Creepy Castle is an exploratory, scrolling action RPG from indie developer Dopterra (from a successful Kickstarter campaign) clearly designed to appeal to fans of retro-style 8-bit platformers. The nostalgic art style, cheeky humor, and few genuinely charming surprises wrapped up in this mini-RPG sufficed to present me with a spin on a genre that’s over-represented in the indie scene. I had to search out the differences between this and a myriad of other side-scrollers to see if it was worth my (and your) time, but it turns out discovering those hidden gems was a treat.
Creepy Castle stars an adventurous little moth conveniently named ‘Moth’ who’s been sent to investigate an ancient castle. The keeper of this rotting fortress is rumored to be involved in a conspiracy; deep within the castle they’re constructing a device rumored to jumpstart the next cycle of evolution that could change the course of the world. No pressure, especially for a little moth.
OK, so Creepy Castle doesn’t have the most original storyline, but it’s able to stand out from the crowd in its own way. Where it shines is during its gameplay, which pleasantly surprised me in its simple yet intuitive design. The tutorial is presented in the form of signs the player can either read or skip if they choose. I appreciated the tutorial being optional rather than a chore to complete since it’s a nice touch not many games will often offer to the player.
The battle system is intuitive and gives players several options on how they wish to play. Moth has the option of either running up and ‘punching’ through their enemies to defeat them or waiting for a ‘duel’ to commence. Duels require skill, timing, and fast reflexes in order to complete with a greater award if successful as players have to wait a few seconds for a duel to be initiated and for an onscreen prompt to hit a button in order to attack. Win the duel and the health of the enemy is reduced significantly, but lose and Moth takes large amount of damage.
There’s even a neat little note and log system found throughout the castle on bookshelves. These notes will either contain helpful hints to help Moth survive his ordeal or logs left behind by past inhabitants. I spent a few minutes searching them out and was highly amused reading about an inhabitant of the castle complaining about a waterfall somehow in his room. Each of these logs feels like they were written by a variety of people each presenting their unique outlook at life inside the creepy castle.
The only area lacking are probably the graphics. While I do appreciate the style presented here, there’s a severe lack of color. The only noticeable colors present were red, black, and a hideous shade of yellow. I did see a hint of blue now and again with a splash of water, but even this felt washed out.
Considering Creepy Castle has an adorable and charming design, why isn’t it more colorful? The game stars a moth, for goodness sake. I’m not asking for drop gorgeous graphics, but it would’ve been nice to have castle walls that were more than gray. Perhaps adding a wider color palette to the enemies (instead of making them all the same shade of yellow) would’ve made this otherwise charming adventure a little more distinctive.
Despite the severe lack of color, the enemies do show plenty of variety. Creepy Castle presents a retro-style RPG, so every creature is blocky in design. I enjoyed coming across snakes and evil jellyfish creatures to challenge to a duel to the death, more often theirs. While they didn’t have a whole lot of detail each enemy was distinctive which made it easy to identify their dangers ahead of time.
Ultimately, Creepy Castle does indeed get my full support as it’s just different from the glut of similar side-scrollers to stand out. The humor is cheeky, the level design is well thought out, and on the whole presents a good challenge. Plus, again, the hero is a moth named Moth. Fans of this genre should enjoy their experience with Moth and his quest inside a largely colorless castle.