Title: The Eternal Castle: Remastered
Developer: Leonard Menchiari, Daniele Vicinanzo, Giulio Perrone
Release Date: May 15, 2020
Reviewed On: Switch
Genre: Cinematic Platformer
The cinematic platformer genre seems to be in a bit of resurgence lately. It feels like just yesterday that I was playing Ministry of Broadcast. However, developers Leonard Menchiari, Daniele Vicinanzo, and Giulio Perrone prove just how creative you can get the genre with their release The Eternal Castle: Remastered. Its approach to marketing itself is also impressive as it boasts that it is a remaster of a game from 1987, which doesn’t actually exist. However, it feels like it came right out of the era and looks great on Switch, outside of a few technical bugs.
The Eternal Castle Remastered is set in a time where humans had to evacuate Earth after a series of wars with a cyber-net enemy. The last of the remaining colonization ships have nearly depleted all of their resources, and so they’ve sent scavenger units back to Earth tot gather materials. However, one group never made it back, and players assume the role of Adam or Eve to begin their quest to find the lost unit.
The story is delivered in the very beginning and then in small bits from NPCs. However, the game relies heavily on the environment to tell the story of what happened to the Earth. Although the graphics mimic what you’d find on the Atari, the developers did a great job and making sense of where you were in the world. There are four main areas visited that each act as a piece to the overarching narrative.
Each area visited has a different theme that puts the player’s skill to the test. Unlike other cinematic platformers, The Eternal Castle is rather forgiving with fall height and the amount of damage that you can take. It also hosts a series of weapons that can be picked up and used against enemies. The game also features a melee attack, that I found to be more useful than the guns at times.
The action elements are where The Eternal Castle sets itself apart. However, that doesn’t mean that the game lacks instadeath traps that the genre is known for. Luckily, there are plenty of checkpoints available during each level. Stages require players to make their way to a power source, guarded by a boss, to attach to their broken ship. The levels aren’t entirely linear, with each of them featuring branching paths and secret areas.
The surprising thing about The Eternal Castle is how it introduces features that it didn’t need but definitely increases the replayability. Throughout the adventure, you can pick up new items that make you stealthier or stronger. This also changes the look of the character slightly. However, it’s totally possible to just pass all of these up in your quest to get to the end of the stage. Some of these items are well hidden, but it just means that after your first time through the game, there’s reason to go back through it. The Eternal Castle is pretty short, and after your initial playthrough, it’s possible to complete the game in under 2 hours.
Movement in the game can be an issue as it retains that floaty cinematic platformer design. Playing the game on Switch, the developers seem to love using the vibration feature because it gets pretty insane on both Joy-con and the Pro Controller. Attacking is also awkward with shots from a gun never really hitting their target. Still, it fits the overall tone for the game and adds another layer of difficulty outside of navigating the harsh environments.
Bosses in The Eternal Castle are each unique, but I felt the developer could have used them to tie into the story a little better. Most of the time, you simply walk into a room and fight. There’s no lead-in or explanation, which makes it tougher to understand who you’re fighting in the first place. I found the bosses to be easier than some of the stages since the dodge roll mechanic is so useful. However, there’s also a stamina meter that exhausts after attacks and actions, so that usually plays a more significant role in the difficulty of the boss.
The Eternal Castle on Switch sadly has its share of technical bugs. There were moments where I would randomly climb up a wall that I wasn’t supposed to and die, clip through walls, or get stuck inside of a wall. It happened too often to overlook and had me always waiting for the next time I would need to restart the game after a glitch. There’s also a music glitch where the background ambiance would cut out randomly.
Puzzles are present in The Eternal Castle, but they aren’t used nearly enough to warrant even being in the game. There was one puzzle where you had to enter a series of symbols into a computer, but this came after several stages absent of puzzles, so I wasn’t even ready to encounter something like this. Still, I can’t look past how genuinely gorgeous the game is and how creative the team got with piecing together these unique settings.
The Eternal Castle: Remastered is a fun cinematic platformer that sparks imagination and frustration as you make your way through the minimalist levels. The developers have taken the genre and made it their own by implementing more action-centric elements and branching paths. The Switch version sadly has a few bugs that will send you to an early death, but that didn’t stop me from wanting to see this mission through until the end.
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