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 (326 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
21 of 33 people (64%) 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.

*Edit* The game is always hardcore, you die, you start over from scratch. The game isn't afraid to drop you on your head and let your brain spill out. You died verifying your own defenses? Start from scratch, died trying to rob someone? Start from scratch, somebody killed your family, stole all your possesions, and now you have no reason to live? Suicide and enjoy starting off with a new family. a new safe, an empty house, and 2k (scratch, square one, however you want to say it).
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5 of 7 people (71%) found this review helpful
69.5 hrs on record
Posted: April 4
I'm going to be clear on this. I love this game, but the dev doesn't, he has taken a very ludacris marketing strategy that has ruined the point of this game. The dev has decided to never market his hidden jewel MMO again, so now we're stuck with the 17 players that still remeber the name of this game, and I can tell you the exact situation of every home.

*9 players are struggling to survive, with under 500 dollars.
*2 players are in a mediocre situation.
*1 player is in a upper-middle class situation
and there are the 4 players that are litteral kings/queens with over 15k and combo-locks and movement puzzle galore.

Remember the days when we punished players for going after our wives?
Yeah, me neither.
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2 of 3 people (67%) found this review helpful
21.2 hrs on record
Posted: May 3
Castle Doctrine is a great game, but it has too low amount of players.
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3 of 5 people (60%) found this review helpful
0.6 hrs on record
Posted: June 2
Don't even think about it.
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4 of 7 people (57%) found this review helpful
485.7 hrs on record
Posted: June 21
Game is DEAD
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