Retro-Pixel Castles Is A Roguelike Village Sim

When I was but a boy, I used to draw little top-down worlds on paper and then systematically destroy them with imagined earthquakes and lots of eraser shavings. Now that I am a man, all hair and forgotten hope and sagging flesh, the nearest I get to those innocent joys is turtling up in strategy games and hoping the bigger boys – I mean, men – don’t attack. Perhaps Retro-Pixel Castles will serve me better. It has recently launched in Steam Early Access and it’s a “roguelike village sim”, with a top-down pixel engine smart enough to render shadows, particle effects and nostalgic feelings about my childhood.

This trailer shows a tech demo from September and walks through both many of the features of the game and of the engine. I don’t know why its creators decided to show off the particle system by spraying everything with blood, but I like the way it slides down the sloping rooftops.

Alice rightly coined the term Minecraftbut to describe a range of cubey buildy survivey games, and I wonder if the same naming scheme ought to be extended to Dwarffortressbuteasiertoplay. Probably not, but Retro-Pixel Castles does boast a similar-but-simpler set-up of frontier survival with indirectly-controlled AI villagers who can form relationships and who have personality traits.

That interests me less than the map editor, which is a good thing considering that it’s the only feature that currently has save functionality. I had fun painting the scenery with trees and houses and watching a starting troop of villagers start to hack their way through the resources, but there’s no way to record any of the work they do. Updates are currently arriving either every couple of days or every couple of weeks, so hopefully that changes soon.

The game was previously funded through Kickstarter, where it doubled its $5,000 target. It’s £11/$15 on Steam.


  1. Harlander says:

    Looks a wee bit Rimworldy.

    • Artist says:

      Indeed. Like a new and more ugly take on the same genre… Gosh, this gfx is really ugly..

      • Great Cthulhu says:

        I sorta like it actually. Reminds me of the kinds of graphics we had when I was growing up.

        The music on the other hand… Ugh!

      • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

        I find it quite charming, it could be a twin to Lemmings graphics-wise.

        • Harlander says:

          Mm, or a much, much more colourful Powermonger

        • Rayvolution says:

          I’ve gotten that response quite a lot, many people also compare it to the original Castles and Castles II on DOS, back in the early 90s. :)

    • Wowbagger says:

      I may have a dirty mind but ‘rimworld’ doesn’t sound very appealing; Rimmerworld on the other hand is faintly amusing.

  2. remon says:

    Ooh, a modern Rampart?

    • Rayvolution says:

      It does have some Rampart inspiration hidden in there somewhere, but it has more inspiration driven from games like Towns and Dwarf Fortress. Just with the “You’ll eventually die” survival elements from roguelikes thrown in there. :)

  3. Zankman says:

    The visual style and music (if that really is in-game music) may put off many people. Personally, I can live with the visuals although I dislike the music.

    Honestly the comparison to Rimworld is apt… And unless this game has very good AI, a lot of things to do, non-player villages and some detailed info about each single villager, I don’t see it really standing up to Rimworld.

    • Harlander says:

      Well, Rimworld really only has two of those things you listed at the moment, but yeah, at the moment this seems to be all potential with very little actually done.

      I couldn’t find a roadmap on the RPC site to see where the plans for this would take it.

    • Crafter says:

      I don’t know if the comparison is fair.
      There is a lot of micromanagement in Rimworld.
      For example, you can’t just plan a stone wall. You need to order your colonists to mine metal and to make stone bricks. For that you need to create a storage area and a stonecutting table.
      I really hope that improvements are planned in that area. Otherwise, complex crafting (like clothes) is going to be a chore..

      Pixel Castles on the other hand seems to put the emphasis on the absence of direct control.

      • Cinek says:

        Looking forward for a moment when I won’t even have to plan anything. Cause… you know.. it is going to be a chore! Games should totally play themselves.

        • Baines says:

          That’s what YouTube is for. Excuse me now, as I’m going to go watch some Deadly Premonition.

        • Crafter says:

          Yeah totally, we should remove all these useless things like pathfinding, job priorities, let’s even completely remove the AI.
          While we are at it, reloading a revolver in an fps should be a minigame where you have to precisely place each bullet, and we should not have simple move keys, each leg should be controlled indepently like in Octodad.

          The thing is, Tynan is adding more and more complex tasks to RW and I don’t think that the UI and AI are going to scale very well to that complexity. The current game work relatively well in its current state (UX/AI falls flat on its face on certain tasks however, like cell divided planning vs a fire spanning multiple cells, or the task AI not considering the traveling cost only the direct distance, but those can be considered to simply be bugs that will get fixed eventually). Complex tasks however are already showing the limits of the current task/craft/job implementations.

        • Joshua Northey says:

          Games are about decisions. Maybe you like games where you make decisions about where to place a temporary stockpile, and what order to assemble some simple tasks. Other people would rather make higher level decisions about whether and where to build a wall.

          one is not better than the other, and the game isn’t “playing itself” if you don’t want stockpiles. I mean even in Dwarf fortress you do not individually aim each axe or chisel stroke. Stop being an idiot.

  4. cpy says:

    Well, it looks like a crap, if only it had Settlers-Setters 2ish graphics, it would be much much better.

    • Cinek says:

      Yep – my first thought while watching a video was: this game needs Settlers 2 graphics.

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      There it is again. I wish I could find and link to my comment from the last time this came up (regarding a different game, as I recall), but I’ll do my best here. Something tells me it’ll be a lot less eloquent because I’m honestly getting a little fed up of saying it.

      I think it looks lovely, but this isn’t about whether either of us like the style. This is about you bluntly calling the visuals crap without any interesting or useful input or critique. It’s a fairly common and seemingly automatic reaction to anything people don’t personally like, these days, but that doesn’t make it a good thing.
      See, I just don’t think you understand the amount of time, effort and heart that goes into making a game.* Any game. Even a bad game, even the worst game. Which is why it’s so easy for you to dismiss it offhand like that just because you don’t like how it looks. And hey, you’re quite entitled to hate how it looks, it sure isn’t for everybody! But just stop and think for a second what you’re doing, when you’re taking months or years of effort and dismissing it with “it looks crap”. Do you actually, really want to come across that way, or did you just not think?
      In future I’d suggest you provide actual, useful critique that the developer can take on board (or not, if they so choose). Either that, or just move on and look at something you do like.

      *I say this because I’m an artist myself, I spend a huge amount of my social time interacting with other artists from various mediums, and I have yet to hear anybody say something like “it’s crap” when they DO understand how much heart goes into creating something.

    • Lanfranc says:

      Yeah, well, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.

  5. ErickTohir says:

    This game is RPG or not?

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    • Rayvolution says:

      No, it’s not an RPG. But it will have some RPG elements, for example the villagers have statistics, level up and will eventually have their own little inventory. :)

      From the game description:
      “Retro-Pixel Castles is at heart a village simulator. But, where most village simulators focus mostly on balancing your village, RPC also throws in a heavy blend of raw survival and tactical gameplay. If you could imagine a roguelike village sim, that’s what this game is all about! In RPC you will lose. Endless survival is impossible, the goal is to see how long you will survive. RPC takes it’s inspiration from other village management games like Dwarf Fortress and Banished and mixes them together with elements of survival games like Don’t Starve with a sprinkling of some RTS elements seen in games like Command and Conquer there are even some classic Tower Defense concepts to help you bottleneck and handle the onslaught of monsters trying to kill off your poor little villagers.”

  6. Ubik2000 says:

    All I want is to play something like the overworld sections of ActRaiser, why is no one helping me do this.

  7. BTAxis says:

    “You can’t win!”

    Yep, bye.

  8. Rayvolution says:

    Hey all, I’m Raymond Doerr. The Developer for this game. If you have any questions feel free to ask. ;)

  9. WyldFyr says:

    First reaction: Throw money at the screen!
    But then I realized I didn’t need to, Its on EA! Which got me thinking; haven’t I done this before?
    (curse you, Wollay!!) … So, on second thought, I think I’m going to wait it out one more round and see what happens. I really like the direction this game is headed in, and that’s the problem: its not there yet.