Indie Quickie: Lost Castle

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What is it and who made it? A fantasy action RPG roguelike from Another Indie, X.D. Network, and Hunter Studio.

What platforms is it on and how much does it cost? Lost Castle launches out of Early Access on Steam today for $9.99, with a 21% discount until September 7th.

How much did we play? Attempted seven runs in two and a half hours. The first four or five runs were basically grinding and learning the ropes. My best run so far has been an hour and ten minutes. I killed 474 monsters, looted 436 gold, harvested 358 souls, inflicted 87,494 points of damage, received 5,145 damage in return, and made it to the final area before meeting an untimely demise. Across all runs, I’ve been able to defeat 6 of the 21 different bosses. My overall player level is up to 19.

Any technical concerns, hardware requirements, or other details you should know about? I encountered one weird moment where I opened a treasure chest and for some reason the controls locked and my character just started spazzing out, moving and attack on his own without any input from me. This lasted for maybe 10 seconds before I was able to regain control. Not sure what that was all about. Other than that little hiccup, everything’s been groovy. As far as co-op goes, online support is still in the works, but currently cooperative play is limited to local only.

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Why should you play it?

    • Rogue Crashers: Though not quite of the same caliber, Lost Castle largely feels like a cross between Castle Crashers and Rogue Legacy thanks to its mix of side-scroll beat-’em-up fantasy combat and randomized roguelike progression. Every adventure into the demon infested Castle Harwood begins with a randomized treasure hunter, equipped with a random starting weapon, who you proceed to take on a randomly generated crawl across a series of five environment themes, each ending with a random boss battle. The controls are easy to grasp: on an Xbox controller the X button does a standard attack, Y performs a special ability, RT activates the current weapon skill, A jumps, and LT uses inventory items. Combat largely amounts to button mashing, though one of the great things about the game is the way each type of weapon has a distinct attack feel in addition to unique skill attacks and special abilities. Using a bow and arrow or musket definitely requires a different play style approach versus sword and boarding or rocking a large two-handed weapon. Somewhat akin to Dark Souls, it does take a little practice to adjust to each weapon type, and every player will undoubtedly develop a personal favorite (for instance I’ve been more comfortable using ranged weapons so far). Armor comes in three different types as well–light, normal, and heavy–impacting movement speed along with providing different stat bonuses when paired with certain types of weapons. The RPG elements are surprisingly robust.

    • Soul Hunter: Lost Castle is a true roguelike, at least in terms of having permadeath. Whenever you lose one treasure hunter, all loot, stats, and world progression are lost, and the next run begins anew with a totally different hero. However, persistent character progression that carries over to all subsequent heroes is provided in the form of a skill tree. At the end of each run, any souls collected from defeated enemies can be used as a currency to unlock stat and ability perks as well as helper NPCs, including a blacksmith, thief, and pharmacist, who appear at the beginning of each game to provide extra gear choices to get you off to a quicker start. Each skill tree purchase equates to increasing the global player level by one, and also raises the soul value for all other perks. Sadly, if you have souls but they aren’t enough to afford a skill, those souls must be sacrificed to the Lord of Souls and Death, to be lost forever.

    • Compendium Collector: Loot plays a large role in the game, with treasure chest rewards for fully clearling each room, plus plenty of breakable barrels and other receptacles to bust open for coins and health pickups. In addition to all of the weapons and armor, you’ll loot various inventory items, like bombs, throwing daggers, and boomerangs, as well as treasure items with passive stat boosts and other traits such as health regeneration on each kill, elemental attack augmentations, damage reflection, and auto-resurrection upon death. There are even little AI familiars that tag along and fire projectiles at enemy critters. Watch out for the mystery potions, too, because you never know what the effects will be until after quaffing one down. Every sip is a gamble, as a potion may help out with a heal over time or by temporarily turning the hero into a powerful werewolf, or it may inflict poison, send the hero into a farting fit, or cause blindness, turning the surrounding environment pitch dark for a short time. All of these items, along with the monsters and bosses, are tracked in a massive compendium menu, which adds a fun collectible element to discovering the vast array of loot. The only thing the compendium doesn’t record is actual player stats as far as total number of deaths, global play time, best/worst treasure hunter, and stuff of that ilk that’s fun to keep track of in a roguelike.

Parting Thoughts: One area that could use improvement is the random level generation, because the maps really aren’t procedural, but rather more like premade room modules that simply get stitched together in a different order each time you play. Every run is unique to a certain extent, but there is a sameness that sets in rather quickly, particularly with the first goblin tower zone since that’s the one you start on every time. The game may also be a little too slow-paced and grindy for players in the mood for an experience with greater immediacy and urgency, as the character movement speed is rather plodding, and early attempts are largely spent going through the motions to farm souls and begin developing the skill tree until you’re better equipped to make a legitimate run towards defeating the evil tyrant ruling over the castle. Overall, though, Lost Castle is a solidly crafted roguelike action RPG that puts forth a stiff but fair level of difficulty, and offers a nice variety of monsters and boss baddies as well as a wealth of sweet, sweet loot to collect. If you’ve enjoyed games like Rogue Legacy, The Binding of Isaac, Castle Crashers, or A Wizard’s Lizard, you’ll feel right at home dungeon diving in Lost Castle.

What is Indie Quickie? It takes a lot longer to fully review a game than it does to get a good sense of what a game is. Even with a full-time staff of writers it would be impossible to fully review the thousands of games that are released every year. Indie Quickie is our way to offer snap impressions of the countless indie titles small teams and one-man game studios are releasing literally every single day, and to help guide players to worthwhile games they may not have heard about before.

Disclosure: A Steam code for Lost Castle was provided to VGBlogger.com by the game’s publisher.

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!