The Eternal Castle Remastered Review – 2 Bits 2 Furious
Developed by Leonard Menchiari, Daniele Vicinazo, and Giulio Perrone
Published by Playsaurus
Available on PC, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch
With all the creepy pasta stories in video games, I find it shocking that there aren’t more games taking advantage of that. It feels like, at most, a creepy pasta may be vaguely alluded to in the material, but that’s about it. In comes The Eternal Castle Remastered, looking to buck this trend by making a remaster of a game that doesn’t exist. Is this enough to really make it stand out from the crowd?
The story of The Eternal Castle Remastered starts outside of the actual game. The way it goes is that, in 1987, the developer mysteriously found this really awesome rad game that they loved as a kid, but then accidentally broke it. Unable to play it anymore, they couldn’t find any information about the game no matter what they did. Years and years later and the idea for The Eternal Castle Remastered is born: remaster the game to the best of how he remembers it. There’s just one thing: that entire story I told you was fake. There was no original game. The developers put a lot of effort into making this seem like a “real” game, and I strongly suggest reading Polygon’s article researching it because the meta story is kind of cool.
As for the actual game plot, you play as Adam or Eve as they travel down to a mysterious planet to try and save their computer AI buddy. Unfortunately, they crash land short of their goal so they need to travel to three different territories so they can gather gliders to power up their ship and get to the titular Eternal Castle to save the AI. There isn’t really much more to it than that, on the surface anyway, but this is one of those games bursting with all sorts of secrets and other little things. If you like diving into lore, you’ll find plenty to like.
Since The Eternal Castle Remastered is supposed to be a remaster of a game from 1987, it has to both look and play the part. When it comes to visuals, it 100% has this down. Utilizing a very limited color pallet, the game manages to look exactly like the games from the time. Or, rather, it looks like how you remember the games from the time looking. This is especially helped with the animations, which don’t look too unlike something from one of the classic Prince of Persia games. If it’s a retro aesthetic you want, it’s captured perfectly.
The gameplay fits it as well. It’s tough to describe all the little things that have gone into making The Eternal Castle Remastered feel appropriately retro, but it’s a really impressive effort. For example: there’s a certain delay and weight to your jumps that used to be constant in games like Flashback, Prince of Persia, and Another World. It’s strange to get used to at first, especially since those not used to it may find such a system clunky. However, once you do, it’s a lot of fun figuring out how to time your movements. That’s not to say the game is devoid of modern systems as well. Combat feels a little like the Dark Souls series, with a stamina bar and emphasis on rolling to avoid enemy attacks.
You’ll use your skill to get through four unique areas, each of which are focused on a different element. The Unholy Lab has a focus on avoiding enemy encounters and solving puzzles, the Ancient Ruins are focused more on melee combat and fighting enemies, while the Forgotten City is mostly focused on ranged combat and gun fights. All of this leads to the titular Eternal Castle, which you can’t reach without collecting parts from each of the other areas. What awaits you there? Well, that’d be telling.
This variety of gameplay manages to make for a lot of fun moments. Every time I get worried that some section will outstay its welcome and I’ll be bored, it ends and I’m put in something new. From being turned into a monster to sneak around other monsters, to a foot chase against a sniper while a helicopter shoots at me, to a fistfight with a literal god, there’s always something new and exciting happening. Several of these moments had me on the edge of my seat, excited for what new challenge I would get.
However this comes with a small caveat: The Eternal Castle Remastered is hard. It’s not just that it’s a hard game, but it has a love for “got’cha!” moments that are clearly supposed to kill you and have you discover how to get by them on a second life. Checkpoints are plentiful and respawning is quick, so at least I was never too frustrated, but it doesn’t change the fact that dying because of some trap feels rather lame. Over the three hours it took me to beat the game, I had nearly 100 deaths.
In addition to this, the game also got a free expansion that it comes bundled with called Sacrafice. In it you play as a werewolf who’s on a quest to talk to God. Unlike the main game, Sacrafice is one massive level with no checkpoints, so if you die you have to start over. However, changes you make in the world will persist even if you die. Open a gate, and you have access to this shortcut even when coming back to life. It’s a neat bonus, and worth playing through at least once, though it is noticeably harder than the main game.
There’s a lot of content here that’s enjoyable, and if you’re looking to relive the classics then The Eternal Castle Remastered is a fantastic way to do so. When you combine it with the weird meta plot about its creation, and you have something that genuinely feels unique during a time where many games don’t.