Castle In The Darkness Is Cast Into The Light

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.

11 Comments

  1. Dorga says:

    Seems nice but its mechanics look still kinda obscure to me

  2. aoanla says:

    As one of the few weird people who didn’t get on with Shovel Knight (I blame the “taking money off you when you die” thing) but loved Cave Story, I am betting that I’ll quite like Castle In Darkness.

    Although, as Dorga notes, kinda hard to tell from the trailer (but it looks more Cave Story than Shovel Knight to me at the moment).

  3. faelnor says:

    Man, that screenshot. You’re right about that checklist but it goes longer than that. Clock tower level: check. Gear as platform: check. Floating medusa heads: check. Them moving along a sinusoidal path? Gear platform rotating? Yeah, probably check.

    I’m a bit torn, this could be fun but I’m not sure I can enjoy such derivative design.

    • SuddenSight says:

      What is this, pixel art? Platforms? Predominantly brown color scheme? How derivative.

      One wonders how you manage to play any games.

      • Frank says:

        It’s not just the aesthetics, but also the Castlevania mechanics (sinusoidal fliers in infinite waves, bones getting tossed in a high arc, a rinky-dink sword). I play plenty of games (including all the 2D Metroids) without partaking of the Castlevania subgenre and the indies that (seemingly mindlessly) ape it.

    • fishyboy says:

      looking at the video there’s a lot more than castlevania here: the big plant monster is a nod to monster party, and i think the mushroom critter and blue hedgehog are pretty self-explanatory. frankly this seems less like an attempt to recapture the gameplay of games like that and more of a vehicle to deliver a bunch of references to those games.

  4. Turkey says:

    I dunno. I’m not seeing the same quality of art direction and gameplay variety as when I saw the first Shovel Knight trailer.

  5. spiche says:

    Also, it’s drawing heavily from the NES game Deadly Towers, just look at the character and his sword-thrusting (throwing?) attack

    link to youtube.com (lol :3)

  6. SubparFiddle says:

    Eh, I avoid Nicalis after how they treated Nifflas with NightSky. Tyrone Rodriquez comes off as such a prick.

    • Telkir says:

      I too have deep misgivings about Nicalis and refuse to buy from them. The way they dealt with the La Mulana remake for Wii smacked significantly of their failings rather than those of Nigoro.

      But about the game: Looks cool enough, but I have enough in my backlog that I’ll be passing.