Gorgeous pixel art, fluid animations and fun, engaging gameplay define Forsaken Castle.
A metroidvania at heart, Forsaken Castle by Duck Block Games, manages to define itself in its own way, and offers a fresh take on the genre with a determined paladin named Lily who is looking to prove her strength to both herself and her order.
Sent to investigate the undead which have begun sprouting up near her village, Lily winds up at an abandoned castle with no way inside. She’s determined to get to the bottom of the source of this scourge, so she takes an alternate path, deep below the castle, in order to find a way in. With a whip in her hand and a quest in her heart, Lily sets off to discover more about the castle and its curse.
I got to play a demo of Forsaken Castle at PAX South, provided to me by Clint Trahan, the lead artist on the project. I had seen a bit of the game at last year’s PAX South, mostly as a bystander, as I watched my son try out the game. From what I saw this year, however, the game has improved both graphically and in terms of its gameplay.
The main draw to the game is certainly the female protagonist, Lily, and her many abilities, but the environments are a very close second. Traditional Castlevania games have room-like levels, with each holding a square-shaped representation on the map. Forsaken Castle follows a bit more of a Metroid-style means of handling design, with levels and areas feeling a bit more organic, or at least in the case of the first area of the game. I certainly felt like I was exploring the underground areas of Zebes in Super Metroid as I whipped the stuffing out of bats and undead alike.
Enemy designs in Forsaken Castle certainly lean more towards the medieval stylings of Castlevania, however; Skeletons with swords, floating magic skulls, slimes and full body armored knights are all looking to take a chunk out of Lily, and luckily you have some tricks up your sleeve. You can use your whip to take on these evil abominations, of course, but there are also additional weapons: an axe, which travels upwards — a direction you can’t whip; and a magic fireball that flies out of your hand — which passes through walls and objects. Both of these help you in your quest to rid the land of unholy beings. Other movement abilities, such as sliding and ledge-grabbing, bring more versatility to the platforming, and overall makes the game more fun.
I love the idea of all these SNES-era games coming out for modern consoles. My fondest memories as a kid were the wonder and exploration of 16-bit platformers that pushed the envelope in what was possible in an action adventure title. Now that the pixel art style is coming back strong, I honestly think Forsaken Castle might be the purest representation of this genre of game that helped define the industry. The music is more of a modern, orchestral take, but I feel it simply compliments this amazing looking indie title, and I can’t wait to both see and hear more of it.