Let me begin by saying that this game oozes vintage, retro gaming goodness! From the opening DOS bootup…
…to the limited, yet engaging color scheme, this game immediately takes you back to your childhood, or gives you a glimpse into what gaming used to be, in its best possible recreation. Don’t let the [REMASTERED] title fool you. This game was originally released in 2019, but pays homage quite well to the computer gaming of the late 1980’s/early 1990’s.
At its core, this is a side-scrolling adventure game, reminiscent of Another World or Flashback. As such, you control a pixelated character as he or she crosses barren wastelands, defending yourself against monsters and soldiers, disarming traps, and just surviving. The cyan/magenta graphics are true to the late-80’s, but combined with more contemporary soundtrack and sound effects, it makes for a truly unique experience. The soundtrack is AMAZING! It is dark, creepy and atmospheric, and can be purchased here: https://kiiro.bandcamp.com/album/the-eternal-castle-original-soundtrack. The text is genuinely difficult to read at points, which is either going to be a turn-off for you, or a feature that helps drive home the “age” of this game.
Even with a short tutorial at the beginning of the game, the controls take some getting used to. There are some things that are not explained well, such as how to climb down ledges, which can become a source of frustration. Also, there is a slight delay in the timing of your jumps and attacks, but this is a common characteristic of games of this era and genre, and I believe this was an intentional choice to make the game feel authentic. Again, I think most people will acclimate to the controls without too much difficulty.
For me, story is always one of the biggest selling points of any game. The Eternal Castle’s story is vague, but like many of the games of this genre and vintage, you are continuously moving forward toward your final destination. The gameplay is a mixture of puzzles, platforming and combat as you move through each screen. These kind of games are fantastic when done well, as you never really know what’s around the corner. Each area works independently, while fitting well into the overall theme.
Combat in this game is fun, rewarding, and challenging. I found myself entering every room, and just scanning the surroundings, any creatures, anything moving, and just trying to guess what might try to kill me. Every time I would come across another creature, I’d ask myself, “Is this going to help me, or try to kill me?” You will come across roughly ten different weapons throughout your adventure, and they are always a welcome find, as melee combat can be tricky. Using all of your abilities will help tremendously, as you’ll find yourself rolling to dodge attacks, using your environment as cover, and learning from the many times you will die along the way.
The Eternal Castle [REMASTERED] is a fantastic game! It is challenging and rewarding, frustrating and humbling. It is not a remake, but a commendation to what gaming used to be. Keep an eye out for future games from TFL Studios. If this is an indication of the quality of their work, you’re going to see some more gems from them to come. For more information, please visit https://www.facebook.com/theeternalcastle/, or go to the Nintendo eShop: https://www.nintendo.com/games/detail/the-eternal-castle-remastered-switch/
The Eternal Castle [REMASTERED] was reviewed using a digital code supplied by TFL Studios.