UN0W3N
Cristian   Bucuresti, Romania
 
 
Game Reviewer
My group, Imperial Reviews
System Specs [pcpartpicker.com]

Blizzard ID - UN0W3N
Origin ID - UNOW3N
Uplay ID - UN0W3N
GOG ID - UN0W3N

Freedom and Independence are both illusions.
- Freedom is an illusion you think you achieved.
- Independence is an illusion someone else wants you to think you earned.
“It’s called the American Dream, because you have to be asleep to believe it.”
If violence is not the answer, you're asking the wrong questions? Humanity shall never change.

E pluribus unum
Far.
R-rated.
Less is more.
Friend or foe?
Nobody's perfect.
Road of no return.
Beat the Machine.
The essence of E3.
Hammering the Anvil.
A match made in Hell.
Swords are overrated.
Rick and Morty explained.
The sky was never the limit.
Not all remasters are pointless.
For fellow gun nuts and gamers.
Cuba called. She wants her song back.
Covers never sounded better than these.
Only the third weirdest thing you've seen today.
Every single title in my collection deserves its place.
What would modern gaming be without Downloadable Content?
One of the best intros to one of the worst PC ports that will never be on Steam.
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3.9 Hours played
Introduction
I’ll start by admitting that the hand-drawn, cartoonish graphic style in adventure games, is very dear to me. I grew up with LucasArts classics such as Day of the Tentacle, Full Throttle and the Monkey Island series. The third game in that franchise, 1997’s The Curse of Monkey Island is still my go-to template for judging any adventure video game which tries to emulate both those visuals and the rich sense of humor. I’m pleased to say that Epic Llama’s latest Steam project, Darkestville Castle, is just such a game which managed to remind me of times long past for the adventure genre. It’s the developer’s second title to be released on Steam after their 2015 debut, Champions Of Chaos 2. Darkestville is a new genre for the dev team, yet they made next to no mistakes in regards to it. So far, so good.

Story
The lovable rogue in Darkestville Castle is an antihero worthy of Guybrush Threepwood’s legacy. Instead of a “mighty pirate”, players shall now meet Cid, The Demon of Darkestville. A purposely goofy protagonist which almost reminded me of Dark Shadows’ Barnabas Collins, minus the family drama. So a vampire he is not and Cid doesn’t quite fit the image of a demon either. Consider him an avatar of trickery first and foremost. A prankster in the mythological vein of both Loki and Pan.

Cid the Demon has a castle of his own and seems to live a happy life by being left alone to his own devices, which in our case, means employing evil schemes on Darkestville’s citizens. His “nefarious plans” fail everytime so he’s regarded more as a nuisance than a threat. This is by no means a dark tale involving actual demons and that becomes obvious right from the first few minutes in-game, after you’re introduced to the antihero via stained glass images depicting his early life and “exploits”.

The peace and quiet get disrupted one night after Cid’s pet fish, Domingo is kidnapped by a team of equally clumsy demon hunters which mistake him for his owner. All sorts of funny situations shall arise, some of which hover close to black humor, without crossing the line. The story itself is of decent length and it’s divided by a prelude, two interludes and three chapters. Epic Llama did their “homework” and went for a well structured and self-contained storyline instead of an episodic format which seems like the more popular choice in nowadays adventure games. I’ve been waiting for over an year, to play Slap Village’s second chapter which is still nowhere to be seen, so I appreciate any title that can wrap things up nicely and then focus on a sequel without resorting to cliffhangers.

Graphics
It’s no surprise that the game’s powered by the Unity Engine. The developers needed a strong framework for their project, while they focused on those skillfully drawn backgrounds and characters. Quality caricatures which visually represent the absurdity of the subplots. Apart from the static assets, the animations were also spot on. From motion to speech patterns, it’s that noticeable effort, that extra mile if you will, which separates a story-driven adventure from a run-of-the-mill Hidden Object Game. Darkestville Castle scaled perfectly to 4K resolution and it never featured a single frame rate drop, nevermind a glitch or crash to desktop.

Audio
The English voice acting I opted for, never felt unconvincing and the voice actors were inspired choices. The game felt a bit off in Spanish or Russian, but the options are there if you need them. Same applies to the subtitles and so far I’ve only spotted a single typo in my entire playthrough. In one conversation with an NPC, the misspelling of “which” with “witch”. Slap Village had far more typos so I won’t complain about that or deny the fact that I need to spell check my own reviews, several times after I’ve just published them. Errare humanum est…

Gameplay
The gameplay itself follows the classic guidelines left behind by Darkestville Castle’s many spiritual predecessors. Players control a main character in his direct interaction with NPCs either through dialogue or items. An inventory system allows for the collection and potential combination of several items into a single one. The dialogues have multiple options to choose from and they can lead to the acquisition of new objects or story progression. Cid the Demon doesn’t stray from the norms of previous adventure protagonists and perhaps that’s an issue, if you’re looking for visible character development.

The puzzles involving the aforementioned items are never that hard to figure out and spotting them during new scene backgrounds, is made even easier by the inclusion of a “hint button” in the upper right side of the screen. Some combinations won’t be straightforward so I suggest you experiment at any time, with the items already present in your inventory. Interaction with the objects and NPCs, features three options which range from touch/grab/eat, look and talk. It goes without saying that you need to thoroughly examine each new place you visit. HOG or not, the key to success is always hidden in plain sight.

In the end, my biggest gripe with Darkestville Castle is that its jokes alone, can’t carry the game without the inclusion of some form of replay value. There is very little to do other than chat in a few dialogue lines with each NPC until you figure out how to use an item and where. Curse of Monkey Island and pretty much every other LucasArts adventure game, knew how to place challenging puzzles between (not-so) friendly chats, throw a funny song on occasion and even easter eggs or pop culture references. Anachronistic elements by themselves won’t cut it in the long run.

Verdict
Darkestville Castle's visual style sets it apart from the conventional 3D graphics that are becoming the rule of thumb for the genre, sadly. I grew up with 2D cartoons, so biased or not, I prefer them. They represent a higher level of dedication and hard work which 3D rendering diluted more often than not. I’m not an expert in animation, I just prefer good ol’ 2D methods. It all boils down to taste in the end, so you’re free to prefer the newer, modern 3D forms of animated expression. Darkestville Castle will surely not disappoint fans of the adventure genre looking for a more light-hearted perspective and puzzles which never force you to seek online solutions.

Strong Points
+ Steam Achievements.
+ Pleasant visuals & sounds.
+ Humorous story and characters.

Weak Points
- No in-game collectibles or incentives for replay value.
- Puzzles are too easy, most of the time.
- No Steam Trading Cards.

Rating 70/100

This review was submitted for Imperial Reviews and The Inner Circle Games Network[www.ticgn.com] through the generous contribution of the game’s publisher.
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UN0W3N Sep 23 @ 9:27am 
Thank you, Scott. A most pleasant weekend to you as well!
X-Plore Sep 23 @ 6:54am 
Your reviews are spot on. Have a great weekend, my friend.
LiberumVeto Sep 19 @ 9:15pm 
Nice to meet you!
L_Bloodsong Sep 18 @ 2:38am 
Absolutely. You do a greater favor to other gamers by being honest. Thanks for that.
UN0W3N Sep 18 @ 2:37am 
Thank you, Lauren. Even if I do my best to avoid games that seem broken from afar, my gut feeling does misfire from time to time and I end up in such a situation in which there aren't enough redeeming points to a title, in order to deny reviewing it in a negative light. Honesty must prevail in the end, so I abide by that.
L_Bloodsong Sep 18 @ 1:56am 
Fantastic review on Morph Girl! Very informative and well written.