The Castle Doctrine is a massively-multiplayer game of burglary and home defense. It's 1991, and things are bad. You're a guy with a house and family. Other players are coming to take what's yours. Build security to stop them. Study their houses, buy tools, and break in to take what's theirs. Everything you do is permanent.
User reviews: Mixed (279 reviews)
Release Date: Jan 29, 2014

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Recommended By Curators

"A merciless and thoughtfully-designed online strategy game whose clever systems enable a unique and troubling experience."
Read the full review here.

Reviews

“A powerful, memorable game.”
Alec Meer --- Rock, Paper, Shotgun

“Merciless and thoughtfully-designed... A brilliant but horrifying depiction of a risk society at war with itself.”
85/100 – Patrick Carlson --- PC Gamer

“The most disturbing game I've ever played.”
Russ Pitts (discussing his 5/10 Polygon review)

About This Game

The Castle Doctrine is a massively-multiplayer game of burglary and home defense. It's 1991, and things are bad. You're a guy with a house and family. Other players are coming to take what's yours. Build security to stop them. Study their houses, buy tools, and break in to take what's theirs. Everything you do is permanent.

I'm Jason Rohrer, and The Castle Doctrine is my 10th game. It's a bit hard to describe, because there's never been anything quite like it before. It's a brutal game in terms of its perma-death and perma-destruction consequences, and it is turn-based, so it's rather Rogue-like. But building such a brutal game in a multiplayer context, with absolutely no cushion between players to stop them from brutalizing each other, is quite strange and new.

Everything is real in this game. When you rob someone, you are actually hurting another player in a permanent way by destroying and stealing their hard work. When someone dies in this game, they lose everything and start over. If you devise perplexing security systems, you can perma-death other players when they come to rob you. Watching those security tapes, where someone gets what's coming to them, is an exhilarating experience. On the other hand, you just killed someone and perhaps caused them to lose days of their hard work. And you've been on the other side too, losing everything because of some thoughtless move you made in someone else's house.

But there is no randomness in this game, so everything is fair. When you die, it is always your fault. When things get dicey, you can always retreat back out the front door to save your own neck. Of course, human folly will get the better of you.

Here's what you get when you buy the game:

  • A lifetime account on the central world server that I'm running.
  • Access to the full game source code (after launching the game on Steam, go here).
  • Everything you need to run your own game server (requires a PHP/MySQL web server, download the source bundle to get started).

System Requirements

PC
Mac
Linux
    Minimum:
    • OS: XP or later
    • Processor: 900 MHz
    • Memory: 40 MB RAM
    • Graphics: Onboard Graphics
    • Network: Broadband Internet connection
    • Hard Drive: 10 MB available space
    • Sound Card: Standard Audio
    Minimum:
    • OS: 10.5 or later
    • Processor: 900 MHz
    • Memory: 40 MB RAM
    • Graphics: Onboard Graphics
    • Network: Broadband Internet connection
    • Hard Drive: 10 MB available space
    • Sound Card: Standard Audio
    Minimum:
    • Processor: 900 MHz
    • Memory: 40 MB RAM
    • Graphics: Onboard Graphics
    • Network: Broadband Internet connection
    • Hard Drive: 10 MB available space
    • Sound Card: Standard Audio
    • Additional Notes: Binary was built on Ubuntu 12.04
Helpful customer reviews
9 of 9 people (100%) found this review helpful
0.2 hrs on record
Posted: October 25
Pointless to buy this game now, the community is not as active as it was and this hurts the game completely.
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4 of 4 people (100%) found this review helpful
9.3 hrs on record
Posted: October 13
The Castle Doctrine is a brilliant game, and I love playing it. At least, building my house.

Because this game can kill you with one single mistake (even in your own home), and cause you to start from scratch, it is pointless to try and rob someone else, unless you are not trying to prevent people from robbing you.

Robbing others is not fun at all because of this reason, and thus I only rob noobs who still have $2000 and no defences, to build up my own. If you expect to be able to rob, well, this game is not for you.
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4 of 4 people (100%) found this review helpful
5.3 hrs on record
Posted: October 26
It was a really good game! The thing is it "was" a good game and it still is. The only problem is the community is dead I tried it out again today, and... 8 houses were present, that's it! I would not recommend it in it's current state
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4 of 5 people (80%) found this review helpful
84.5 hrs on record
Posted: October 14
As a "rouge like", expect to lose all progress.
It's fun for a little while, but then the interest curve off and die off quickly.

Interesting, but not recommended for long term enjoyment.
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1 of 3 people (33%) found this review helpful
15.8 hrs on record
Posted: October 30
♥♥♥♥ this guy, and this game.
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1 of 5 people (20%) found this review helpful
1.9 hrs on record
Posted: October 3
the game is a interesting one. It is fun as well as rage inducing at some times but every game has you rage at some point. The only real problem with the game right now is the lack of players. I hope this changes soon. The best part about the game is watching the misfortune of other people trying to rob you or when you rob some one who's traps have killed many and they have tons of money. There is perma death in this game, thats where the joy of watching some one die to your traps comes from but also the rage of dieing to some one else's traps.

over all its a good game in my humble opinion.
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1 of 5 people (20%) found this review helpful
39.7 hrs on record
Posted: October 14
Great game! Easy to get used to but challenging content. It isn't easy to find a game that has Castle Doctrine's dynamic.
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0 of 4 people (0%) found this review helpful
0.2 hrs on record
Posted: October 7
- 7/10 - but not for all! :-\
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0 of 4 people (0%) found this review helpful
10.1 hrs on record
Posted: October 28
Nice game. Wish you could save your houses though as its a pain in the ♥♥♥ when you die while testing them. ruins the gameplay.
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50 of 53 people (94%) found this review helpful
40.3 hrs on record
Posted: September 5
In this current state The Castle Doctrine is dead. This game lacks new players which every MMO game needs. At the time i'm writing this review, only 20 houses are available, and almost all of them are the experienced players so it's almost impossible for a new player to get used to it. In my opinion, it's developer's fault, who thinks this game doesn't need sales. Just don't buy it.
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34 of 37 people (92%) found this review helpful
18.0 hrs on record
Posted: May 29
Don't bother. There is plenty of cheating. Some people even bought the game for two accounts so they could ghost and get insider information into peoples layout. Since it's release, the playerbase has fallen apart. I was so excited for this. This game was brought to its knees by the dev's personal politics and his failure to close some basic gaps.
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21 of 24 people (88%) found this review helpful
0.9 hrs on record
Posted: June 14
The Castle Doctrine had a very nice thought, yet was terribly executed.

For one, the game is hyper-realistic. when trying to get to your vault by testing your traps, you can actually die by your traps. And I mean literally die, so you have to start all over again. even the smallest change to your house will make you test it again. Another thing is that you can give your wife a shotgun as a defense, and she will kill you.

Next, there is interface. While playing, I felt very, very enclosed. no real menus, you only get to see one kind of screen, and most of the time it's just black darkness. It alwas uses re-ocurring colors like grey, orange, dark cyan and black. it seems very bland and boring to just look at.

Graphics aside, we are onto gameplay. My gosh, is it hard to even take a step. you start off in house with your wife and kids and $2000. You can either use the money to build your house, or you can use it to get robbing equipment. Oh, and by the way, the main premice of the game is to rob people or steal robbers' bounty. You can go to the list of countless people and rob their houses, but you know you can't. Somehow, someway, everyone on that list has figured out the perfect way to protect thier house and get tons of ca$h. So how do you win? You can't. You'll try , but after about 5 minutes you realise that no mattter what you try to do, it's impossible to get more than your base $2000.

To sum it up, The Castle Doctrine is not worth half it's price. It's badly made, which will make you expect much more. But no, I pretty much told everything in this review. I thing the price for $16 dollars asking for waaaayy to much, so it should be down to $5. Anyways, the promotional sale was literally the only discount ever on this game.It's literally in the announcement. So if you have $16 to burn, do NOT use it here. Please use it somewhere else. Thank you.
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17 of 18 people (94%) found this review helpful
0.9 hrs on record
Posted: May 13
It's neat, but incredibly frustrating. You build a complex fortress to hide your cash and keep your family safe. But if you die you lose all your progress. So the more time you put into your base the less incentive there is to go and test other people's bases. A cool idea, that could have benefitted from some fleshing out. Simply wasn't what I want in a game.

If you like uber roguelikes, where you put in hours of work and die before you can achieve anything. Then it's for you.
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35 of 51 people (69%) found this review helpful
18.6 hrs on record
Posted: July 24
http://www.falsegravity.com/?p=572

This is why I now hate this game. I loved it at first, but I won't let minutely novel gameplay override my principles. Think what you will, that's your choice - I've made mine.
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8 of 9 people (89%) found this review helpful
0.6 hrs on record
Posted: September 25
I bought this game a while back. I thought it seemed like a cool idea, and it comes with the full code of the game to do whatever you want with. The developer included that with it.

It's a pretty interesting concept but as other reviews say, the game is dead.

Don't buy it.
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4 of 4 people (100%) found this review helpful
4.0 hrs on record
Posted: July 20
I was really excited about the idea of this game. The author did a good job of providing a sense of "hype" to those of us that enjoy old-school looking and brutally difficult games.

However, in no way did this game deliver what I had thought it was going to be. The author often touted how he doesn't believe in Steam sales and I thought that was respectable so I preordered to get a small discount. Big mistake. It's rare I regret game purchases, but this is some major buyer's remorse here. This game is about as bare-bones as it can get. It's esoteric, which I can enjoy (in, say, Dark Souls), but to a fault. You have to spend time designing a trap for your home and you have to be able to pass your own trap in order to "set it". This is sensible, since we obviously don't want people to make impossible traps. But that doesn't really prevent the creation of "impossible" traps. It's very easy to create a set of traps that are 100% guess work and one step in the wrong direction and it's impossible to escape.

At the end of the day, this just isn't a fun or good game. It looks, feels and plays like a high-school project. I absolutely do not recommend this game to anybody.
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5 of 6 people (83%) found this review helpful
2.6 hrs on record
Posted: June 1
is it bad ? or was i just too stupid to enjoy it ??? welcome to the scary world of massively-multiplayer high-concept gaming
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3 of 3 people (100%) found this review helpful
5.7 hrs on record
Posted: May 27
[4/10]

This game has a new concept that I would like to see more of, but the excecution is quite poor. Defending your own house is as simple as using a combination lock. This means to be successful, you have to use tools that cost much more than the eventual gain. (That means buying several 500 dollar saws) Not fun, only infuriating
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3 of 3 people (100%) found this review helpful
35.3 hrs on record
Posted: June 16
The developer just wants you to die in the most frustrating ways possible, without ever trying to give the player any sort of reward or incentive to go on. Too bad, because the idea was pretty great.
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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
3.7 hrs on record
Posted: September 16
DO NOT BUY THIS!
Here's Why:
annoying movement
permadeath
if you die in everyone else's house, you cannot play anymore
its hard to spend like 3 hours on an eloborate maze and then die to some guy's electric floor trap
there is no difference between many items, though some do cost more
the wires can be annoying too
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