back of chance.
Many characters inhabit the village of Brancrug, all of whom are waiting to meet you. From the Kille couple to the Postmistress, every inhabitant has a story to tell. Perhaps, not always a deep and complex story, but such is life. The true story and the characters you will find yourself immersed in are the books you seek to collect and the library you must work steadfastly to repair. You are, it appears, a loner by nature, more comfortable in the company of books than humans.
For those already familiar with the world of Weather Factory, the card system by which the Book of Hours works shall stir up memories of Cultist Simulator. However, you are given a note at the start of your journey: this shall not be as punishing as its predecessor. Despite this notice, true as it is, Book of Hours seeks to challenge you to the hilt. Nothing is straightforward, and familiar though the system of cards may be, it is used in different ways, forcing you to twist your mind and solve many puzzles, some easy and some difficult. The lack of punishment merely comes from the fact that you get to keep your life, should you take a wrong turn or commit mistakes.
Is the challenge fair, you might ask? How will I know what to do? The answer to that, dear reader, is trial and error. Incorrect guessing is not punished in the Book of Hours, and without the incentive to avoid death, you can feel free to explore as you wish, though you may not always get the results that you want. In that way, is the challenge fair.
You may not always have the materials you need to achieve the goals that you wish, but you will always be able to forge ahead on some new path, regardless. Not all paths are for the faint of heart, and certainly, those who seek to overcome challenges by easy means shall find themselves frequently thwarted.
The town of Brancrug and the Tree of Wisdoms are each beautiful in their own way. It is not just the card system that takes inspiration and aesthetics from Cultist Simulator, rather it is the whole of the world of the Book of Hours. With a gentle yet ever-so-haunting soundtrack whispering unfamiliar melodies in your ear, you can then turn your attention to the almost minimalist and yet wildly colorful style of illustration throughout the game.
While backgrounds boast of gentle colors, browns, greens, and deep blues, your cards are resplendent in magenta, teal, orange, and every other brilliant shade of the rainbow. Combined with the minimalism of the art, the colors serve to bring these illustrations to life yet still keep the focus on what is most important - your story.
Book of Hours review | Final Thoughts
Book of Hours is not a game of fancy for the faint of heart, as well as you might have guessed from the developer’s past titles. But it is a sprawling RPG journey, one which you will find yourself wrapped up within, particularly those of you who are equal lovers of books as of games and past times. While the challenge of the journey may get frustrating and difficult, the beauty of the prose and the aesthetic of the illustrations stay gorgeous throughout, inspiring you to keep reaching into the mysterious world just beyond your screen.
Book of Hours was reviewed on PC with a copy provided by the developer over the course of 3.5 hours of gameplay - all screenshots were taken during the process of review.
- Gorgeous Artwork
- Elegant, Haunting Prose, as Expected of Alexis Kennedy
- Sprawling and Complex Stories and Card System
- Challenging Puzzles Can Become Frustrating and Obtuse