The Eternal Castle [Remastered]
Developer: Leonard Menchiari, Daniele Vicinanzo, Giulio Perrone
Publisher: SEVERED PRESS PTY LTD
Genre(s): Unique, Platformer, Adventure
Platform: PS4 (also available on PC and Switch)
Age Rating: PEGI 16
Release Date: 19/5/2021
A code was provided for review purposes
The Eternal Castle [Remastered] is a mysterious cinematic platformer. The main character needs to find parts to repair their ship. In doing so, they will encounter ferocious beasts, find fascinating characters, and uncover the secrets of the world around them. Does The Eternal Castle [Remastered] stand the test of time? Find out in this Rapid Review.
A cinematic platformer implies that visuals place a heavy emphasis on the story. Surprisingly, I found this was not entirely the case. The story begins with a wall of text detailing the context of the game. Not only was it hard to read, but this failed to grasp my attention. The story was nothing especially interesting nor did it make me feel a connection with the character. Though it explains the basic premise, the introduction to the game failed to captivate me. After that initial wall of text, there is little dialogue to read. Non-playable characters occasionally converse with the main character, but this did not contribute much to the overall story. Instead, it developed the game world.
While the overarching story was suboptimal, the worldbuilding was interesting. I navigated my way through a post-apocalyptic society. Moreover, I encountered failed experiments, religious factions, and military camps all in the same day. I enjoyed many of these interesting sights. They gave background to the enemies I fought and made my journey feel purposeful. Even with these excellent additions, I frequently found myself getting lost in the story. I failed to understand why certain enemies attacked me when others did not. There were not many story clues to justify these encounters. Moreover, none of the world-building amounted to anything. Occasionally some of the world-building would show the backstory of certain enemies. These were interesting additions but more often the world-building was insignificant. Despite the developer effort to build an immersive story, I never got captivated by the world they made.
Even when the story is nothing spectacular, cohesive rewarding gameplay can justify the purchase of the game. Unfortunately, the Eternal Castle [Remastered] also failed to enthral me here. The objective of the game is to find the missing pieces to your spaceship and travel to the Eternal Castle. I could move around, jump, attack, and use weaponry to interact with the world around me. There are plenty of options for each encounter.
Unfortunately, where the action begins to falter is with the combat. I did not enjoy it very much. It did not feel precise, and I struggled to understand exactly what options I had. I endured many of my battles by mindlessly swinging until my stamina meter was low, walking out of enemy range while my stamina recovered, and repeating the process until the enemy died. Apart from a few intense fights, this worked surprisingly well. However, this was not fun. I believe I developed this strategy because the options I had were never detailed to me in a tutorial. For example, I am still not sure whether I can block enemy swings. Enemies often blocked attacks, but I could not find a block button on my controller. The confusion with my options did not stop there.
Simple techniques such as holding on to ledges from above and the dodge roll are never explained. Either you understand it, or you do not. My first experience in the game led me to the peak of a mountain. At the top of the mountain stood a man sitting at a table and a wall blocking my path. I attempted to jump off the mountain and return to ground level, where I had been before to do additional exploring. However, the impact of a fall from the height killed me every time. Instead of knowing I could descend the mountain the way I came up by “jumping downwards” on the platform, I restarted the entire level and tried again. I constantly encountered issues where it seemed as if the developers not telegraphing their intentions.
Most importantly, I could not figure out how to save. The first time I exited the title, my progress was deleted. I was surprised because I used the pause menu in the game to return to the menu after saving at a checkpoint and there was no message telling me that my progress would not be saved. Regardless, I did not mind too much because I was still early in the game. Once again, I attempted to save my game, but the progress was not saved. There is a possibility that the game only saves after key checkpoints such as obtaining glider parts but after my first two failed attempts, I played the entire game in one sitting. I wish elements of the game were better communicated, especially when the game was saving.
Steep Learning Curve
Once I began to understand the controls and options for my character, I enjoyed the title more. I enjoyed navigating the short screens and progressing to the next one. The level design for the most part was fun. I ran from spiked mines, transformed into a monster, and fought for my country. The levels each had their own themes and felt unique. The character movement was not my favourite, I could not adjust their jump in the air, and I needed to jump before the edge of a platform, but it served its purpose well. There were few issues related to the movement. Another feature I really enjoyed was the various weapons to experiment with. Enemies would drop all sorts of things from pistols to maces. Each felt unique and kept me engaged in the game further.
Even with all those weapons, it was challenging to determine which characters were violent and which were friendly. There were no colour differences, as all characters are shadowy and there were no indicators so when an enemy attacked, it seemed out of place, especially considering that there are passive non-playable characters. Another disappointing thing was how some enemies seemed like they should be more powerful than they were. For example, the player fights a massive golem on an elevator. I thought it would be a challenging battle. Unfortunately, all I had to do was stand in one spot, wait for the golem to attack, punch him a few times and proceed to my route. Compare this to a random old man atop the mountain who does nearly half your health bar in a single blow, and I was left disappointed and confused. I was continually confused by the lack of indicators.
Overall, while I was disappointed in many ways by a lack of information; both during gameplay and when saving, now that I better understand the game, I think that subsequent playthroughs would be more enjoyable. Once I began to understand the title, I enjoyed it more. I encountered minor puzzle elements later in the title that were rewarding and fun but the rigid movement and lack of indicators seen in the combat frustrated me. There are some excellent features in the gameplay but there are certainly some detrimental design features.
The atmospheric design was the main reason The Eternal Castle [Remastered] interested me. The visuals are stunning. Though as I mentioned earlier, even though some crucial indicators are missing, I really enjoyed the scenic backdrops, character designs, and colour choices. The sound design was not nearly as prominent. Sometimes the game would be silent which was not ideal but when the music was present, it was pretty good. It rarely stood out to me as special.
Overall, The Eternal Castle [Remastered] is a decent game severely hindered by the lack of accessibility. Though some of the puzzles and interactions were interesting, most of the title was burdened with confusion. Not only that, but I was able to complete this title in around three hours. At the current price point, I suggest waiting for a sale. Ultimately, there is a decent experience for someone who does not mind being thrown into the deep end.
Rapid Reviews Rating
3 out of 5
You can purchase The Eternal Castle [Remastered] on the Nintendo eShop here
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.