Review – Castle of Heart

You expect a bit of creativity and decent level design from an indie game. In an era full of by-the-books games released by bigger companies, you expect independent titles to fill in the creativity void, but there’s always a black sheep that shows up every now and then featuring extremely generic design, subpar controls, and no enjoyment to be had whatsoever. That’s the case with Castle of Heart, a so-called Switch exclusive released a few days ago. This is not exactly a bad game by any means, but it’s easily one of the least exciting I’ve played in a while.

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The combat is really robotic. Weird, considering it’s a medieval game…

The premise is simple: you’re a knight, a sorcerer cursed you and turned you into stone, and he also kidnapped your damsel. You can guess what your objectives are. Travel through a handful of generic medieval landscapes, fight some enemies, grab some crystals, and die a lot due to bad level design and controls until the game tells you to stop doing so. If that sounds generic to you, it is because the game is very generic. You’ve already seen this premise, setting and gameplay, especially if you grew up in the 80s and 90s, with games like Ghosts n’ Goblins, ActRaiser, Castlevania, and many others.

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Relive your worst Ghosts n’ Goblins memories with these awful platforming sections

Visually speaking, there’s absolutely nothing impressive about the game. When I first heard about it, I was actually surprised by its few initial press pictures, but the game doesn’t look great when you’re actually playing it. The best description I could find about Castle of Heart‘s graphics is that the game looks like a shovelware Gamecube title with the performance and framerate of a mobile title trying to pull out polygonal visuals. Animations are stiff, slowdowns are frequent, characters are small and blend in with the backgrounds way too often. The sound department isn’t anything spectacular, either.

The worst element about this game, without a doubt, is its gameplay. Its controls are stiff. The input lag is excruciating. Everything is slow and unresponsive. As you can imagine, that makes the entire experience devoid of fun. Some might find enjoyment in the unintentional amount of challenge the game presents, but the overall product is just boring and uninspired.

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Poorly designed autoscrolling levels! Gotta love ’em!

I’m not able to recommend Castle of Heart. It doesn’t look good, it features subpar gameplay with input lag issues, as well as really disappointing level design. It feels more like a mobile title that got ported at the last minute to the Switch than a full-fledged exclusive the console needs right now. There are tons of other side-scrollers for the Switch right now, so just grab them instead of this one. If I want to play a medieval side scroller with clunky controls, I’d just rather play an old school round of Ghosts n’ Goblins instead.

Graphics: 5.0

The game looks like a subpar Gamecube title, and performs like a subpar mobile title.

Gameplay: 3.5

The standard gameplay from any other platformer with a few combat additions. The input lag is saddening.

Sound: 6.0

While the soundtrack isn’t bad (it’s actually decent), none of its tunes will stay in your head after you turn off the game.

Fun Factor: 4.5

There’s nothing offensively bad or amazing in this game. It’s just a very forgettable side-scroller that you’ve played a million times before.

Final Verdict: 4.5
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