It’s always nice to see a familiar concept filtered through another culture’s lens, and the recently announced Hyakki Castle seems just what the doctor ordered for Legend of Grimrock fans wanting another fix of dungeon exploration, party-building and monster-mashing, and it’s less than a month away.
Coming from new Japanese outfit Asakusa Studios, Hyakki Castle is almost exactly what you’d imagine a Japanese Grimrock would look like. Familiar grid-based, real-time movement, party-based combat and your usual assortment of puzzles and traps refreshed through a new environment and a gallery of weird monsters, spirits and fiends to bother. Check out this trailer:
Everything shown of the game so far should be familiar to fans of the sub-genre spawned by Dungeon Master way back in the ’80s, only with an Edo-period Japanese setting replete with all the myth & legend implied. Your party will be assembled from a mixture of human Samurai and Ninja, but also Oni (Ogres), Tengu (Long-nosed raven-demons) and Nekomata (Cat-people) among others, and plenty of strange creatures picked from Japanese folklore. How many do you recognise above?
Moving in the opposite direction to last month’s similarly-styled Vaporum, rather than boil the action down to a single party member, Hyakki’s Castle allows your 4-member party to split up and attack from two directions at once, splitting your field of view. The hand-eye coordination in order to do this well is going to be extreme, but it should make for a fun challenge; Like patting your head and rubbing your tummy, but with swords, while being menaced by Japanese ghosts. I have a feeling this may lead to some fiercely complex puzzles as well.
As an aside, It’s always good to see Gashadokuro (the giant skeleton in the trailer) finding work. It’s been a little thin on the ground ever since the Castlevania series fell out of vogue. You’d be surprised at how little demand there is for ‘Skeleton, But Huge’ roles in games these days, even if he has been at it for hundreds of years.