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 (308 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
144 of 155 people (93%) found this review helpful
40.3 hrs on record
Posted: September 5, 2014
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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58 of 63 people (92%) found this review helpful
0.2 hrs on record
Posted: October 25, 2014
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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55 of 59 people (93%) found this review helpful
5.4 hrs on record
Posted: October 26, 2014
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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26 of 28 people (93%) 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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25 of 30 people (83%) found this review helpful
5.0 hrs on record
Posted: November 6, 2014
Used to be good but the game is dead. good luck finding new houses that are fun to rob... death is garentee nowadays
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20 of 24 people (83%) found this review helpful
0.7 hrs on record
Posted: November 12, 2014
Very good concept. Poor quality of the game. I personaly was taken by the opening inro and some videos I viewed. Playing it on the other hand sas severly dissapointed after a short while as you can't get very far with out falling prey to a house with a mechanic that traps you. I reget spending money on this and also take note there will not be any sale on this, part of this feels like a money grab with an underdeveloped game.
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16 of 19 people (84%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
11.1 hrs on record
Posted: November 23, 2014
This is HORRIBLE! There are only about 5 other people playing it right now... I am serious, it sucks that bad!
The idea was pretty cool, however in actuality noone plays it :(
DO NOT BUY!
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17 of 21 people (81%) found this review helpful
0.6 hrs on record
Posted: September 25, 2014
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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11 of 11 people (100%) 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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9 of 9 people (100%) 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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5 of 5 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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5 of 5 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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4 of 4 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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4 of 4 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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4 of 4 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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8 of 12 people (67%) found this review helpful
9.4 hrs on record
Posted: October 13, 2014
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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2 of 2 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
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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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
1.1 hrs on record
Posted: February 3
You start with $2000

A Gun is only $1200

Buy a Gun from the start, go out, blast other people's wifes and kids, then die, and do it all over again.

No skill, No way to stratigize about anything. You can actually go out and screw someoen else from the first second you load up the game. Die, restart, and do it all over again.

Terrible and very boring game mechanics. Absolutley NOT worth a single penny.
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8 of 14 people (57%) found this review helpful
84.5 hrs on record
Posted: October 14, 2014
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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