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 (319 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

Windows
Mac OS X
SteamOS + 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
47 of 53 people (89%) found this review helpful
5.5 hrs on record
Posted: December 12, 2014
I wouldn't advise purchasing. What is the point of purchasing to play when only maybe 8 people are playing? This is a multiplayer only game. Some stats following.


Month Avg. Players Peak Players
Last 30 Days 2.1 8
November 2014 2.4 8
October 2014 2.5 9
September 2014 3.1 8
August 2014 3.1 8
July 2014 5.0 13
June 2014 4.8 12
May 2014 7.8 22
April 2014 13.9 31
March 2014 22.3 53
February 2014 84.2 298
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21 of 24 people (88%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
1.7 hrs on record
Posted: January 3
The Castle Doctrine has two basic game modes; in one, the player constructs a sophisticated system of traps to protect their valubles, and in the other, they atempt to overcome the traps of other people. This was a solid game premis, but is unfortunately spoiled by extremely unbalanced and difficult gameplay.
In general, although the game effectively conveys what Extra Credits refer to as 'mechanics as metaphore', it would be nice if the game were actually fun. Unfortunatly, the game far too effectively convey's a sense of hopelessness, depravity, sadness, and poverty by essentially wringing the player for effort - one can spen hours building a good home, only to die and instantly loose everything. Or they can die over and over and over again trying to break into other peoples houses only to find that their princess is in another castle - I mean, that person didn't have any money anyways.
In summary, if you want a game that will make you feel sad, want to give up, or hang yourself in front of your children (and yes, that is an in game option), this game will convey those feelings with extreme prejudice.
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13 of 13 people (100%) found this review helpful
33.3 hrs on record
Posted: December 27, 2014
This game was great at its peak with many players. You would enjoy building your house and make a maze of deadly traps to watch via tapes later to see how people died only to enrich you further. But what you see now is a handful of people playing with a high priced game. The time I spent on it originally was well worth what I purchased it for but when the community is dead on a solely multiplayer game there's no way to recommend this game. What the dev needs to do is extremely slash the price for awhile to inject more players into this game. Until then you'll see the same type or reviews, fun but no one to play with.
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12 of 13 people (92%) found this review helpful
56.3 hrs on record
Posted: November 30, 2014
Game was fun enough in the past, but now there's so few houses around it is all but unplayable.
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9 of 9 people (100%) found this review helpful
86.2 hrs on record
Posted: December 15, 2014
Nobody Plays It!
And therefore, although it was ONCE a brilliant game, it is now impossible to play and will likely never will be possible to play, as for some reason there will never be another sale to bring in new players.
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8 of 8 people (100%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
5.5 hrs on record
Posted: December 23, 2014
Massive online multiplayer?

there's like, 8 people.

Seriously do not bother with this one!
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6 of 6 people (100%) found this review helpful
4.2 hrs on record
Posted: December 5, 2014
It's Dead. Simple as that.
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6 of 6 people (100%) found this review helpful
55.0 hrs on record
Posted: December 25, 2014
I played this game a year ago and it is completely not worth playing any more. The community is dead and only rich players who ruin your new house when it gains any value remain. I have not been able to let my house sit while I sleep without being reduced to 0 worth as of late.

Since I don't have the luxury of time to camp my house hour after hour, the game is broken for me. It was fun while it lasted. I hope this type of game gets a reboot with more content.
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8 of 10 people (80%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
78.3 hrs on record
Posted: April 24
I'm not sure how many of you will see this, but here it goes... I imagine you're asking yourself "do I want this game?" and having second thoughts after reading a handful of negative reviews about how "dead" the community is.

This, DOESN'T MATTER. there are active players and they will be enough, trust me. In the brevity of time I spent on the game it consumed me. It was the only thing on my mind until I accidently killed myself and walked away.

I was always checking if someone had attacked me, had they succeded, improving my defenses, repairing damage done. It is incredibly addicting, you have been warned.

Within two weeks I had spent 77 hours on this game, it may have been just one week... I can't really remmeber. I would have Castle Doctrine open on the side while I played other games, checking every time I finished a game of League of Legends or Hearthstone. Had I been attacked? What happened?

The message I'm trying to tell you is that while there might not be too many people running around, they are there, and you should be afraid. Just because you're not online doesn't mean you can't be attacked. As well as the fact that this game can be insanely addicting, (it was for me).

... Oh god writing this review... I've been drawn back in.
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3 of 3 people (100%) found this review helpful
24.7 hrs on record
Posted: January 6
If this game was about $1 I would say go for it maybe at that price the community would come back to life. But sadly this game is $16 and the Developers have long ago abandoned it along with it's entire community. The Idea of this game was really great and I enjoyed it greatly but it had a very big flaw in the game where it was extremely hard to get more money except for waiting for new players to join and not know how to play and steal their stater 2k. If you some how got lucky and had tons and tons of money you would end up making this crazy impenetrable fortress of timers and traps that no one could ever break into. The Poor would stay poor and the Rich would get richer. I greatly enjoyed the satisfaction of making a maze full of traps and watching people try my maze along with finally breaking through a house but it was very rare it was either rich people or broke people and the Developers did nothing about it and let the game die and kept the price for the very low developed game very High. This game is impossible to play with out other players and it's dead don't buy it unless it's $1 for that faint chance they try to save this game.
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3 of 3 people (100%) found this review helpful
0.7 hrs on record
Posted: January 19
This game has the possibility of being good but it is extremely hard to get anyway in this game. i would not recommend getting this game.
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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
4.0 hrs on record
Posted: January 28
The Castle Doctrine has been out for a year, and it's dead. The developer's statement "Sales screw your fans" means simply that this game has not seen any new players and any old players have long since stopped playing. This game requires players to be worth anything. Right now it is a ghost town. When it first came out, I would have certainly suggested a buy, but that's when there were people playing.

I ask, what is more important for your customers: making sure the game they purchased stays relevant and populated, or "screwing" your fans with a sale later in its lifecycle?

Don't buy this game. It doesn't work as intended. It won't work because the developer decided so.
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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
0.5 hrs on record
Posted: February 19
This game is dead. It was an fun concept while it lasted but the developer has massively overpriced this title. There just aren't any new players. As a title that requires online players to actually function in any real capacity buying it now would be a waste of money. Maybe if the price is ever dropped to about half of what it is now.
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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
2.4 hrs on record
Posted: March 2
Do NOT buy this game! At this point, anyone that buys this game is being robbed. The game revolves around being able to steal items and money from other people to build up your own defences. Sounds good right? It would be, but the few people that are still in the game are near impossible to rob with the crap items you are able to buy straight off. You are able to rob less than 20 people at the moment. These remaining people range from being so easy that there is no reward, or a complex structure that will kill you if you make a single mistake, there is NO in between.

Back in this games golden days, this could've been an entertaining game. It had an interesting concept with only one problem, it RELIES on people playing the actual game! there are no NPC's that you can rob for a small ammount of cash, and there's nothing to get you off of the bottom of the food chain.

You lose the game the second you click the buy button.
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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
11.2 hrs on record
Posted: February 21
Very repetative, very fast. It'd be nice if you had a save design feature.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
163.2 hrs on record
Posted: February 2
It was once a great game... However... this game is no-longer supported.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
16.8 hrs on record
Posted: January 31
Amazing when it started, terrible now though since there is not a big enough community to keep the gameplay fun anymore.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
11.7 hrs on record
Posted: February 1
I bought this game because the idea looked great, but after playing for a while I got very disapponted.
The gameplay is totally unballanced and the idea of losing EVERYTHING on death is just bad. Furthermore the game is highly overpriced in comparison to it's quality.

I strongly don't recommend this game.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
14.3 hrs on record
Posted: January 7
This game is bad and dead.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
8.1 hrs on record
Posted: May 1
I want my money back
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