I know what you might be thinking. There’s a checklist running through your mind. Action platformer: check. Art style recalls 8-bit era: check. Chiptune soundtrack? Can’t tell from a screenshot, but… check.
But hold on now. Just because Castle in the Darkness looks and sounds overly familiar doesn’t mean it’s not worth your time. I call to the stand last year’s Shovel Knight, which seemed to win over virtually everyone who tried out its signature trowel.
Castle in the Darkness comes from developer Matt Kap and Nicalis. Kap is the chap who drew the art for The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, and he’s been working on Castle in the Darkness for a few years now – any time when he’s not been working on other projects as part of Nicalis. Have a peek at the game’s trailer, which happily breaks with tradition and is backed with a slice of power metal rather than a chiptune bit-ditty.
Those with powerful and muscular memories may recall a demo released several years ago under the name Castle in the Darkness Prologue (no colon! Hurrah!). This demo, which featured a unique scenario not in the full game, is no longer available. That’s a shame as I’d like to get a feel for how this plays, but a two-year old demo isn’t going to be terribly representative and I can understand it being disappeared.
Still! Kap has been involved with some well-regarded platformers over the course of his career, so there’s some pedigree behind Castle in the Darkness. It could even prove a promising candidate for 2015’s retro platformer explore-’em-up du jour. Who knows? Not me. Not until I get this time machine sorted.
The game’s inspirations reportedly include the Metroid, Megaman and Castlevania games, which are also the sort of names you’d tick off on a checklist if making a game like this, but I think I’ll leave the cynicism at the door and wait until I can give Castle in the Darkness a try for myself. It’s due on February 5th.