The Eternal Castle [REMASTERED] (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Athanasios 15.09.2020

Review for The Eternal Castle [REMASTERED] on Nintendo Switch

As someone who has played his fair share of the so-called cinematic platformers, this critic initially scratched his head upon seeing the game at hand, because, while it is supposed to be a remaster of an old-school classic, yours truly had a hard time remembering the original. Well, it turns out that there never was an original in the first place. This was just a pretty neat marketing ploy to add a little bit of mystery to The Eternal Classic [REMASTERED], which is something that, despite its -awesome - 2-bit CGA graphics, is obviously something that was made today, and is meant to be a trip to the past; a trip to that distant era of Prince of Persia and Another World, but with a bunch of modern elements, much better sound quality, and so on.

The Eternal Castle's most obvious trait - the early DOS, cyan, magenta, black and white, 2-bit visual style - is awesome. No, without any speck of exaggeration, that makes this journey a deeply atmospheric one. Everything is pixelated as hell, and it's hard to make out what some things actually are, but the animation is fantastic, and each location has excellent design, as well as a pretty strong aura, whether that's the ruins of a metropolis, or a cemetery during pitch-black nightfall. The unique aesthetic forces the player to focus at every single small detail, as if trying to experience the whole thing through a CCTV system that's highly damaged. From a practical point of view, however, this isn't necessarily a good thing.

Screenshot for The Eternal Castle [REMASTERED] on Nintendo Switch

Beautiful as this is, in reality the graphics actually decrease the enjoyment. Apart from being straining for the eyes, the purposely hard-to-read, low detail environment makes searching around for important spots more aggravating than exciting, especially in locations that are darker than usual. Sadly, once you get past the coolness of it all (which is hard, because, this is indeed very cool), it's easy to realize that the developer focused way too much on the visual aspect, and forgot all the things that make a video game entertaining. This is, beyond any doubt, the epitome of style over substance.

The troubles begin… well, at the beginning, where a wall of almost unreadable text explains what's going on. Again, it looks awesome, in that dirty, post-apocalyptic sci-fi style this is going for, but it's not fun. A few added myopia levels next, and the adventure begins. It turns out that this is basically a rescue mission on a ruined, polluted, and full of terrorists version of Earth; an adventure than can be done either with a male character or a female one, but no matter who is chosen, gameplay-wise nothing will change. What kind of game is this? Exactly what you would expect from something inspired by Another World; a slow-paced platformer, with realistic movement, but with a bit more action involved.

Screenshot for The Eternal Castle [REMASTERED] on Nintendo Switch

After the first, tutorial-esque level, the protagonist must complete three stages (in any order), before entering the eponymous castle. This will be a tough ordeal, with the first reason again being the era and genre this pays homage to. Sadly, the rest of the challenge doesn't emerge from good game design. Besides the aforementioned "readability" of it all, the controls are a bit too clunky and unresponsive, even more so than what is accepted in the realm of cinematic platformers. Not only that, but the control scheme, which, this being an "old-school" title, should be easy as hell, is needlessly convoluted, leading to lots of unintentional mistakes, usually in the heat of the moment, like during a chase or gunfight.

Screenshot for The Eternal Castle [REMASTERED] on Nintendo Switch

One can learn to accept all that. The main issue with The Eternal Castle, though, is its trial-and-error nature, which is even worse by the already… err, trial-and-error-y Another World. This simply lacks the finesse of a game like Prince of Persia, Blackthorne, and Oddworld Oddyssey; titles that could occasionally irritate, but in the end, the blame would usually fall on the one holding the controller, first because of their much, much better controls, but also because these would all give you the opportunity to think before acting, whereas in here this is mostly about learning from failure.

Sure, the developer(s) is obviously a competent one, and this, despite its hype-centric marketing, is not a quick cash-grab, but a product of hard work - yet that doesn't excuse its many issues. Yes, there are plenty of checkpoints to help you out with overcoming the difficulty, everything looks great, and the game world is interesting enough that many will actually keep on playing just to discover what's next - but this just isn't fun. In the end, maybe this shouldn't try to capture Another World's charm, which, time to face it, has not exactly stood the test of time. The Eternal Castle should be something better.

Screenshot for The Eternal Castle [REMASTERED] on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

4/10
Rated 4 out of 10

Subpar

Watch a video of someone playing The Eternal Castle [REMASTERED], and you'll love it. The faux-retro, 2-bit colour palette has been used to paint a dark, grungy, and deeply atmospheric post-apocalyptic Earth, whose style will surely be appreciated by - very - old-school PC gamers. A great art style can never replace great game design, however. The visuals make it hard to understand what's going on, leading to even more trial-and-error that's already needed, not to mentions that the controls are a bit of a mess. There are things to like here, but the ride isn't usually that exciting.

Developer

Daniele Vicinanzo

Publisher

TFL Studios

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  4/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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