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.