A Throwback to the Golden Age of Gaming
Creepy Castle is a retro style, adventure RPG developed by indie developers Dopterra. It takes inspiration from the likes of the GameBoy and other old school consoles regarding its aesthetics, music style and side scrolling game design and completely revamps them with new concepts. It’s a fun and charming blend of old and new ideas. You play as Moth, whose mission is to uncover the secrets and conspiracies that lie deep within a creepy castle named The City of Light.A straight forward story line: fight through a castle full on enemies, finding keys to open doors, getting completely lost, finding various items to help you explore deeper into the castle, and finally meeting the ultimate evil, final boss as the end. It sounds like a classic story from a Metroidvania inspired game. However, the story in Creepy Castle delves into a story line that makes the castle live up to its title. As you battle through the castle, a variety of notes have been scattered around depicting the history of the castle and how it began as a vision of harmony and peace. Some notes are the scribbled diary entries of an occupant of the castle describing their own personal history, and there are other notes that depict acts of mysterious “revolutionary” experiments. The story of Creepy Castle is preeeetty creepy and as you venture further into the castle, you get to find out all of its secrets and histories.
The unique battle system in Creepy Castle is, written in confidence, the main highlight of the game. Battling with an enemy is called dueling, where you face off one-on-one. There are many different dual types that require all sorts of keyboard skills, some examples are: ‘Quick Draw’ which involves hitting the ‘Z’ key faster than the enemy, ‘Pursuit’ which is a DDR type of arrow key mashing, and ‘Struggle’ where you mash the left and right arrow keys as fast as your finger will allow. Dueling with an enemy is based on a turn based battle style, so an enemy could use one or more in the same battle. It’s fast paced, and the variety of battle styles keeps things fresh and interesting. The only trouble occurs when you have to quickly use an item in battle; under the pressure of a timer, selecting a specific item is a hassle. The ability to organise the items in your bag would have been useful.
Just by looking at the start menu alone, straight away Creepy Castle totally exudes an old school, game boy feeling. The pixelated silhouette of a dark and ominous castle against a blood red sky with bats flying around it and the 8-bit music creeping in. Straight off the bat, it feels like you’re on the cusp of an adventure. You immediately get the feel of the game without even starting it. Even the name ‘Creepy Castle’ sounds like it should be faded away on a dusty old game cartridge.
The menu also has options to change the game to ‘accessibility mode’ that makes the battles that rely on reflexes less physically demanding. This is an admirable aspect that the devs have included to ensure player inclusivity, which is awesome. Creepy Castle also lets the player chose between a number of display options, such as the boarder designs and HP displays. There is also an option to change the palette of the game. You can choose for the color scheme to be bright and colorful, black and white or ‘GameBro’, which has the greeny-yellow colors of the GameBoy. The accessibility mode and interface changes are little perks that make Creepy Castle add that little bit of extra charm.
Creepy Castle came to life when its target goal got smashed on Kickstarter and from looking at the page, it was sure to succeed. Dopterra’s page had detailed information about the game, character descriptions, battle descriptions, art and music examples, achievable stretch goals and a fantastic video complete with great animation and music. As of this review, I have only played the first ‘scenario’ and am planning to play the second one, ‘Ghostly Mystery’, soon. But from the page, it sounds like Dopterra have many more scenarios to come that explore deeper parts of the story from different character perspectives.
From what I understand, it’s been a difficult journey for Dopterra, starting from their Kickstarter campaign, beginning in 2014 to being released on Halloween 2016, but you can see the love and passion the developers have put into Creepy Castle. It has a compelling story, charm and humor with a sinister undertone, throw back aesthetics, a memorable soundtrack (composed by Marius Schneider), and a fun and unique battle system.