Why do people play video games? To be as evil as possible right? Causing havoc, enabling addictions, cheating, and stealing. Those are the reasons we play.
What do you mean we do it to play the hero? I mean, I suppose historically games typically set the players in the shoes of the hero, saving the world and all that noise. But not in Darkestville Castle. In it, the player is put in control of Cid, the demon of Darkestville, who revels in enacting all kinds of nefariously evil deeds. Well, as nefariously evil as an ESRB rating of everyone ten and up allows.
Darkestville Castle is a modern-day ode to the point and click adventures of old, some of which I remember playing fondly when I was a wee lad visiting my grandmother’s house and playing on her big box of a computer. Freddi Fish, anyone? Of course, back then I was four and the concept of a hotdog giving someone hepatitis is something I wouldn’t ever come across in any of the games I played, much less comprehend. But not in Darkestville, which is an ode to absurdity in every sense of the word.
The game starts simple enough: Cid begins by checking his list of evil deeds to do and when he finally figures out his agenda for the day, he decides to make his way to the town. He is quickly thwarted though by Dan, the local demon hunter who definitely doesn’t look like he lives in his parents’ basement. His plan consists of blocking the front door while standing on an obvious trapdoor, assuming that there is positively no way to fix it with what’s lying around the castle. This may sound ridiculous but it’s even more unlikely that a massive castle has only one entrance and exit, aforementioned trapdoor excluded.
This kind of thought process shouldn’t be new to fans of the point and click genre, as it frequently pushes logic to the side in favor of out-of-the-box solutions for what would otherwise be mundane problems. This is why it’s possible to be tasked with figuring out what is equal in value to a pile of gold and have the only acceptable answer be a disease-ridden hotdog. Just as a completely random, non-specific hypothetical scenario.
So in sticking with the genre, Darkestville truly is a wacky game and it embraces this with open arms, as evident by its absurd in-game commentary, fourth wall meta jokes, and a good mix of dark humor. Not every joke will land but it’s all done in good fun and you can see that the creators of Darkestville put a lot into making the story enjoyable.
Complete the prologue and you’ll be treated to an adventure that involves outsmarting some demon hunters, dealing with actual demons, and briefly getting your castle stolen from you. There’s more to it than that but I’ll leave the rest as a mystery to keep you in suspense.
The gameplay itself is fairly straightforward and plays largely like you would expect a point and click to play. The biggest negatives are Darkestville’s reliance on the same type of puzzle, predominantly fetch quests, and the solutions to get some of the items are completely out there. But the flipside of that is that there is an incredible sense of accomplishment when the pieces of the puzzle start to come together.
There is a difficulty setting but the only other mode besides normal is “Cat Mode.” When activated, this makes it so all of the dialogue is replaced with meows. I don’t know why this was surprising and really what was I expecting, but at the same time I can’t help but ask, why?
Since Cat Mode won’t help solve any puzzles, all I can offer as a few good rules to follow: click on everything, talk to everyone, and actually read the dialogue boxes as they come up.
I was concerned about how well a point and click game would convert to console but it works surprisingly well. Scrolling across the screen is a tad slow but a mouse is always going to be more properly equipped for this style of game. The feature that I absolutely loved and really sold the experience is that when holding up on the d-pad, icons would appear on the screen to show all of the clickable elements. It makes navigating so much easier and even nets a few Gamerscore the first time you use it.
The plot itself is fun, however at some points it feels a little overbearing, some of the comedy seems a bit forced, and the voice acting sometimes falls a bit flat, but the pros outweigh the cons, especially when the retail price for the game is so affordable.
Game length is going to vary from person to person, depending on how fast you read, how well you’re able to piece together the puzzles, and how much of the world you decide to interact with, but it took me a few hours to get through and I feel like I found some of the solutions on a fluke. I also didn’t get the achievement for inspecting every single painting yet so if I was going for a 100 percent run then I’d probably just play through the entire game again.
All in all Darkestville Castle on Xbox One is a great game for fans of the genre and new arrivals. The art style is clean and fun, the story is wacky, and there is plenty of content to justify picking it up. If nonsensical puzzles and point and click games are your thing, you can’t go wrong with a copy of Darkestville Castle.