In Darkestville Castle, you play a demon called Cid who liked to spend his time terrorising the townsfolk below, but your simple life of fear and menace is interrupted when a trio of demon hunters come to town.
Darkestville Castle is a point-and-click adventure which took me back to the days of playing Curse of Monkey Island. This particular era for the genre was not the peak period but it was one with a lot of innovation and visual style.
And a lot of charm.
Darkestville Castle carries on this spirit with a clean UI, where one click brings up three contextual options; interact, look, and talk. This keeps things simple and to the point, something the older classics of the genre often neglected to do with their glut of interaction options.
The simple pointer UI frees up the screen to show off the beautiful art design. The stages are all distinctly designed, most of the characters are larger than life and easy to remember, although a few of the more human-looking characters look noticeably less impressive than their more monstrous counterparts. Overall, Darkestville Castle is a very pretty and charming looking title.
The music is similarly evocative of the classic Lucasarts titles, particularly the Monkey Island games, there is something very relaxing about listening to the score for this game. At times I would leave a scene standing so I could take in the spooky vibe some more.
The game also boasts some quality voice acting, particularly Cid who had to carry the brunt of the comedy. Most of the cast are distinct and sound ‘right’ for their characters. There are a few instances of voices dropping/changing, which is quite jarring, but this sort of thing happened with the classic games once they made the shift into voice tracks so I went along with it. It is not ideal but it is an acceptable quirk of the genre.
As a majority of the genres most beloved titles are comedies and heavily puzzle-oriented, Darkestville Castle is no different. The game is funny, although not as laugh out loud funny as peak Lucasarts, and the puzzles are challenging but not TOO challenging. Typical of the genre, they do not always adhere to recognisable logic but if you stretch your mind a little bit, they are never unreasonable solutions. There is nothing particularly memorable here (note: I could probably complete The Secret of Monkey Island with my eyes closed at this point) but I generally had fun solving the puzzles in this game.
However, what trips up Darkestville Castle is the repetitive use of locations throughout the game. The absolute best Lucasarts games of the genre had a sense of profession, you never had to see the same place for too long (assuming you were good at the games and weren’t backtracking in a state of confusion) whereas Darkestville Castle reuses the same settings a little too often. This is especially noticeable when solving certain puzzles that involve a lot of back and forth between the same locations. You want more variety in environments with these sorts of games. It really is more of a compliment to the designers of Darkestville Castle’s world that my biggest complaint is that I wanted to see more of it.
I played the game on a PS4 and while it is functional with a dual shock 4, you really do miss the immediacy of a mouse when playing games like this. This is not a mark against the titles console port, it is simply one of the concessions you need to accept as a player when picking up this style of game on a console.
Overall, Darkestville Castle is a lovely throwback to an oft-overlooked genre. The point and click game has fallen out of fashion now, even the modernised style pioneered by Telltale Games are not as prevalent as the genre used to be in its Lucasarts heyday, so it was genuinely nice to just play a solid new entry in the genre.
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