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Mischief, troublemaking, and other means of silly, evil antics have made their way to consoles this week with Darkestville Castle. Developers Epic Llama (along with the assistance of Buka Entertainment) initially launched their humor focused ‘point and click’ adventure title on Steam in 2017, and was moderately successful during its initial release. I was fortunate enough to get an early look at the Xbox One port of this console newcomer, and check out all of its shenanigans first hand.
The land of Darkestville was surely a quiet and peaceful place at one time, but not during the timeline of this comedic tale. After a mysterious object crashes into the village, local townsfolk discover a new addition to their community has arrived; a pale skinned, snarky individual by the name of Cid, who thrives on nothing short of causing chaos to those around him. Whether its terrorizing school children, or meddling with food, this trouble making demon always seems to have some devious plan up his sleeve. Neighbor and rival, Dan Teapot, decides to take a stance against Cid’s mischievous ways once again; this time by hiring world renown demon bounty hunters, The Romero Brothers, to deal with the prankster once and for all. Matters take a turn for the worse when Cid’s pet fish is kidnapped instead of him, and things don’t go quite as planned during the retrieval of his oversized scaly friend.
The one thing that really stood out for me from the start, was the art direction. I’m a sucker for bright and colorful animating and Darkestville does a splendid job delivering that with its cartoon design. Each area was well detailed, and felt very inspired by the 3rd Monkey Island installment, or Day Of The Tentacle. The castle, village, even the gates of Hell; all stood out from each other and offered an acceptable amount of exploration.
While the story seems like it has a serious tone to it, it presents the total opposite. The game is fueled on funny, ridiculous situations and had me laughing quite a bit during my playthrough. Cid may be a nuisance, but he is loaded with witty one liners and clever jokes. Equipped with an unforgettable grin and plenty of quick comebacks; the spotlight never really strays from this jester of a protagonist, and I was ok with this. Other characters did provide some chuckles during my playthrough, but I didn’t find myself connecting with them as much as I had with Cid. Nonetheless, this story does exactly what the writers had intended; make the player laugh.
As a point and click focused experience, the controls were basic, smooth, and accessible. The trigger buttons allow players to quick swap through any items found along the way, and small hub is present for any means of interacting for both objects and NPC’s. I know I’ve played other titles of the genre on console, where the item management felt janky and awkward. Not the case here; simplicity proved to be the best route. The game runs on an auto-save feature as well, so players never have to worry about forgetting to lose any progress during the adventure.
Item hunting, exploring, and a fair amount of dialogue make up the gameplay aspect, which is not really a surprise for a title of this genre. Items were never really difficult to find, but where to use them could be a tedious process. Subtle hints are sometimes dropped to players if they are paying full attention to the conversations between characters, but these were far and few between. I spent a lot of time backtracking between area’s; sticking with the ‘trial and error’ formula on almost every interactive object until I was successful. I also had my share of ‘duh’ moments after completing a puzzle, realizing I had spent way too much time overthinking solutions. Overall, I found the majority of the problem solving unbalanced, but far from impossible.
Darkestville Castle doesn’t deliver anything new to this classic genre, nor does it need to. A fun, well written, over the top and ridiculous story, fronted by one of the more memorable protagonists I have played in some time. Cid’s charm and sharp witted attitude balance out the at times tiring puzzles and item utilization, making this a rather enjoyable adventure from beginning to end. Surely, fans of ‘point and clicks’ will accept this newer addition to consoles into their game libraries, as well as newcomers looking to have a good laugh for a few hours.
Final Score : 7
Fun Factor : 7.5
Technical Prowess : 6.5
Time Investment : 7-8 hours
Replayability : 6.5