Freeware Garden: Haunted Castle

A skeletal head-scratcher appears.

Nobody knew about it, but Haunted Castle is a game that has been around since the 1970s and, apparently, this makes it beyond any doubt the oldest game this column/garden will ever cover. Most probably one of the oddest too, as the Haunted Castle really isn’t much of a video game. It’s a board game.

Before it was originally digitized as an MS-DOS program 12 years ago and according to its creator Elen Heart, it originally looked like this:

Cardboard bits; lovely cardboard bits!

See the cards, models, dice and actual game board? Definitely a board game, then.

A board game that has for the first time become available to people who aren’t the dev’s children or friends, and running on modern Windows PCs – that is to say, available to us.

Besides being a unique kind of freebie, Haunted Castle also happens to be a really fun and easy to learn game that usually takes less than an hour to play. Each player chooses one of the six available characters and sets off to explore the titular castle turn-by-turn by either moving around or equipping an appropriate item. They can also make wise use of their unique special abilities. The first player to collect one of the two available treasures and escape the castle wins.

It’s as simple as that really, but the more you play the more the game’s depth and tactical choices will become apparent, and you’ll appreciate Haunted Castle for the finely crafted thing that it is.

Just do keep in mind that despite being playable on a PC and thus not requiring you to find one of those rare, empty and suitable-for-analog-gaming surfaces, Haunted Castle is very much a board game and thus requires a friend or two to play along as no A.I. players are provided. On the plus side, you don’t have to shuffle cards and it does all its randomizations by itself. Not that I’d mind buying a physical copy of the thing if it ever got made…


  1. Premium User Badge

    Lexx87 says:

    Seeing as there wasn’t a Freeware Gardeners Question Time this week (boo!) here is my little video showing the end of all 100 levels of Impulse: link to

    Video: link to

    It’s a rather dull video as the final level is a trial and error pisstake which isn’t interesting to watch, and I finish level 99 in one go from recording so you don’t even get the fun of me failing 1000 times either. You can scroll in and out to make it easier to see yourself in tight spots, in-case you think i’ve edited the video madly/poorly for no reason.

    Either way, it’s a fantastic game and I recommend it completely.

    I’ll give Haunted a go with the missus this week!

  2. Gravy100 says:

    This AGS talk reminds me – have there been any good AGS games released in the last few years, there were some fun ones with the likes of ‘5 days a Stranger’ and ‘The Journey Down’ but just wondering whether the rise of the indie scene where people can make money for their endeavours has killed off the more humble freeware adventure?

  3. LogicalDash says:

    Sure, all of Wadjet Eye‘s games are made in AGS. Cart Life, too, though it appears its site is down again so you’ll have to find your own download.

    • Gravy100 says:

      Ah yes, I’ve played alot of those, I still need to finish up on blackwell, great games!

  4. rexx.sabotage says:

    Ummm Rab?