I recently picked up Sweden-based developer Might and Delight’s Book of Travels, an enigmatic little indie early access title that caught my eye. It’s easy to get swept up in the appearance and presentation of Book of Travels at first glance. It has a beautifully individual art style, and the description of the gameplay is mysterious. So I wasn’t sure what it would be. The word TMORPG stood out in particular, this term denoting that my experience would, in fact, be tiny rather than massive. But all the same, it is an online roleplaying game that offers immersion and non-linear expressive gameplay, so I knew instantly I had to spend some time with it, and I’m quite glad I did.
Join The Book of Travels and become a part of a unique social roleplaying experience that doesn’t hold your hand. Inspired by genre classics, this is a serene adventure that sets you adrift in a fairytale world… but it’s also an invitation to roleplay without the restraints of linear missions and plotlines. Feel at liberty to travel the free wilds and vivid cities of the Braided Shore peninsula. Wander deep into the layers of this hand-drawn world, stumble upon its hidden places or unravel one of its many mysteries. There is no overarching goal, no real beginning or end, but for mortal characters the stakes can be highMIght and Delight, Developers
Book of Travels: An Early Access Journey
First and foremost, Book of Travels is early in development. There are issues. I played nearly on release and encountered more than a couple of bugs, some even causing me to bunker down and reboot my game. This didn’t stop me from enjoying my time though, and within a week, much to my joy, the developers patched several of the problem areas. The game immediately felt better, and they’ve done an excellent job of consistently making it better each time I’ve played since. So, as per usual with an Early Access game, head into it aware there are issues but also in this case be reassured that the developers proactively care.
The game itself is tough to categorize, caught somewhere between a classic RPG and a wholesome walking simulator. Character creation is simple and evocative, introducing you to terms and cultures of the setting, the Braided Shore, while not entirely explaining what every background boon or ability will do.
There’s some mystery even to your own character, a wandering traveler carrying meager accommodations. Maybe you start with a cane and lantern, or perhaps you start with a recipe for tea you don’t quite understand. Every item in the game is valuable in its own way, all of them having distinctive qualities and stats that change your character and the way you socialize with the world. Item gathering and bartering is a massive part of the gameplay loop, which otherwise consists of traveling roads and rivers between towns, learning skills and spells from fellow travelers, and brewing the tea recipes you find. While there’s enough there to keep me entertained, the multiplayer aspect of Book of Travels is also intriguing.
Not Quite An MMO
There are many reasons that Book of Travels is worth an early access purchase, in my opinion. The setting is fantastic, and every field, river ferry, and long road between towns feels packed with a thriving and changing world. Realtime day-night cycles elude to events that can only be encountered during the proper playtime and with the right people. The multiplayer is fascinating, as you’re in small servers with select numbers of players. The open-world is so built around journeying that I would often abandon my current venture to follow along with another player and aid them on their respective journey.
There’s something pleasant and genuinely endearing about stopping to share some skills with a traveler on the road. Maybe someone is caught in the rain, and you happen to have a recipe for a campfire and cup of tea? Of course, you would share it with your fellow traveler. That’s what the game is all about, after all, isn’t it? Book of Travels highlights our desire for the journey and experience, and the destination is a lovely rendered afterthought.