Castle In The Darkness is a fun and challenging shout out to the early days of video games! It's an action exploration platformer with some RPG elements, much like games from the Castlevania or Metroid series. It's super fast-paced, challenging, and full of secrets!
User reviews:
Recent:
Very Positive (11 reviews) - 81% of the 11 user reviews in the last 30 days are positive.
Overall:
Very Positive (681 reviews) - 81% of the 681 user reviews for this game are positive.
Release Date: Feb 5, 2015

Sign in to add this item to your wishlist, follow it, or mark it as not interested

Buy Castle In The Darkness

SUMMER SALE! Offer ends July 4

-70%
$9.99
$2.99
 

About This Game

One dark and gloomy night, the kingdom of Alexandria is attacked by an evil sorcerer and his army of darkness! Despite their best efforts to protect their king and their princess, the royal guard falls, one-by-one, to the forces of evil. One knight, unconscious but still alive, awakens on the throne room floor to find that the princess is nowhere to be seen! What's more, the entire city had been overrun by monsters! With sword in hand, he embarks on a death-defying mission to find his princess and to restore peace to the kingdom!

  • A game by Matt Kap, the lead artist behind The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth
  • A large world heavily inspired by the golden era of video games
  • Level up your knight with wildly different abilities
  • An arsenal of over 100 weapons, armor, items and magic to collect and use!
  • Over 50 bosses to find and slay
  • More than 100 different enemies
  • Fast-paced chiptune soundtrack

Castle In The Darkness is a fun and challenging shout out to the early days of video games! It's an action exploration platformer with some RPG elements, much like games from the Castlevania or Metroid series. It's super fast-paced, challenging, and full of secrets!

System Requirements

    Minimum:
    • OS: Windows XP or later
    • Processor: Pentium 4 or higher
    • Memory: 1 GB RAM
    • Graphics: 256 MB or higher
    • DirectX: Version 9.0
    • Storage: 120 MB available space
    • Sound Card: Any
    Recommended:
    • OS: Windows 7 or 8
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: 1 GB
    • DirectX: Version 10
    • Storage: 120 MB available space
    • Sound Card: Any
Customer reviews
Customer Review system updated! Learn more
Recent:
Very Positive (11 reviews)
Overall:
Very Positive (681 reviews)
Recently Posted
Fnord
( 0.8 hrs on record )
Posted: June 28
This is a frustrating game. And I don't mean that as in "it's frustrating to play" (though it is), but it's frustrating because it gets so close to being something I would recommend, yet does some things so wrong that I just have to give it a negative review.

Graphics & sound
The game looks intentionally dated, with graphics that almost look like they could belong on an NES (but not quite). There's some good spritework here, with enemies & characters that look really nice. Bosses in particular can look really nice.
But there's some issues with the colour palette. Some enemies share colour with the background, making them needlessly hard to spot. Game designers, please don't use exactly the same colour for the ground & enemies.

The soundtrack is nice and upbeat. It sounds like something that could be from an NES game, and if it was, it would probably have been remembered fondly by a lot of people. Overall, the sound design works really well, despite some intentional limitations imposed on it.

Gameplay
Castle in the Darkness is a metroidvania-ish game, with a large maze-like world that you have to traverse, a bit like the first Metroid or Castlevania 2. Your character moves at a really high speed, and has a relatively long attack for being a "melee" focused game. Combat is fast and lethal, most enemies can't take a lot of hits, and neither can you.
When things work, when enemy placement is good, when bosses are well designed, it's really quite fun. You constantly need to be on your toes, as only a few hits will send you back to the last save point. Even early on the game is no cakewalk.

But then there are the times when the game does not work. I guess the game designers though it would be a fun joke to have a pipe with instant death spikes at the bottom, but having such things in your game just discourages exploration (and this is trying to be a metroidvania). Then there are issues with hitboxes. Usually games will err on the side of making the hitboxes too generous to the player, because if it's the other way around the game can easily just feel cheap. This game errs on the other side, making attacks that look like they would have hit miss. There's also issues with the size of hitboxes changing. Early on there's a boss who has a sword. It has a swing animation, the problem is that it's entirely possible to be hit by the sword attack at the start of the swing animation, when the boss raises the sword above its head, because you were standing a sword length from the boss. Had the attack hit you at the end of the swing animation, then things would have been as they should have been, but it seems like the swing animation makes the hitbox extend both up and forward through the entire animation, rather than having the hitbox be where the sword is during that particular part of the animation.

Enemy placement can also be unfair. If you need to jump down, and can't see where you're landing at the start of the jump, then there should not be an enemy that can hit you on the platform you're landing on. This just results in cheap, unavoidable hits.

Final thoughts
Castle in the Darkness is game that should have been good. All the ingredients are there for an enjoyable game, but due to issues with level design and hitboxes, it's not enjoyable. Also, the game loves references. They're just thrown in there, with little care for if they fit in or not. There's a Mario pipe, an enemy that looks like a colour swapped enemy from Ghosts 'n Goblins, a gate that just so happens to look like the one from the intro to the first Castlevania, a boss that looks like the plant from Little shop of horrors, and so on. The haphazardly thrown in references just makes the game lose any personality. It's not clever, they are just things from other things. References can be done well, but they are best used as Easter eggs, not as something that you constantly barrage the player with.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
eldee
( 0.9 hrs on record )
Posted: June 25
This game is essentially a love letter to the 8bit era. Tons of references and call-outs to oldschool games and even 80's pop culture if you have a keen eye (in the room where you find the ares gauntlet there's a giant painting of vigo the carpathian on the wall).

There's an area that's clearly inspired by the clocktower in Castlevania, and you fight a mini-boss that borders on infringement-territory with taito's bubble bobble.

All of this is to say that Castle in the Darkness clearly knows its audience and isn't afraid to play fan service. It has pretty solid platforming, lots of criss-crossing and back-tracking, RPG mechanics like inns and shops, and everything else you'd expect from a game that's trying to harness the power of the 80's.

So yes- thumbs up, buy this game and enjoy it if these are the types of things that you enjoy. However, there are some negative things to point out.

First, this game is pretty rough around the edges. Gamepad support is barely there, and menus are never fully navigable using only a gamepad (you always end up having to go back to the keyboard for something) which means you likely won't be enjoying this game from your couch in big picture mode.

Second, the resolution options for this game are abhorrent. It starts up in windowed mode- a TINY window, which almost makes sense given that it's a pixel-game. You are provided with a handful of scale-factors to choose from, which also makes sense given that you want to keep square pixels for an authentic experience. What does not make sense is the fact that everything is scaled bilinearly, which means everything gets blurry as ♥♥♥♥! Why didn't they provide an option for nearest neighbor scaling to keep the pixel art nice and sharp? The developers of this game need to go play Shovel Knight and see how a retro game can be developed for modern hardware and still keep its authenticity.

Aside from those two major issues, everything else I've encountered is fairly minor.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
youtube.com/chaver28
( 13.2 hrs on record )
Posted: June 25
This is one of the best platformers i have played steam :D

If You are unsure about buying the game then check out my videos on it and see how hype it actually is.
youtube.com/chaver28
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Spooky Electric
( 17.4 hrs on record )
Posted: June 25
If you like a twitchy platform dodge the spikes, very NES, castlevania-esque platformer, this game is for you!!
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Pixelfetish
( 0.7 hrs on record )
Posted: June 24
Well made and thought out 8Bit era retro gem.
It is the little things making this game really stand out.
Controls, graphics, level & enemy design are well done.
10/10
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Moogle Emperor
( 2.7 hrs on record )
Posted: June 3
Some games are retro in the best way, striving to be as good in reality as the games of past eras appear through rose tinted glasses. Some are labeled retro simply because they're 2D, even though their design and even visuals have nothing to do with older titles and probably wouldn't have been possible on the machines of the past.

Some ape the forms and functions of older games in total. Castle in the Darkness is one of those, and the problem with it is that most of those games were, in fact, kinda ♥♥♥♥.

Enemies with unclear hit boxes, bland color palette, small and undetailed sprites, deaths that can only be avoided by memorizing the locations of traps, bosses you can cheese by finding spots in their arenas they can't touch (but which are otherwise exercises in tedium, with tiny hitboxes you always have to jump to strike), no map and no sense of forward momentum. If you're devoted to the actuality of middling NES titles as well as the memory of them, you may find all of this charming. I found it, like the games it was attempting to evoke, a reminder of why we've left all this stuff behind, and why the very best titles like Mario and Mega Man generally didn’t have it to begin with.

Castle in the Darkness would have been an okay game in the 80s, but we’re decades away from that being good enough for a commercial release.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
BoJack
( 29.2 hrs on record )
Posted: June 2
The game is a well-made classic Metroidvania game. It definitely gives that old feeling back without trying way too hard. Overall it's a great game
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Zeldaniac
( 6.6 hrs on record )
Posted: June 1
One of the best throwbacks to so many NES classics I\'ve ever played. Very enjoyable for any big retro gamer
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Pendulous
( 0.3 hrs on record )
Posted: May 28
Spikes are instant death. Jumps are nearly frame-perfect. First "boss" requires you to be close enough to hit him that he also does damage to you. movement does not flow well enough to make up for these perfect-requiring jumps. Attacking requires you to stop. I don't feel like thsi game could be considered a "metroidvania" game until it's more forgiving.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Exmix
( 5.6 hrs on record )
Posted: May 27
♥♥♥♥. THIS. GAME!!
^^ Saying that out of Rage
Honestly this game is what I expect it to be. It;s hard, it's fun and I find myself continuing to go back for more. No matter how many times I die. I do recommend it if you're into the 2D old school NES/SNES/Genesis/etc. style games. Just the basic jumping, and attacking directly ahead of you, dodging traps, enemies, projectiles, you name it, it's in here.
Do recommend this.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Most Helpful Reviews  In the past 30 days
5 of 6 people (83%) found this review helpful
Not Recommended
0.8 hrs on record
Posted: June 28
This is a frustrating game. And I don't mean that as in "it's frustrating to play" (though it is), but it's frustrating because it gets so close to being something I would recommend, yet does some things so wrong that I just have to give it a negative review.

Graphics & sound
The game looks intentionally dated, with graphics that almost look like they could belong on an NES (but not quite). There's some good spritework here, with enemies & characters that look really nice. Bosses in particular can look really nice.
But there's some issues with the colour palette. Some enemies share colour with the background, making them needlessly hard to spot. Game designers, please don't use exactly the same colour for the ground & enemies.

The soundtrack is nice and upbeat. It sounds like something that could be from an NES game, and if it was, it would probably have been remembered fondly by a lot of people. Overall, the sound design works really well, despite some intentional limitations imposed on it.

Gameplay
Castle in the Darkness is a metroidvania-ish game, with a large maze-like world that you have to traverse, a bit like the first Metroid or Castlevania 2. Your character moves at a really high speed, and has a relatively long attack for being a "melee" focused game. Combat is fast and lethal, most enemies can't take a lot of hits, and neither can you.
When things work, when enemy placement is good, when bosses are well designed, it's really quite fun. You constantly need to be on your toes, as only a few hits will send you back to the last save point. Even early on the game is no cakewalk.

But then there are the times when the game does not work. I guess the game designers though it would be a fun joke to have a pipe with instant death spikes at the bottom, but having such things in your game just discourages exploration (and this is trying to be a metroidvania). Then there are issues with hitboxes. Usually games will err on the side of making the hitboxes too generous to the player, because if it's the other way around the game can easily just feel cheap. This game errs on the other side, making attacks that look like they would have hit miss. There's also issues with the size of hitboxes changing. Early on there's a boss who has a sword. It has a swing animation, the problem is that it's entirely possible to be hit by the sword attack at the start of the swing animation, when the boss raises the sword above its head, because you were standing a sword length from the boss. Had the attack hit you at the end of the swing animation, then things would have been as they should have been, but it seems like the swing animation makes the hitbox extend both up and forward through the entire animation, rather than having the hitbox be where the sword is during that particular part of the animation.

Enemy placement can also be unfair. If you need to jump down, and can't see where you're landing at the start of the jump, then there should not be an enemy that can hit you on the platform you're landing on. This just results in cheap, unavoidable hits.

Final thoughts
Castle in the Darkness is game that should have been good. All the ingredients are there for an enjoyable game, but due to issues with level design and hitboxes, it's not enjoyable. Also, the game loves references. They're just thrown in there, with little care for if they fit in or not. There's a Mario pipe, an enemy that looks like a colour swapped enemy from Ghosts 'n Goblins, a gate that just so happens to look like the one from the intro to the first Castlevania, a boss that looks like the plant from Little shop of horrors, and so on. The haphazardly thrown in references just makes the game lose any personality. It's not clever, they are just things from other things. References can be done well, but they are best used as Easter eggs, not as something that you constantly barrage the player with.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
Most Helpful Reviews  Overall
139 of 154 people (90%) found this review helpful
10 people found this review funny
Recommended
27.9 hrs on record
Posted: February 7, 2015
- OLD THOUGHTS - UPDATED THOUGHTS BELOW -
THOUGHTS: 02.07.2015

I haven't finished the game yet, but at almost 8 hours in, I feel I've played enough to share my thoughts. I'll update this if/when I finish the game to update/finalize my thoughts. Here's what I feel right now.

This game is fantastic. It really captures NES-style fun, platforming and frustration.

- PROS -
- Great art direction; I really like the look of the backgrounds and characters.
- Great understanding of contrasting colors. Oftentimes a cool color will be in the background and a warm in the foreground (or vice versa ). Really makes the game pop (so many games get this wrong. It's great to see it done well here).
- Gameplay is fun and varied. The jump feels great too (not *fantastic*, but very good).
- Wide variety of weapons and items to keep gameplay from becoming bland.
- Really good music. When I entered a certain area - I had to pause for a second and just listen to it. It sounded *very* familiar (I'll leave it at that). Once I got the reference, it made me grin from ear to ear.
- Lots of cute, interesting nods to other games (Mega Man, Castlevania, etc.).
- Interesting, challenging boss battles. I hate boss battles that are *just* long. Here they're challenging and varied - but not too long once you get the pattern down. That's cool.

- CONS -
- It took me a while to get used to the screen transition. In Super Metroid, The Binding of Issac (or a host of other games - Shovel Knight, even) when you enter a new screen, the character pauses and slides across the screen as the new area is introduced. It helps to keep everything clear: here is the character; here is a new area. In 'Castle in the Darkness' the new screen just kinda pops into existence. Then it takes me a half-second to find where the character is. I have to admit that I found it rather jarring for the first few screens. I got used to it...and this may not affect everyone - but just thought I'd mention it here.
- No map system - and the game is HUGE. I may have to break out some graph paper and draw my own...
- (As far as I know) No 'current objective' slide to look at. So, if you put this game down for a week and come back you would be COMPLETELY lost.
- 'One-hit kill' spikes abound.

-NOTES-
It has to be mentioned (as I'm sure you've read in other reviews) - this game is *hard*. I think I have over 300 deaths already. It's cool, though - having a blast doing it. What's important to note is that this game uses a design philosophy that some players may not like - what I call "playing from save point to save point". It reminded me of a saying I hadn't thought of in years - "It's not real until you save." Beat a boss? Go back and save. Got a new item? Go back and save. Unlocked a secret room that's really cool and you want to explore it? For the love of all that is good GO BACK AND SAVE YOUR GAME. This is not a game where you run carelessly past save points as you vanquish foes with ease. This is a game where you jump for joy at save points, thank them for existing, give them a huge hug and kiss and then step cautiously into the next room. I grew up on games like this, so I understand this design philosophy - but I can see how others could see this as annoying or grindy.

Also, as I get further into the game, the amount of 'one-hit kills' (i.e. spikes) seems to be increasing exponentially. I hope the endgame is not just jumping through like thirty rooms filled with spikes - and if you slip up and touch ONE of them - you gotta go all the way back to the beginning. I mean, Super Meat Boy has one-hit kills as well - but that game has a super-fast reload time and no level is more than one screen long. That level of difficulty in this metroidvania structure would NOT work well. I hope that doesn't happen. >_<

- OVERALL -
So far, I'm really enjoying the game. Great NES-style action and great music. If you love platformers and you're ready for a challenge, I say pick it up (it's less than $5!). If you want something light to beat in a weekend, though...this may not be for you. I, however, am thoroughly enjoying it and look forward to seeing what other craziness the game has to offer (and I've seen some crazy rooms in it already). I hope I'm able to finish it. *fingers crossed*

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

- UPDATE -
THOUGHTS: 02.08.2015

I just beat the game with 90% completion (this took a little over 18 hours) and wanted to share my final thoughts.

'Castle in the Darkness' is wonderful. It truly is an engaging, challenging gem of a game. It surprised me how new enemies kept showing up right up until the end of the game. I was like, "This game is STILL introducing new enemies?!" Love it.

All of my thoughts above still apply and I was impressed that right through to the end, it's was an incredible experience. Also, Matt Kap (the developer) is still fixing things and making the game the best that it can be. Much respect for that!

So, in the end, 'Castle in the Darkness' is VERY much recommended.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to explore a bit more and see if I can get 100% completion. Cheers! :)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

- UPDATE -
THOUGHTS: 02.17.2015

Now I've beaten the game at 100% completion! Hurray! *does a little happy dance*

http://steamcommunity.com/profiles/76561197994686280/screenshots/?appid=262960
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
51 of 52 people (98%) found this review helpful
Recommended
17.4 hrs on record
Posted: May 26
'They were all defeated by the monsters. All… but one!'
Intro of Castle in the Darkness
__________________________________________

Introduction

'Castle in the Darkness' is a revival of oldschool action-adventure platformers full of tough bosses and hellish platformer sequences. It takes many ideas from the classics of the different genres (e.g. from the Metroid Games, Castlevania III, Ghosts 'n Goblins, Mega Man…) mixes in some interesting new elements and spices the whole dish up with some RPG elements, tons of secrets and a lot of Easter Eggs. The result is a quite tough cookie of a retro-metroidvania that is probably not the healthiest choice - neither for your controller/keyboard nor for your nerves (sometimes it will make you swear so much that even a pub full of sailors would be impressed).
__________________________________________

Gameplay

As the only survivor of the Royal Guard it is your duty to save the Kingdom of Alexandria from attacking monsters (and of course you need to save the princess as well). So you start running and jumping through the levels, armed with a sword, an armor and some magic while looking for treasures and secrets to make your journey easier. Which is quite necessary as the game’s difficulty curve jumps up quite fast and soon you have to face scary platforming sequences and unfriendly creatures. However as spikes kill you instantly (and the architect of the kingdom decided to put them nearly EVERYWHERE) they will probably be your toughest enemies and the stuff your nightmares are made of.

Often it‘s a wise decision to backtrack and look for different ways and areas aside from the main path that you may have missed before. (Luckily there are some Warp points which allow teleportation between several major stages.)
The amount of secrets and optional stuff is huge and if you look closely you can find lots of breakable walls, hidden entrances, fake spikes, optional areas and bosses and items to e.g. increase your health. Many of them are quite well hidden but aside from (more or less obvious) breakable blocks there are several hints to less obvious areas, secrets and abilities – keeping your eyes out in the levels is definitly recommended.

Befitting the oldschool-charm of 'Castle in the Darkness‘ the game comes with good oldschool 8-bit graphics and an (amazing!) 8-bit soundtrack that may bring out some nostalgic feels (- well, at least if you are not mad at some particular spikes and areas in the game).
__________________________________________

Contra...?

If you plan on finding all the secrets and getting all hidden items and stuff you will need some extra hours after finishing the game and it will bring you straight to some nightmaris jumping sections and plattforming areas where you have to start over and over and over and over… again. (At least it rewards you with a secret ending and a NG+ with additional stuff for completing the game 100%).

Always keep in mind: After dying a lot of times the amount of happiness when you finally suceed is way much sweeter:
'Great I finally got the last page from the Book of the Dead so now I can go back to the safe poin-…

"Here lies…
Died 0000560 times.“

(…oh crap, I forgot about ceiling falling spikes.)
You and this little counter on the death screen will become pretty good friends because you will meet each other very often.
There’s an achievement for dying 500 times. If you want to finish the game at 100% you probably won’t even need suiciding to accumulate this amount of deaths. In the end it said I died 560 times – mostly to spikes I guess.

Yes it can be very frustrating and even if you're used to challenging titles and tough sequences, you will probably end in hating the game or at least some areas as much as you like other parts. Ragequitting the game after dying for the 18th time on an area, isn't that uncommon. One or two additional save points in tough sections would really have been a blessing and could have ended in letting more of my nerves survive the journey.
__________________________________________

Conclusion

If you expect a difficult little retro-platforming action-adventure with some RPG elements 'Castle in the Darkness‘ will entertain you a lot, providing enough content for at least ~6 hours (for the 'regular bad‘ ending) while balancing between motivation and frustration. I rate it 8 out of 10 points and can say that it’s a great little game for the common ~5 bucks in a sale. However, if you're used to difficult games and you have no problems repeating same areas a lot, the game will be funnier for you compared with those who normally tend to choose 'Easy Mode'

This endorsement approved by The Reviewers' Union, providing better standards for reviews and reviewers.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
81 of 118 people (69%) found this review helpful
14 people found this review funny
Recommended
7.6 hrs on record
Posted: February 5, 2015
I was born in 1985 and, because of that, I had the chance to play most of the great games that came out during the "Golden Age". Castle in the Darkess just gives me that well-known feel we old farts love so much — I would totally see myself playing this game for hours back in 1991 on my SEGA Master System II. Savegames didn't even exist back then. Good thing this game has them, because you're going to die quite a lot.

Art style is gorgeous (no ♥♥♥♥, Matt Kap = Isaac Rebirth visuals); the music is on-point (gotta love dem chiptunes mang), and the game offers good mechanics even by just making use of two buttons. The old times are back!

Oh, it's also discounted by 17% 'til February 12th. That's less than 5€. Go buy it.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
79 of 115 people (69%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Recommended
1.3 hrs on record
Posted: February 5, 2015
I think Castle in the Darkness (herein referred to as just "Castle") is proof of a few things:

-You shouldn't judge a book by its cover (or a game by its trailer in this case)
-There are certain gaming staples that needed to die long ago
-You get what you pay for
-A "Neutral" option for reviews would be really nice

I'll get this one out of the way first. Yes, Castle IS fun. But it's the kind of fun that needs to come with a few asterisks (more on that later). The game has a very simple charm to it that transcends words. Movement and attacking are quick and fluid. Enemies are nicely varied, if a little arbitrary at times, and fighting them is engaging enough. Bosses are equally varied (and there's quite a few of them!), virtually no boss (from what I've played so far) is remotely like any other, and it's fun trying to figure out their patterns and how to take them down, though I would argue that perhaps they aren't spaced out very well. Sometimes it seems like you're fighting a boss every 5 rooms, other times you're wondering if the area has a boss at all.

You start with basic equipment (short sword, basic armor) and gain more as you explore the world. These include various weaponry (of course), better armor, various magic (used by holding Attack to charge), relics which offer passive benefits (break certain blocks, keep traction on ice, etc), and Life increases (dropped by bosses). Some equipment you must buy from various NPC's, requiring you to keep on top of collecting all the coins that enemies drop.

It is cool to explore the world and gain an arsenal of equipment, but I can't help but feel that it's also a bit superfluous at the same time. The game seems to be designed so that enemies' strength is pretty much always on par with your own, so why even put in all the stat and weapon upgrades if they never add to your power relative to the enemies'? There are a few exceptions; entering Ruth's Hall at the first possible moment is essentially suicide, but then, why even bother letting me enter at all until I'm further along in the game?

The story is relatively vague, or perhaps a better word would be loose. What's there isn't bad. But at the same time, it's not really what you're there for. Playing Castle for the story is somewhat akin to playing Mario Bros. or Dota 2 for the story.

Now for what I didn't like. While the action is fun, the platforming is not. It's flat out frustrating. Well, the platforming itself isn't strictly bad, it's platforming around all the stuff that instantly kills you that's maddening. There's something about the way the Protagonist jumps that just feels off. It's so close to perfect that it's maddening, but it's not quite there. As I hinted above, the developer seems to have an insatiable crush on spikes that instantly kill you, and traps that instantly kill you. I'm going to reckon the vast majority of any players deaths will be to some form of instant-kill environmental hazard. Actually, there were times I forgot I had a life meter at all. In one room, there's a rugged series of steps with a single spike on one of them, and the spike blends into the background really well. In fact, the first time I passed through that room, being somewhat focused on the enemies, I missed it by chance, and had no idea it was even there. The second time through that room, it killed me (I hadn't even seen it until it did so), and I seriously considered uninstalling the game and never playing it again.

But the absolute worst thing about this game are the blocks that break when you step on them. You can (and in most cases MUST) hold Jump to gain extra height as you jump on these blocks to reach whatever destination you're striving for, generally this is "ground that doesn't have instant-kill spikes coming out of it". Which is fine and all. Except for one tiny detail: these blocks look the exact same as every other block. If a block serves a different function from a standard block, it should look different. I'm no game designer, but that seems like a basic. What we have here results in a very I Wanna Be The Guy-esque trial-and-error experience. And it's not like IWBTG, where it's so absurd it's actually funny, it's straight-up frustrating, unfair, and terribly designed. The game is withholding information from you.

The final thing about Castle that bugs the hell out of me is its sense of humor. Before I go any further on that, I have to kinda explain what I mean. See, there's a difference between making a subtle, clever nod or shout-out to something, and just pointing at something, saying it exists, and that by merely confirming its existence branding yourself as a comedic genius. And what Castle seems to love to point at is none other than Zelda 2 (and to a lesser extent Zelda in general, and a few other games), but it's not pointing at it, it's just quoting it verbatim, and at the same time portraying Link as (just to avoid having to ask everyone to pardon my French) a sadistic jerk, and even then it was a one-time joke that added nothing to the game. There comes a point where I'd rather a developer just not make any nods to other video games at all, and Castle has crossed that point and then some.

At the end of the day, yes, Castle is fun, but this is coming from someone who had the patience to finish Demon's Souls. My recommendation must come with the caveat that if you're not okay with dying a ton, or just dying unfairly in general, then you probably won't like this game. My recommendation must also come with the caveat that I have not beaten it yet. Perhaps I'll have a more definite stance on the game once I do, but even though there's a simple charm in Castle that keeps pulling me in, there's also the game's unrefined platforming pushing me away.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
148 of 237 people (62%) found this review helpful
14 people found this review funny
Not Recommended
14.1 hrs on record
Posted: March 13, 2015
I wonder how long it will be when we will be able to have another pixel-perfect, tough-as-nails platformer that isn't just a homage-fest. This game isn't it. I want to let it be known that before I wrote this review, I did in fact 100% everything in the game as far as percentage and achievements go. So this isn't a case of a salty review. I wish to inform people what this game IS and what this game ISN'T:

What this game IS:

-More of the same. It has more in similarity with I wanna be the Guy then a game like Meat Boy for example. Right down to all the other video game references and ideas it shamelessly borrows from. Even down to the trial and error methods of tackling levels.


What this game ISN'T:

-It is NOT a metroid vania. Not even loosely. Just because a game has powerups and backtracking does not make it a metroid-vania. It doesn't even have a MAP.

Most of the game, and I do mean the vast majority is backtracking. If you take nothing else from this review, understand my hatred of backtracking is absolutely immense. To add insult to injury, in a game where maneuvarability is paramount, your double jump ability is kept from you until around the first third of the game has passed. You will encounter a ton of areas that will require that double jump to uncover the secrets. That is probably the most laziest way to hinder progression. It shows not a lot of thought or care was put into actually creating a world worth exploring but instead wanted to pad the game as much as possible with backtracking. To make matters worse, the warp zones are put in the absolute worst positions, you will become lost for a good majority of the game, and al lthis does is add time to the clock but nothing is getting done. That is inexcusable for a game that came out in 2015.


and I know what you are going to say, "but Starman! Super Metroid is one of the best games ever with a similar grab the powerups to open new areas game, it had a lot of backtracking too!" Ok first off, Super Metroid was THE game that "metroid-vania" was based off and for good reason. You wanna know why it holds up to this day? It created interesting powerups. It created interesting beam combinations. It created an environment you wanted to explore. It had so many powerups and collectibles for it's time that it offered a much more fulfilling sense of accomplishment. It also didn't rely on cheap trial and error segments to pad the game for length.

"But, But castlevania! Symphony of the night! It was the -vania part of metroid! it did similar things!" Not even comparable. Castlevania: SOTN was more like Metroid, but built upon the idea with a huge array of secrets, weapons, spells, and other things. Also, NG+ allowed you to play as other characters and the like.


To even COMPARE this game to a metroid-vania is an absolute lie. Don't even. First third of game is playing crippled, the last 2/3's is backtracking and getting lost, and dying at segments where there are 4-5 screens before your next save point.

So, why did I play this game to completion? I clearly HATED the game right? No. I didn't hate the game. The fact is, the game's core gameplay has proven itself to be rewarding, as most of these platformers tend to do. My issue is that the game took the lazy, cheap way out of dealing with things. It has no identity for itself. It's just some frankenstein monster of other game's great ideas hindered by lazy development and shoddy "HAY GAIZ, REMEMBER THIS FROM [this game]?"

I want new, unique titles. You can have your trial and error pixel perfect jumps. But stop trying to be every other game.

and if you really want to create a metroid-vania, CREATE, a genuine metroid-vania experience. Not this.


Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
47 of 67 people (70%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Recommended
17.8 hrs on record
Posted: August 25, 2015
Developer: Matt Kapp
Publisher: Nicalis
Release Date: 5 February, 2015


Let me start of by saying that Matt Kapp, the Lead Artist behind The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth developed this beauty and Nicalis, Cave Story+, published it. A match made in heaven.

Boy this game got me hooked. So hooked that I like to call it Castle In Le Dankness. Don’t judge me. Anyway the game’s as advertized:
It’s super fast-paced, challenging, and full of secrets!
And that’s true folks. There’s just so much to explore and to find.
Tons of references are just waiting for you behind fake spikes, walls and breakable walls of course. A huge bonus if you’ve played like Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Metroid or Castlevania since this game really has a ton of references for those games.
Also I do recommend to check out the options menu before you’re starting to die … I mean play this game for hours.

That being said let’s get into it!

Story
One dark and gloomy night, the kingdom of Alexandria is attacked by an evil sorcerer and his army of darkness! Despite their best efforts to protect the king and their princess, the royal guard falls one-by-one, to the forces of evil. One knight, unconscious but still alive, awakens on the throne room floor to find that the princess is nowhere to be seen! What're more, the entire city has been overrun by monsters! With sword in hand, he embarks on a death-defying mission to find his princess and restore peace to the kingdom!
https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=484015863
Now that’s the story. One thing to note is that you’re not your everyday hero. You’re not the chosen one nor the Warrior of Light fighting the Darkness.
You’re just a mere Knight doing your duty: Rescuing your Princess.

Gameplay
Welcome back to the, how I like to call it, golden age of gaming. This game is heavily inspired by games like Castlevania and you’ll notice that in the way the game works. But not only Castlevania pretty much of every game it has references off.
One thing I have to tell you right now is: You will die. Not just once. Not twice. Be prepared to die a lot. I’ve finished the game with 305 Deaths. Is that a bad thing? Not it isn’t. To be quite honest with you I had a blast dying countless of times mainly because of my own stupidity. Well I say my own stupidity but that’s not quite true. The thing is the game has so many ways to make you visit the Game Over Screen numerous times. Be it a switch that activates some spikes beneath you, which will instantly kill you by the way or this weird and accurate jump you’ve to do just to get some stuff. Some levels have ice on the ground so you’ll slide slowly but surely into your death and others have strong winds which will send you straight to your Death.
Not to mention some enemies have specific weakpoints and attacking those is the only way to actually hurt and defeat them.
The game does feature upgrades in form of Weapons such as different Swords, Boomerangs or an Axe. Also different types of Armors which will help you on your quest to rescue your Princess.
Not to mention magic. You can either throw a Hadouken err I mean a Fireball or summon the winds to slash your enemies into pieces.
Also there’s another reference including a simple sword and a nature armor. Just to give a small hint.
https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=484949936
If you’re fighting a Boss then timing is your best friend as well as choosing the right weapon and magic.

Another thing to point out is that the game’s all about platforming. Precise jumping and timing will be required to get through the game.
Secrets. Did I tell you that there are literally dozens of it in the game?

Visual
Fine and beautiful Pixel Art. I already pointed out to actually check out the options menu before you’re playing for one simple reason: Scanlines. In my opinion adding Scanlines to the game makes look just so much better but then again it could just be me.
The difference level just look awesome. The whole game just has a gorgeous Art Style.
https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=485556842
Audio
Here comes the real beauty. There’s an optional Area called Sunken Temple and this is the OST:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eu3q98JzuYo
I found myself running through the entire Area three times after I cleared it just because of this track.
The gorgeous art style and the beautifully crafted Sound for each Area just fit.
Take Torture Chamber for example. Once you reach it you’ll truly understand what I mean.
There are more of course but I don’t want to spoil you all the fun.
Might just be me but if the OST would be available to buy it’d be an Insta Buy for me.

What else is there to say?
Castle In Le Dankness The Darkness is a game filled with Nostalgia.
I tried to not go into that but I can’t help it. It’s not only because of all those References but just the overall game. The look, feel, gameplay … Just everything reminds you of the Golden Age of gaming. Be it the enemies, the Bosses or just some items. Nearly everything reminds you of games like Castlevania or The Legend of Zelda and many more. I can’t go and list all of the games since it’s just way too much.
Dying was fun. I grinned so often when I found myself dying because I missed a jump or activated a trap to kill myself … numerous times.
I seriously had a blast dying and I couldn’t stop playing it.
I actually go as far as to say that Castle In The Darkness is the Shovel Knight of 2k15.
We need more games like this and I truly hope we will see some more in the future.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
40 of 58 people (69%) found this review helpful
3 people found this review funny
Recommended
15.9 hrs on record
Posted: February 13, 2015
(Don't make this positive review fool you that theres nothing wrong with the game)

Castle in the darkness is a really good platformer that you can sink your teeth into.
it is inspired by the good old school platformers we played as kids and enjoyed, and this game brings them all to life with references and easter eggs.

I can say without any doubt there isn't one thing wrong with the music and the enemy/character design and backgrounds and everything but there are some things that just turns this game OFF completely for some players will get to it in a bit just stay with me here.

The Controls do not feel clunky or anything, Movement, Jump, And attack button thats basically it
Know that if you are using a controller like I do, You will need to use the keyboard to pause the game or close it.

The music in the game are just some old school awesomeness, The story is lovely and the gameplay is great, A lot of secrets that would take you time to get 100% of them, (And as far as i know good and bad endings)

Great Boss battles, Each having its own weakness and unique fighting style.

All seems well right ? Well thats a no no because unlike old platformers this is not a platform metroidvania game, Its more like a Trial-And-Error.

You will die A LOT, the death counter is set for even 7 digits that's never a good thing, You will get frustrated by all the spikes that will kill you and even more angry at the trolling spikes on the roof that will fall on you once you get right under them, you'd think you can see and dodge that but sometimes they dont even show because the roof is too far to show in the screen and you simply die while trying to figure out where to jump to next.

I am sure a lot will vote this review down after reading this but I will never hide anything in a game and show the positive stuff so here goes.
There are some flaws in the level design, In some places its literally impossible to go back through a place, There are other ways around if you want to go back to a warp point but still seeing that gives me an uncomfortable feeling that they didn't do it right, And not only that .. In most places while going back the focus on where enemies are and spikes makes it harder so you can expect to die a lot more when going back than you do going forward.

This is why i called this game Trial-And-Error, You will keep dying from spikes and platforms that shatters when you stand on them, And places that you will just have to die at least 5 times to know what you are doing wrong.

If you are thinking you would get some challenge from monsters or bosses I can tell you now if you are a "Hardcore" gamer you will get disappointed because.
- Enemies look tough at first but after getting a certain sword you can pretty much kill them without sweating.
- Boss battles are fun they are but I don't know if its me always finding their weakness by equipping the right skill by luck or just them not being that hard, Hardest boss killed me about 3 times before figuring out what I was doing wrong or figuring out how to kill it.

So yeah your main enemy are those spikes ... Spikes SPIKES SPIKES everywhere enjoy dying a lot.

So gonna get to the pros and cons to get to my point.

PROS :
1 - Old school magic revived in a beautiful game, Music and sounds its all bringing memories.
2 - A lot of time to spend to grind for all the hidden items and what not.
3 - A lot of secrets to find and secret levels you'd need to play.
4 - Very reasonable price for this great game ( and a lot more pros )

CONS :
1 - At the first 3 days of launch it advertised Full Controller Support and I can assure you thats fake because you cant close the game or even pause it using a controller ( at least they edited it back to partial controller support ), Still not a reason Not to buy this game.
2 - A Few flaws in level design that might throw the game for some as you probably saw in some negative reviews, Yes the game is ridiculously hard at some points, you will die and die and die.
3 - The game has "fullscreen" but it doesnt cover my entire screen, In my 15.6 inch laptop with 1366x768 resolution, The game is 960 x 640 Although it doesn't even show in the screenshots I uploaded but its the truth, And the rest of the screen is just annoying black boarders, And the 1-2-3 windowed scaling's at number 3 the game goes out of my screen boarders ( Cant see hp and money .. etc )
4 - a few bugs here and there and this is what i found so far.
A - When the screen transition happens going from a screen to a screen sometimes it feels glitchy.
B - When dying or opening menu ( You can only open menu at save points ) it freezes for a few seconds and considering you will die a lot in the game thats bad, BUT the freezing is soo short but thought I should bring it up.
C - Most of the time when I kill monsters the gold they drop gets inside a rock and gets stuck there, Although I have an item that gives me the ability to act like a magnet to it, Still they get stuck and most of the time I cant pick them up.
D - When killing a boss and taking the Heart ( the victory music starts and character jumps ) SOME times after it ends the character will either do an extra jump or will walk a few steps to the direction I'm facing, Nothing wrong with it right ? wrong .. some bosses have spikes on the floor and after killing a Certain Crab boss I automatically walked left and fell to spikes and had to do the fight all over again.
E - After killing a boss if you touch it while its dying you will get damaged, And it killed me once and had to do the fight again, This might not be a bug might be how they wanted it for you to stay away after killing it so just be careful here :).

F - Theres also some serious FPS drop issue at the Final boss Spoiler > the real final boss battle for the 100% ending it stayed around 36-38 the entire battle was all in slow motion, in both my pc and laptop ( and my pc is pretty tough )
and also some usual fps drops every now and then.


So after putting all the good and bad you are free to think of this review as you will.
You are free to think of me as a (whiny little brat) Like some said that I complain a lot
or to think that I just think its reasonable to have stuff like that fixed
but to me ? I will still play this game because its good

So I recommend this game to anyone who likes old school retro Platformers.
But with a BIG warning, Know this game is really hard and most places its right down frustrating and Considered a
Trial-And-Error So keep that in mind when you make this purchase.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
28 of 39 people (72%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Recommended
4.4 hrs on record
Posted: February 5, 2015
Non-linear map designs, fun boss battles and rewarding game play. Heavily influenced by classic games such as the first few Castlevania games and Zelda 2. Lots of secrets to unlock and lots of paths to take. You can unlock new weapons and armour as you progress to increase your attack power and make less health taken when you are hit and like Zelda when you defeat a boss you will recieve a max HP increase.

Be warned : This game has a high difficulty and requires a large patience.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
15 of 16 people (94%) found this review helpful
Recommended
18.5 hrs on record
Posted: November 12, 2015
Games like this do not come around too often. If you enjoy NES classics such as Castlevania and Mega Man then this title is just what you want. The controls are extremely tight and responsive, graphics do a great job of bringing that classic NES feel, music is equally amazing in regard to that kind of nostalgia I am talking about, and the game progression is just so well designed. Some of the boss battles in this game got me really smiling... Sometimes it almost feels like an endurance test. The only modern game that gives me that same feeling would be Dark Souls I think (but in no way is this anything like DS). The platforming skills required in this game are also pretty high... Spikes everywhere....

The one negative comment I would make is that there is too much back tracking. Some sort of quick travel (at least to the warp hub) would have been greatly appreciated. A Metroid or Castlevania style map would have been nice too!

Beat this game at 78 percent and plan on getting 100% soon. Nicalis has become one of my favorite publishers and I cannot wait to see what else they bring to the light.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny