Monday, 8 February 2021

Magic Castle (Playstation)

 Some of you will already know about this game, but for those who don't, it started life in 1998 having been created using a Net Yaroze as a pitch to be shipped around to various publishers in the hopes of getting funding to turn it into a full commercial release. Unfortunately, none of the publishers were interested, and the game was put away and forgotten about for over twenty years, until the creators rediscovered it, finished it up, and released it for free online!


What the game is is an action roguelike, where you pick one of four characters (Knight, Fighter, Wizard, and Archer), and attempt to make your way through twenty floors of a castle full of monsters and treasure, that is, of course, different every time you play. To get from floor to floor, you have to keep killing monsters on your current floor until one drops a giant bouncing key. Attack the key, then go onto the next floor. It might sound like a pretty generic concept, but it's executed so well, that I can't hold that against it at all.


The fact is that the game is a ton of fun to play! All four characters play differently, but you'll have a good time whichever one you pick. Not only do they have different stats, but also special abilities, some of which are only unlocked when you find better equipment for them, though. For example, finding the Wizard's upgraded staff lets them fly around, and getting the Archer's upgraded bow makes their arrows fly through enemies, hitting them multiple times, and so on. There's also various rings and scrolls and stuff that all have various different effects, too, though I don't want to spoil too much by listing them here.


As well as being fun, Magic Castle is also a game with a ton of charm. Though the graphics are very simple, I love the way the game looks, and the castle being furnished with paintings, grand pianos, bookcases and so on just adds so much character to the game. Bridging the gap between mechanics and aesthetics are all the secrets and other little things to discover, not just in the game world itself, but also there's a whole menu of mysterious "unlockables"! Even the fact that the game isn't one hundred percent finished can create some funny moments, like the "blue leaf" item, which just gives a message of "IT'S NOT FOR THIS GAME. THERE'S NO POISON HERE."upon use. Also, though the mltiplayer function is apparently not yet properly implemented, you can use the first controller to move players one and three simultaneously, which can provide a bit of extra amusement.


Another thing that's interesting is the option on the main menu labelled "Training", which isn't actually a training mission like you might expect, but a kind of test mode, that shows off various functions and features of the game. If you pick this mode, press select to goto the next scene each time. It might not be interesting to some people, but I enjoyed pulling the curtain back for a peek. 


I definitely recommend that everyone goes and plays Magic Castle. I've already played it for hours, and I think I'll be playing it for a long time to come, too. Plus, it's free! One final thing I should mention, for those who aren't already in the know: Net Yaroze Europe has a mountain of information on this game, including developer interviews, an online manual, and more. So go have a look there, too.

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