I’ve been meaning to check this out for quite a while now and today I figured, hey, why not give it a go? The game I’m talking about is Lost Castle by Hunter Studio which is published by Neon Doctrine. Honestly, I’m not sure why I put it off as I got it ages ago and as it’s been out since 2016. I think my main issue was just that I had too many other games to play. When I got the game, I was still playing Team Fortress 2… meanwhile, when I stopped playing TF2, I started playing League of Legends, and then I was into a lot of MMOs and HotS and other Indie Games and Minecraft… and then I got back into League of Legends. Either way, after playing Lost Castle for a while I kind of ended up being bummed out about the fact that I didn’t play it sooner. Here’s why!
Developer: Hunter Studio Publisher: Neon Doctrine (fka Another Indie) Genre: Hand-Drawn, Action, Roguelite, Beat 'em up, 2D, Indie Release Date: September 1st, 2016 Reviewed on: PC Available on: PC, PS4, Switch Copy was purchased.
Lost Castle is an action-roguelite with inspirations taken from beat ’em up games. An earl performed a summoning ritual to summon a demon from hell to take over the world but failed and ended up letting the portal open. With the gates of hell being wide open, demons started swarming out and taking over this castle and threatening the world. They made themselves at home in the castle turning the castle into the way to go for greedy adventurers such as yourself!
Head into the castle only to get captured and thrown into its jail! Hooray! You can roam away but beating the castle is rather hard. The gameplay itself is somewhat simple. You hit enemies with your weapons using one button, you have one skill, and then there are certain stats. You can only damage enemies in the horizontal which makes hitting them a bit tricky but the hitboxes seem generous enough to make it not frustrating. While tackling enemies is quite easy, their numbers and the lack of mobility is the most challenging factor about the game.
You can easily get swarmed in Single Player and with traps and projectiles to dodge, you can easily get knocked out by an axe or an arrow that rushes towards you. Unlike other games, you don’t have any dashes or other means of mobility. Instead, you may jump or walk around and some of your attacks and skills can lock you into animations, making it rather hard for you to survive. And then you have these enemies that have a plethora of attacks and later on can tie you up in nests or poison you even, which is tricky.
To add to the challenge, you may try out some of the challenges that get added daily and test your skills in another hardcore retro-action run. Also, knowledge is very much key. You will have to figure out how certain mechanics and items work since the game doesn’t tell you much about anything. You get a quick pop-up when you acquire items but I find it, especially when you’re in combat, very hard to get to items and use them. Items like the bramble seed and the crystal didn’t make sense to me. It’s not like the descriptions are bad or anything but the issue rather is that they’re very vague. I guess roguelite games like The Binding of Isaac also do that where they leave the discovery to the player instead of telling you everything about the game and holding your hand until you reach the first boss. So, what I experienced was more of a trial and error approach to things, which isn’t my cup of tea personally but could very much work out for other players.
The items themselves are randomly generated as well. I believe the stats are set for every piece of equipment but you may find the same staff twice for instance and they may have different abilities each time, which is cool overall as you can adjust your build based on that. You as a player are an adventurer and more of a jack of all trades, which I didn’t like. I mean, you can swap between weapons but you can only carry one weapon at a time. You could run around like a rogue with dual daggers or cast magic like a mage but it doesn’t feel like there’s classes or anything and you’re not forced into one specific archetype, which is a nice thing. Form your own build. You’re an adventurer without a class essentially.
Lost Castle is really cute but also really hard. I love that about this game since you wouldn’t expect the challenge from a game that has an art style this adorable. The hand-drawn characters and environments stand out and make the game look unique. I guess that’s the best way to describe it. At first, I didn’t like the character design but every time you die, a new character gets thrown into the dungeon or you get reborn as a new one, which is something that I’m not entirely sure about. Either way, it’s nice to see randomly generated characters being playable in each and every run. It’s interesting and a fun little concept that reminds me very much of games like Rogue Legacy.
So, the game is challenging mostly because of the lack of mobility. You can counteract that by giving you defence or mobility via permanent character upgrades after your run, so it’s not too much of an issue. I think I have a bigger issue with the fact that potions are randomised each run, similar to pills in The Binding of Isaac. It made me as a player question if it’s worth taking them if I could lose 20% of my health in seconds by taking one. The benefits don’t seem to outweigh the negative effects and I had more bad potions than good ones in my runs so far.
But apart from that, I don’t have much of an issue. You can get some good runs that are very powerful by acquiring weapons, gear and artefacts. Items can be used quickly and there are plenty of heals. I’d imagine the game to be more accessible or a bit easier in multiplayer but even in single-player, I more than enjoyed myself and I find the mashup of “beat ’em up” and “action-roguelite” quite fascinating and interesting. Definitely worth a try!