Party Of Three: Mysterious Castle

By Adam Smith on March 1st, 2012 at 9:55 am.

the dwarf is strangely unenthusiastic

I wrote about Mysterious Castle just before Christmas, at which point I was living in a modern apartment. I now live in an old house so logic dictates if I write about it again, by summer I’ll be living in something even more like a castle. Hopefully not a Sinister Oubliette.

The game is a grid-based, tactical spell and sword ‘em up set in a randomly generated isometric world, populated with monsters to slay with turn-based tactics and the occasional village of friendly folk. There’s a demo (Win/Mac) and the full release follows a ‘pay what you want’ model and you can even want to pay nothing. There are reports of Windows 7 64 bit incompatibility at present, so worth checking the demo first.

Videos of this sort of thing aren’t always the most thrilling blockbuster events, but this should stir up glowing memories of Tactics Ogre and Shining Force in those minds where such memories exist.

There have been plenty of additions since I last played, including actual quests that can give some purpose to the looting and slaughter, but the main pleasure is still the smooth and simple handling of the party, exploring in speedy synchrony and then battling in slick, step-by-step tactical loveliness.

Available for PC and Mac.

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47 Comments »

  1. Kdansky says:

    It seems you play as a party of blind adventurers.

    • Inigo says:

      They have glaucoma. The dwarf just smoked the last of their “medicine”, hence his dialogue.

    • eclectocrat says:

      Developer here!

      It’s really dark in a forest at night! But you can set the ambient light level from pitch black to daytime if you prefer.

  2. apocraphyn says:

    Well, if it plays anything like the most recent Tactics Ogre for the PSP, they can have my money. Put well over a hundred hours into that game and still haven’t finished it, brilliant stuff.

    Been missing turn-based tactical RPGs of this kind on the PC.

    • Kdansky says:

      I’m still convinced that Disgaea is pretty much the best game on the PS2.

    • eclectocrat says:

      It’s not really an RPG, yet. There’s no story to speak of, so comparisons to Tactics Ogre (which had great writing) are tenuous at best. Keep an eye out for future version though, I’m working towards making it more of a randomly generated RPG game.

    • apocraphyn says:

      Hmm, okay. Well, thanks for the info! I shall be watching intently :)

    • lurkalisk says:

      This is generally something I’ve been watching intently for awhile.

      I think I’ve held off too long.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      “I’m still convinced that Disgaea is pretty much the best game on the PS2. ”

      LIES! Makai Kingdom (set in the Disgaea universe) and Disgaea 2 are even better!

      So yeah, I’m also looking forward to Mysterious Castle.

    • RedWurm says:

      Nah, I much prefer the plot and characters of Disgaea. And the psp version has had some nice additions to it as well.

      Disgaea, Final Fantasy Tactics and Tactics Ogre more than justified the price of my PSP.

  3. Jackablade says:

    I’d have thought “sinister oubliette” would have been a bit of a tautology.

    • CKScientist says:

      It could be a warm, light oubliette that smells faintly of lilac.

    • Adam Smith says:

      I’ve visited some charming ones. Amazing what you can do with soft, strategic lighting and a bit of positive thinking.

  4. Jams O'Donnell says:

    You had me at “Tactics Ogre.” You should put those words higher up next time.

    • FriendGaru says:

      Whenever I hear “tactics” my hopes are immediately raised that the next word is “ogre.” I lead a very disappointing life.

    • Shadowcat says:

      FriendGaru: I’m assuming the usual internal dialogue is along the lines of: “Tactics!? Oh… Grrr.”

    • uncas says:

      I really love the comments and the word play here!

      Not to mention the great games journalism too! Quite an amazing phenomenon.

  5. Bluerps says:

    Oh good, quests. I liked the fighting and the looting, but just running around the countryside and killing random monsters with random characters is only amusing for a fairly limited amount of time. The last time I played (which was after I’ve read about it here), I had enough after half an hour.

    • eclectocrat says:

      Well, hate to break it to you, but there’s little in the way of quests. Maybe the game’s not for you. The next version will however have many quests, I’m working out a quest generation system that I’m pretty proud of.

      It’s more of a roguelike, in the sense that you’re just kill things and getting more powerful. If your looking for story, move along (until the next version).

    • Bluerps says:

      No, I don’t think that it necessarily needs a story – but something that provides a more far-reaching goal than “become powerful” would be nice.

  6. Sidorovich says:

    This looks fab, right up my alley. Can’t wait to give the demo a try. I don’t usually go for roguelikes, but this seems neat.

  7. RegisteredUser says:

    Aw man, but 64 bit Windows 7 is what I use. :(

    • eclectocrat says:

      It might work for you. I’ve had a few people run it just fine under Windows 7 64 bit, but a few others have random crashes. If you can get through the demo without it crashing, then the full version should be fine. Hopefully I’ll track down the issue and fix it so it works on all 64 bit systems soon.

    • R10T says:

      Don’t worry, try a demo, it works for me.. (Win 7,64bit)

    • Tuan says:

      Really disappointing about the 64-bit issues. Running windows 7 64-bit is not exactly uncommon, especially in relation to the group I would think that is buying indie games…

    • Adam Smith says:

      It’s more a warning not to put any cash forward than a guarantee it won’t work. If the demo runs fine, the full game should as well. But, yeah, hopefully it will be fixed soon!

    • Alextended says:

      It’s a bit harsh to outright warn people against paying just because of a few bugs when in other instances they’re urged to pay for things we have no clue how they will even develop like certain kickstarter projects… At least everyone can actually see and sample what direction this is taking. Just give people the facts and I’m sure they won’t expect a full AAA+++ game out of this thing.

  8. Berzee says:

    Ahh, the dictates of logic.

  9. mollemannen says:

    it’s a shame ther isn’t multiplayer. always thought these game would be great as multiplayer games. would resemble a session of dungeons and dragons if everyone had their own char.

  10. Iconik says:

    May or may not work on 64bit Windows. Eek. That kinda sucks. This is a site full of gamers. I don’t know if anyone here uses 32bit.

    Any ideas as to why this doesn’t want to cooperate with 64bit, eclectocrat? Any ideas as to how to fix it?

    Oooh. I see you’ve answered this a bit already. My apologies.

    • eclectocrat says:

      Unfortunately no clear idea right now. I have a hunch that its a graphics driver issue, but can’t reproduce the problem on the one 64 bit system I have available to me now. Several people have told me that the game works fine on their 64bit Windows, while a few have had trouble. I’ll dig into the problem as soon as I can find at least one system where I can trigger the crash.

      If you can get through the demo without it crashing, then it should work for you. If you’re not comfortable with the risk, you can just pay $0 for the game. In case you do end up playing it please let me know how things go.

    • Iconik says:

      That’s silly. I’ll just pay for it!

    • uncas says:

      I use Win 7 32bit. (upgraded from Vista).

  11. wcanyon says:

    Ahoy Dev, here’s some feedback:

    - first, I don’t really know what Tactics Ogre is but I really dug Shining Force way back when
    - I’m starting in a dungeon? Not sure, I just see tiles floating in space. Some idea of depth would be good here, like if I’m on a walkway show the tiles going down Z a bit
    - love the flyouts (cursor keys)
    - when I have a character selected and click on another character, the first character wants to move toward the second, I hate that in TBS games
    - right clicking on an item in inventory should hide it’s info flyout, or there should be some way to hide the options popup list
    - how do I get rid of the settings menu? needs an OK / Cancel or something, I had to press quit to get rid of it
    - your readme is jacked in Notepad — windows likes CRLF, not just LF, sad but true
    - sadly I’m only able to play about 2 mins before it crashes, 64b Win7
    - Edit: switching away from DirectX seemed to fix my crash issues
    - at one point my dwarf died, then a few minutes later I had a guy that looked a lot like my dwarf following me around but he wasnt in my party
    - no rest function? how do I heal if I have no food? the apple trees seem to be typically on the other side of a fight

    I’ll certainly keep an eye on this, it reminds me of Hinterland, which I almost-loved.

    • eclectocrat says:

      -Yeah, dungeons look like you’re in space :)
      -You mean when you switch characters? Or when you click on an enemy?
      -You need to press ‘up’ to get rid of the settings. Press F1 to see all the keybindings.
      -Whoops, will fix the readme for Windows! Thanks for the heads up.
      -Did you hear any sound FX before the game crashed? Hmm… I wonder… When you pick up shrooms a sound FX automatically plays. Maybe the sound system is causing the crash… Something to consider…

      You’ve already helped a ton, but if you find the time you could send me your system specs, including processor and graphics card info.

      Thanks for the crash report! I hope I can fix it soon.

  12. Alextended says:

    Pleasing presentation, nice combat mechanics, good interface.

    Random crashes, guaranteed inability to load a save file after some time.

    Will buy once it’s a little more developed and stable, very promising & fun stuff.

    • eclectocrat says:

      Just to be sure, are you on 64 bit Windows too? If it crashes for you then you can help me a ton by telling me your processor, graphics card, and soundcard specs. Pretty please…?

    • Alextended says:

      Yes, Windows 7 64bit.

      C2D E8500, Nvidia GTX285, latest drivers.

      Soundcard is onboard sound on an ASUS P5Q motherboard.

      I did try to play with the music disabled and it didn’t really help.

      The crashes aren’t frequent and seem random, not tied to a particular action.

      The save load issue brings up this error:
      http://img444.imageshack.us/img444/8519/mysteriouscastle2012022.png
      It also seems to occur randomly while playing normally and saving frequently.

    • eclectocrat says:

      Thanks a bunch for the report. The data is really helpful, hopefully I’ll be able to resolve the issue soon.

    • Alextended says:

      Also, the in game save deletion doesn’t function, I had to manually delete the files every time i encountered that error upon starting the game and trying to load my last save.

    • eclectocrat says:

      Many thanks Alextended! Your bug report and screenshot brought about a quick turnaround on fix to the problems loading the game, and the broken delete button. The 64 bit issues are not solved yet, but with people giving such detailed reports, I’m sure I’ll get to the bottom of it soon.

  13. wild_quinine says:

    I think you mean ‘dismal oubliette’.

  14. MartinNr5 says:

    I will now get this just because the developer is active in these comments!

  15. ffs_jay says:

    Great stuff, this. Looking forward to seeing how it develops, I do love me some turn-based tactics.

  16. Ataraxzy says:

    Just wanted to report that the demo seems to work flawlessly on a Dell Inspiron 6500 running 32-bit Ubuntu 11.10 and Wine 1.3.

    Very good job!

  17. Alextended says:

    For anyone having crashes under Win7 64bit, the kind that occurs every time you try to pass through an otherwise seemingly ordinary part of the generated map, try turning off your mini map. It worked for me, it eliminated 100% of my crashes (so far), and somehow fixes the issue too (I can then go back and forth that part without issues with the mini map on) but of course it’s best to keep it off as there are bound to be many more such instances so only bring the mini map on when you get lost or want to get back somewhere and can’t remember how, while waiting for another patch.

    • Alextended says:

      New info about that crash, it also doesn’t seem to occur if you switch to using Open GL instead of Direct X, with the mini map still on. Again, I’ve only done limited testing so far, so there could be other crashing issues, but if true, then yay, there are no major issues in this build after all, though he’s working on patching it anyway of course, and working towards v2.0 too. Sucks I didn’t find out earlier and spent all that time saving every step to avoid losing progress, I was sure I had tried OGL before without success…