The Castle Game is an enjoyable, cordial, and charming single-player strategy tower defense game. No, it won’t wow you with any new mechanics or level design as it is as traditional as they come: protect your home base (the castle) from enemies by employing archers, stone walls, soldiers, spikes, exploding barrels, and other traps, allies, and weapons. But despite feeling overly familiar, developer Neptune Interactive’s downloadable title offers plenty of content for a reasonable price ($14.99), and it’s an absolute joy to play.
As mentioned, the gist of the game is to protect your castle from waves of enemies. It’s exactly like horde mode—survive a particular number of rounds and then advance to the next level. Enemies range from plain foot soldiers to minotaurs and witches, so there’s enough enemy variety here to keep things interesting throughout and maintain a sense of challenge. You must set up your defenses and attack accordingly, depending on what enemies you’ll face each round—which you can figure out by viewing small enemy symbols planted throughout the level.
Another way The Castle Game manages to avoid repetition is through how each level is configured, and the different obstacles and goals you have to achieve. For example, the first level simply has you protecting your castle, while the third level has you keeping enemies at bay while civilians try to make their way to the castle, and the fifth level pits you against the game’s first boss battle. While the core of the gameplay always stays the same (how much can you change, and tamper with in a tower defense title, really?), the ever-changing challenges and enemy forces are always satisfyingly peculiar. With every level completed, you earn gems that you can use to purchase permanent upgrades for all of your weapons. For archers, you can make them fire arrows faster, and deal more and more damage with every blow.
There’s different difficulty settings that significantly change the way you’ll play the game, as well as upgrades to purchase, and leaderboards to conquer. Plus, The Castle Game has a platinum trophy for you to earn as well. The game’s levels look visually distinct and eccentric, and this adds to the gameplay experience. Overall, the game looks quite pretty and the best comparison I can make with its visual style is that to a Saturday morning cartoon with vibrant and varied colour palettes, and quirky enemy designs. There isn’t much detail to anything; instead, the focus is on simple beauty.
Unfortunately, The Castle Game feels a bit too mechanically elementary. Yes, it’s very easy to grasp and pretty much anyone can dive in, but there’s not enough to master—it’s lacking any serious depth, which sadly relegates The Castle Game to being just a fun little downloadable title you’ll forget you played within a week. It lacks scope. Given the price tag and the size of the developer that’s understandable, but it’s still something that’s worth noting. In the end, I enjoyed my 10 hours or so with The Castle Game. It’s a solid, visually charming, and enjoyable little game to play.