Darkestville Castle – Review
Follow Genre: 2-D Point and Click Adventure
Developer: Epic LLama
Publisher: Buka Entertainment
Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, iPhone, iPad, Mac, Android
Tested on: PS4

Darkestville Castle – Review

Site Score
3.5
Good: Great artwork and soundtrack
Bad: The dialogue is excessively satirical
User Score
1.3
(4 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 1.3/10 (4 votes cast)

Darkestville Castle is a 2D point-and-click adventure, developed by Epic LLama and published by Buka Entertainment/ Buka Entertainment Enterprises. While Buka is a large publisher, tied to big names such as the Darksiders series and Formula 1 games, Epic LLama is a very small company, with only two games tied to their name. Despite this, Darkestville Castle has gained them a lot of support and advertising from their publisher and it’s easy to see why. This is a game that could well appeal to many gamers, with some nice visuals, current humor and a near-perfect soundtrack. Though few games are without fault, some may find this a challenge to play, and not because of difficulty…

Story

The player starts off being told the tale of Darkestville, where a mysterious comet crashed bearing an infant child. This child is Cid, who turns out to be an evil demon and an incessant prankster to the people of Darkestville. And, of course, Cid is you, the player. Waking up, the player then ponders the “Heinous” acts that they, the scion of evil, will enact upon the town. Mutant chickens, minor explosions, feeding laxatives to pigeons, the possibilities are endless. But before that, you must leave your castle as your nemesis has trapped you… by holding the door shut.

This is the introduction to Darkestville Castle, which is sound in principle, if not as original as many reviews have made it out to be. A prime example of playing an eccentric and evil character, and with many similarities in the humor, would be the Overlord series. With weird and wacky characters all the way through, it certainly presents an interesting tale at times, however, these characters can also be one of the many things that hold this game back. From start to finish, nearly every cliche and trope that can be included is included, and sometimes with unnecessary force. While some of these moments can be funny, they invariably get drowned out. A prime example is a politically correct werewolf, whose dialogue was an endless tirade of how you have triggered them with your assumptions. It was fairly funny… until it was apparent that the five minutes of voice-over was all in this manner. And this is how EVERY character feels. Bogged down with endless dialogue.

Then there is Cid himself. The arrogant protagonist, the scion of evil, the lord of pranksters and ruler of Darkestville. As he reminds you every few sentences. This all could be very funny and appealing to a large number of gamers’ humor, but the comparison that kept coming to mind from 4-chan and Reddit forums… was Edge-Lord. Like a D&D player at your table doing the misunderstood and underappreciated Tiefling Hexblade warlock, who has to make sure you know about it at every turn. There may be some bitterness and bias in this review, but the resemblance is nevertheless striking.

Graphics

The graphics of Darkestville Castle, while basic, are an appealing aspect of the game. A simple hand-drawn art style, the static background and mobile characters with caricature-esque designs call back to classic styles in cartoons and games. Influences can be seen in particular from the point-and-click adventure Deponia, a popular German game that found its way into the English speaking market. However, Deponia had much more detailed and fluid graphics, so the first thoughts that came to mind were if the creators had a dire need to create a Nightmare before Christmas themed game and less time to do it.

Sound

Possibly the only area in this game that doesn’t have any real negative points. The soundtrack is nothing short of delightful, a jovial yet haunting thematic experience that always fits the setting and area the character is in, also representing who the player is talking to perfectly. The sounds effects, again, are appropriate, effective and downright funny at times. And despite the content, the voice-over recordings and clarity are exceptionally well done, often leaving the impression that professional and popular voice actors were involved (which they may have been, it’s quite hard to find a list of the cast).

Gameplay

In principle, the gameplay is straightforward and clear; Point, and click! And the developers have achieved that perfectly. There is definitive progression, means to identify interactive points and often times clear paths by which to solve puzzles. However, this is not always the case. Beyond the prologue, there are almost no puzzles that can be solved in the same area, and not all items interact in any obvious way. They range from mixing drugs in water and giving an alcoholic whisky, to tempting an insomniac pigeon onto an exploding bench using peanuts or giving an old coat to a vendor so they can complete their marinara sauce. This random element and constant traversal quickly wears thin, as the maps are small enough to search easily but your walking pace slow enough to make it a drag, and clear routes and answers are sometimes so far out of reach the only option is to randomly test. Every. Single. Possible. Outcome…

Even if most hints are available in dialogue, there is so much of it that just drones on and on, with intentionally dry, dull and repetitive characters, that it is an extreme challenge just to get the gist of what some of them are saying, let alone pick out any subtleties.

Also included is “Cat Mode”, where every option and dialogue feature is replaced by ‘meow’. Most likely an attempt to challenge players to play from memory or attempt speed runs, this feature is nearly an exact copy of Deponia’s “Droggeljug” mode, which does so with the word Droggeljug. The biggest challenge of this feature is that it requires players to actually find the willpower to complete the game first. The temptation to start again in this mode just to avoid some of the tedious and cringe-worthy dialogue was strong…

Conclusion

Darkestville Castle is a game that has clearly had a lot of thought and effort put into it. The characters, dialogue, artwork and soundtrack clearly represent this. However this review has been largely negative, and mostly down to the needless dragging on of dialogue, excessive use of humor pulled straight from Reddit, and frustrating back and forth traversal. This game will appeal to some, possibly for the exact criticisms mentioned, but the ironic, satirical humor that permeates this game will likely cause many to lose interest and never reach the end.

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Rating: 1.3/10 (4 votes cast)
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Darkestville Castle - Review, 1.3 out of 10 based on 4 ratings
Jayderlee
Jayderlee


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