Run. Jump. Slash. Die. Repeat. We’ve seen this sort of repetition done before but mostly done in titles of the past. Games like Mega Man, Castlevania and Ghost N Goblins are infamously known for their engaging combat, interesting level design and excruciating level of difficulty. But what was once the past has now been resurrected as current-gen nostalgia that pays homage to older classics by independent developer, Nicalis, in “Castle in the Darkness.”
Although the existence of 8-bit styled video games are nothing but common in this day and age, very few titles manage to successfully implement a nostalgic environment that also happen to provide an entertaining experience to the gamer. Let’s take a look and see how Castle in the Darkness, turned out.
Castle in the Darkness is very much trial and error. Like most titles developed by Nacalis, death comes swift and without notice. The hero in the video game is a tiny blue knight who originally starts his journey with a puny-sword. As time goes on and exploration becomes feasible, the hero is able to switch weapons and alter fighting tactics if that becomes necessary. Most enemies can be destroyed by sword however, others are extremely intimidating and may not want to be approached at close range; causing the use of a boom-a-rang, for instance, a more effective battle strategy than the use of a melee weapon.
Regardless of weapon selection and battle strategies, this video game possesses quite-a-few similarities when compared to its inspirations, both in level design as well as character design. In fact, these inspirations are blatantly obvious to spot-out during gameplay but never seem to disenchant the nostalgia in which they provide. For instance, most areas in the video game consist of potato-shaped monsters with fangs that can easily be mistaken for a Goomba, but the only difference is, these baddies seem to pack a more powerful punch than their Nintendo counter-parts. The inclusion of these particular characters is great and certainly caters to an older generation of gamers, which seems to be the targeted audience of this video game.
If you were to close your eyes for a brief moment and listen to Castle in the Darkness; you would think you’re hearing a video game made in the late 80’s or early 90’s. That’s how I felt after the first five seconds of gameplay; I had an immediate flash-back to the past.
The musical sound-track in this title sounds remarkably well considering the fact that the game is using an updated set of chip-tunes that provides a modern vibe to the audience, while keeping the aesthetic of an older generation. This reverberated sound greatly pleases the ear-drums and may cause the player to crank-up the volume to an irrational extent; regardless if it annoys others, only because it fills the gamer with blood-lust and conviction.
Overall, Castle in the Darkness is an enjoyable video game to play and happens to be a title full of nostalgic lore. Although the level of difficulty can be extreme at times, it was sort-of expected after considering difficult video games are Nicalis’ inevitable trademark. This is a title that sticks very closely to its gaming roots and it obviously shows during gameplay. If you’re an individual who missed the 8-bit generation of gaming, I recommend you play this title. Only because it’s the closest you’re going to get in terms of revisiting the past for what it truly was. Great!
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