By Marisa Alexander / July 27th, 2017
I have an extreme love for the dungeon-crawling sub-genre. There is just something about the simple joy of walking around a dangerous area filled with traps and monsters that want to bite into your skull that I’m smitten with. This goes from the early days with Wizardry, to Dungeons & Dragons: Eye of the Beholder and Lands of Lore to my favorite RPG series Etrian Odyssey. In fact, Wizardry was so popular that the lead creator of the Dragon Quest series often cites it as a main influence for his work. Yet, there are some indie games that do harken back to those days such as Legend of Grimrock. Castle Torgeath: Descent into Darkness aims to reinvigorate the old days once more as well. Does it do it well?
In the castle of Torgeath, nations attacked a king that aimed to have his country, Devinstart, be the most prosperous nation on the continent. These events has since passed and faded into obscurity. However your best friend and mentor, the archmage, has sent a letter asking for your aid. You now must fight and strategize to succeed in the challenges put forth to you. In the game proper, unlike back then, you are free to move around instead of moving on a grid. You first start with a sword and a fireball spell. From then on, you need to gather food and other supplies to survive.
From pure concept alone, all of this seems fine. However the execution is the issue. You gather so much food on one floor alone that it will last you for about three floors and your hunger meter goes down very slowly to the point that it’s no issue. Then, melee combat is very finicky. There is no way to gauge where your weapon will collide with the enemy due to improper depth perception. Yet at the same time, enemies are easy to kill with melee weapons as you can simply walk backwards and continually strike until they die. If they can’t die from melee attacks, just spam the fireball spell until they burn to a crisp. However, the fireball is also finicky since enemy hitboxes are programmed awkwardly. There were countless times that the fireball literally went through the enemy.
Enemies do give experience, however levels don’t truly advance your character all that much. It seems to only be a difference of one less attack needed to kill an enemy or you can take two or more hits after around ten levels. Otherwise, nothing really changes. At times, it’s simply better to ignore entire parts of the castle if only to not waste time. You gain plenty of supplies regardless and experience hardly means anything.
As for presentation, the game is rather weak in this regard. Dungeoneering Studios had the idea of realism as the main artstyle, yet without the proper budget, the game looks incredibly dated. Music is also extremely repetitive and not at all enjoyable. If anything, the sudden blast of the combat music kept startling me.
There are also a myriad of technical issues that hamper the game significantly. First, there are two key-binding issues. You can attempt to try and play the game with a controller. Don’t try, as it will simply cause your character to look up and continually spin around like an absolute idiot. The other is simply trying to readjust the controls. If you adjust the left and right movement keys, the game will proceed onto another menu removing all of your options. As such, I had to play the game with the default control scheme and it was physically painful. After a mere hour, my hands were cramped, my back was strained, and overall I experienced much discomfort while playing.
The next technical issue actually prevented me from completing the game. First time around the library, I was able to approach from the north and leave from the south. After exploring the library, once I tried to leave the doors shut and found they couldn’t be opened. I tried to fix this by restarting the floor but once I approached from the north, I couldn’t leave from the south nor enter the library proper. Ultimately, my session was halted entirely because of this. Having asked on Steam, apparently this is a loading issue. For some doors, the game is actually loading the area and only usually takes a few seconds. However, the game wouldn’t load the area even after a few minutes.
Sadly, I had a miserable time with Castle Torgeath. There was simply too many issues that folded into each other. This isn’t even factoring the technical issues this game suffers. Despite the beta session, the game feels extremely rushed and seemed to have a lack of proper direction. To give Dungeoneering Studios the benefit of the doubt, maybe with another go they could very well succeed.
ARPGBlack Shell MediaCastle Torgeath: Descent into DarknessDungeon CrawlerDungeoneering StudiosSteam