The Eternal Castle [REMASTERED]
Gameplay 7
Graphics 7
Sound 9

The Eternal Castle [Remastered] definitely looks the part of a game from an era where CGA visuals were the norm, but don’t be fooled into thinking that it is a dusty retro title. Instead, it is a fast paced and challenging adventure that makes use of the limited color palette in ways that real games from that era could only dream of. The animations are also top notch and so is the soundtrack, but the controls can be very challenging if you are not used to this type of game. Overall, it’s a great game if you remember early PC platformers with fondness, but modern players will also enjoy it if they can learn to appreciate the visual style.

Gameplay: Although short, the game is a lot of fun despite some occasionally frustrating bits.

Graphics: The art style looks very primitive in screenshots, but has to be seen in action to truly appreciate the detail and animations.

Sound: The synth soundtrack is incredible

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The Eternal Castle [REMASTERED]

Developer: Leonard Menchiari, Daniele Vicinanzo, Giulio Perrone | Publisher: Playsaurus | Release Date: 2019 | Genre: Action / Adventure / Indie | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam / itch.io

Anyone who grew up playing games during the eighties will remember that it was a time when you never knew what to expect when you booted up a new title. Even the magazines of that time couldn’t cover every single release, so every now and then you would end up with something really obscure. Eternal Castle [Remastered] has intentionally been designed to feel like a game from that era, with its CGA visuals, cryptic storyline and old school gameplay. Of course, nowadays services like GOG has made it easier to play old and obscure games on modern hardware in order to relive those memories. Unfortunately, more often than not, doing so reveals that they are from an era when people had way more patience and commitment. This is where Eternal Castle excels as it offers the same type of nostalgic platformer experience, but with a lot less of the frustration.

When we started Eternal Castle [Remastered] (ECR from here on out) for the first time, it certainly felt like something that we might have played during the eighties. This is because the developers have combined an assortment of elements from popular early platformers. Players who fondly remember titles like Prince of Persia, Flashback and Another World in particular will instantly recognize the inspiration for ECR. While console platformers starred cute critters who could reverse direction instantly and bounce on the heads of their enemies, computer players were treated to more realistic titles where your character had weight and momentum. They were usually also not afraid to pull out a gun or sword to dispose of enemies and death was often as gruesome as it was sudden, thanks to all manner of nasty traps. ECR is a tribute to this era of gaming, but it is done in such a manner that modern gamers won’t be completely alienated.

As we mentioned earlier the back-story for ECR is a little cryptic, but involves your character returning to what remains of the Earth in search of someone who never returned from a scavenging mission. It would seem that Earth has become such a hostile place that a self sufficient ecosystem was established in space for people fleeing the planet, but trips back to the planet were still required for resources. Years of pollution, climate change and radioactive warfare has taken its toll on the planet, so what is left of humanity isn’t exactly welcoming. This means that your solo rescue attempt might just be a suicide mission, but this doesn’t deter your character from going through with it anyway. Things get off to a rocky start when your ship is promptly shot at when you enter the atmosphere, leaving you stranded and in search of the four gliders needed to make repairs. As expected, these glider pieces have fallen into the hand of some very powerful bosses and they are not exactly eager to part with their new prizes.

The most striking thing about ECR is obviously the visuals, although they really have to be seen in action to fully appreciate them. It is not the first indie game to turn to the past for inspiration when it comes to graphics, but very few others have ventured as far back as the era of the Color Graphics Adapter. With their 16 kilobytes of video memory and whopping 16 color hardware palette, these adapters were about as limited as you could get. To make matters worse, they could only display four colors at a time, so most games opted for a combination of cyan, magenta, black and white. ECR has fully embraced these color limitations, although it has packed each scene with so much detail that it would have brought the original hardware of that era to a grinding halt. Thanks to the very limited amount of colors, it can sometimes be very tricky to see exactly what is happening in the game, but overall it’s amazing to see what the developers managed to pull off with the art style. The words “cinematic” and CGA definitely do not appear in the same sentence very often, but ECR pulls it off with ease.

Part of the reason why the art style works so well is the animations, which is something that cannot be conveyed with static screenshots. Early CGA games were not exactly known for the quality of their animations or smooth scrolling, but ECR has no such issues. It’s not just your character and enemies that are very animated either, but also environmental effects like rain. Of course, with such a limited color palette you are still going to run into issues, such as struggling to read the text or not being able to always spot traps in time. The latter is usually not a big deal because the game features plenty of checkpoints during your first playthrough, but the second playthrough is a lot less forgiving.

In terms of gameplay ECR feels a lot like Another World, except the alien world that you are exploring is actually a desolate version of our own. Platforming plays an important role in the game, but you will also have to solve some puzzles and take down foes who are not thrilled by your intrusion. Combat in ECR is very fast paced with fights that are quick and brutal, depending on the weapons you are wielding. There are ten of them on offer, ranging from axes and swords to maces, hammers and guns, but you can only carry two of them at a time. Guns may seem like the obvious choice, but ammunition is scarce, so a melee weapon is often better in the long run. You’ll have to watch out, though, as your character has a stamina bar and swinging away recklessly will quickly deplete it. Like any good platformer, ECR has a couple of memorable bosses that stand in your way. Most of them can easily crush you in a hit or two, so care must be taken when facing them, especially during your second playthrough where death is permanent. Even normal enemies are not always a walk in the park and you can be punished if you act too rashly. Early in the game you encounter a foe who doesn’t shoot first, but refuses to let you pass. If you try and engage him in a gunfight you’ll quickly discover that you are no match, but a quick scan of the environment will reveal a very efficient solution to your problem. Some other puzzles are also scattered throughout the game and even the battle with the final boss incorporates puzzle elements.

ECR is a fairly short game and half the fun is exploring each new location, so we don’t want to spoil any surprises. Suffice to say that each location is very different from the last and you can choose where to go next after completing a level. If the smooth animations wasn’t enough to convince you that ECR is not an old game, then the soundtrack definitely will. The soundtrack is full of brilliant synth tunes that complement the action nicely and fit the style of the game perfectly. The sound effects on the other hand sound a little harsh on the ears at times, but still matches the visual style.

One aspect of ECR that might give modern players some trouble is the controls, which can feel a lot looser than what many players are used to. Those who have played the original Prince of Persia and Out of This World will be familiar with the momentum based movement of your character, but everyone else may take some time to acclimatize. Your character is not only surprisingly nimble, but have quite a few tricks up their sleeve as well. In addition to running and jumping, you can also make them roll, block, and perform different types of melee attacks. Unfortunately, none of these are conveyed very clearly in the game, which means a lot of players could end up not even knowing there is a block button or more than one type of attack.

One thing is for sure; The Eternal Castle [Remastered] is not the type of game that will appeal to everyone. Even fans of the genre who are more used to modern fare might turn up their noses at the CGA art style of the game. Hoever, to do so would mean missing out on a very unique title that actually has a lot to offer. It is a pity that ECR doesn’t have a demo available as it is a title that players will either love or hate. Personally, we really enjoyed the game and had a blast exploring its strange gameworld. It is definitely not without flaws, but its modest price tag means that even if you only play through it once, you’ll get value for your money. ECR does feature a couple of unique achievements that may tempt you into another playthrough to try some things a little differently. Of course, if you found the game too easy during your first playthrough, then the New Game+ will quickly cure you of that notion. Overall, it’s refreshing to see a platformer that tries out some new ideas as the genre is getting pretty crowded, but make sure you know what you are getting yourself into before putting down your cash.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows XP/Vista/7/8/8.1/10 x86/x64
  • Processor: Intel Pentium D 830 (2* 3000) or equivalent / AMD Athlon 64 4000+ (2600) or equivalent
  • Memory: 1 GB RAM
  • Graphics: CGA Graphics card or higher
  • Storage: 280 MB available space
  • Sound Card: PC speakers or higher
  • OS: Mac OS X 10.9 or later
  • Processor: Intel Pentium D 830 (2* 3000) or equivalent / AMD Athlon 64 4000+ (2600) or equivalent
  • Memory: 1 GB RAM
  • Graphics: CGA Graphics card or higher
  • Storage: 280 MB available space
  • Sound Card: PC speakers or higher

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