The Castle is a strategy adventure
game, much in the same style as the popular Myst game. The story involves Naomi
and two other men trapped in a dreamlike world which centers around an engimatic
castle (complete with its own oracle, and contraptions which allow you to turn day
into night and night into day). As the player, your goal is to unravel the plot by
finding pieces of Naomi's diary, solving different puzzles, and finding secret passages.
In this adventure game, you travel through each scene by point and click actions.
Each scene is a still shot of the location you are facing. By moving the mouse,
the cursor turns into an arrow indicating what would happen if you clicked. A straight
arrow means you would go straight towards the object or place the cursor is over,
a left or right arrow means that you would turn in that direction, and an up or down
arrow means that you would go up or down, like climbing stairs.
I had some problems discerning what I could do, as sometimes clicking with the straight
arrow did not always achieve a movement. It would have been more clear if the cursor
turned into something else when clicking would result in no action. Likewise, sometimes
the turning was no consistent. For example, sometimes turning left would turn me
180 degrees around, while other times turning left would only turn 90 degrees to
the left. This inconsistency occurred even in the same location, for example when
facing the garden maze outside the castle.
The story unfolds as you collect different pieces of Naomi's diary, which I found
to be an interesting method of telling the story. The more you get into it, the
more anxious you become to locate more pieces of the story (both to learn more about
the story as well as picking up needed clues for some of the challenges).
The graphics were not quite up to snuff with Myst, but they were still pretty good.
There was good ambient sound, and some very interesting puzzles. One puzzle involved
entering numbers on a keypad in a sequence that resulted with a specific number.
As you explore the lock, you learn that each point in the star performs a specific
function, and once you know the functions, you can mathematically deduce the sequence
which would provide you the desired number. Some puzzles I found a bit too confusing,
requiring more than common sense to figure out. For example, to get the key to the
castle, you had to turn the day into night; not an intuitive conclusion. There are
hints about this in the diary pages, but there aren't enough diary pages outside
of the castle to get the needed information (i.e., it wasn't until I was inside the
castle before the diary clued me in). Fortunately, I was able to download the "HintBox"
application for this game which allowed me to gain clues when I became desparate.
The puzzle with the wine glasses is not intuitive either, but I'm still hoping to
locate some clues in the diary before reverting to the HintBox.
Certain objects can be approached which perform special functions. There are two
machines in the two towers that once you click on the machine, you get a close-up
view of the buttons. Your task is to figure out what to push. Likewise, certain
dressers and desks can be examined, and drawers and doors can be opened (some of
them requiring a key to unlock first). Then there's the oracle, but I don't want
to give too much away here.
As with all static scene driven games, movement is not fast nor lively, and sometimes
not so intuitive. For example, traveling through the maze I found it difficult to
sometimes figure out exactly which way I really ended up walking. Sometimes I just
clicked and clicked until I ended up somewhere new.
The Castle is a fun adventure game, with an
interesting story unfolding as you discover pieces of the diary. The puzzles will
keep your brain working. On the other hand, trying to navigate some areas, especially
when retracing paths you've already been, may lull you into boredom. The latter
is generally the nature of this genre of adventure game, slow and sticky. If you
are already used to games like Myst, you may not mind it at all. Whether you're
a Myst fan or not, this game has a nice and stable interface and some intriguing
content, definitely worth a look.
- Intriguing story and story revealing method
- Challenging puzzles
- Nice overall ambience
- Some puzzles too difficult without clues
- Navigation can be slow, sometimes repetitive
- Navigation sometimes inconsistent
3 1/2 out of 5 Mice