HIGH Great writing and animation in an imaginative setting.
LOW Point-and-click controls don’t feel good on Switch.
WTF Yikes, some of these jokes are a bit too dark.
A near-infinite number of games have players mowing through waves of demons, ghouls, ghosts, zombies and other creatures that go bump in the night, but few titles look at these enemies as characters in their own right. However, Darkestville Castle from Epic Llama attempts to do just that in a hilarious point-and-click adventure.
Taking place in the titular town of Darkestville (and a few other interesting locales) this tale harkens back to the adventure game heyday of the ’90s. Players control Cid, a delightfully devilish demon who loves committing acts of evil ranging from amassing an army of evil robotic chickens to rigging a bench to explode whenever someone sits on it.
Gameplay-wise, Darkestville Castle asks players to interact with its world in classic point-and-click style. Players navigate the world by moving a cursor and clicking on different things around the environment. Depending on the object or person, Cid will have options like “grab” or “talk to” which will then open up other options.
Unfortunately, controls on the Switch version make this straightforward gameplay a bit harder. As point-and-clicks are generally made for PC, moving the cursor with the left control stick is awkward and imprecise, and it ends up flinging around like crazy. Thankfully, moving the right thumbstick will automatically lock onto anything interactive and the Switch’s touchscreen can also be used to interact. It works, but it never feels natural.
Controls aside, Darkestville Castle is absolutely hilarious. Cid is a self-obsessed narcissist who loves to be evil. His dialogue is bitter but light-hearted, and he comes across more like a spoiled brat than a harbinger of suffering.
As players navigate the world, Cid chats with other residents of Darkestville, like amateur demon hunter Dan Teapot who wants nothing more than to see Cid defeated. When dialogue options opened up, I would gleefully pick new things to say in the hopes of landing something truly outrageous. A favorite was when Cid accidentally questioned the way hot dogs are made in a food truck, or the one-sided conversation he has with his monster-sized fish Domingo.
There are plenty of humorous moments throughout the game, and while some jokes don’t quite land and the voice acting seems stiff from anyone who isn’t Cid, I enjoyed the writing and it reminded me of shows like Futurama or Rick and Morty — sometimes dark, but generally lighthearted enough to keep things enjoyable.
Gameplay is made up of different puzzles that are completed by interacting with the world. Cid talks to someone, they have an issue/desire that they want taken care of, they offer something Cid needs in exchange for completing their task, and this in turn offers another task. Basically, talking to people and listening to them is the way to solve puzzles.
While it was annoying that there wasn’t a menu that listed all the important points throughout the adventure or even just a simple checklist to navigate these tasks, the puzzles were entertaining. For players who are struggling, there are FAQs and guides available — I personally missed a few important talking points but the guides got me up to speed .
Darkestville Castle’s campaign takes only a few hours to finish, but it’s worth experiencing for the laughs. The Flash-esque animation actually looks wonderful in motion, and the characters sport unique styles that inject personality into the campaign. Sure, it might be a pain to try and use that cursor, but the writing is delightful enough to make it worth the headache. For those wanting to learn a little about how things might look from a villain’s perspective, Darkestville Castle might be just the thing.
Disclosures: This game is published by Buka Entertainment and developed by Epic LLama. It is available on Switch, iOS, Android, PS4, PC and XBO. This copy was obtained via publisher and was reviewed on Switch. Approximately 8 hours were spent in singleplayer and the game was completed. There is no multiplayer.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated T for Language and Use of Alcohol. This is a point-and-click adventure where the player controls a demon. There is no explicit violence with blood or gore, just some standard cartoon violence. Mild swears are present and a few jokes can get pretty dark but I would say this is no worse than an episode of shows like The Simpsons, Futurama, Family Guy or Rick and Morty. Definitely alright for older kids.
Colorblind Modes: Colorblind modes are not present in the options menu.
Deaf and Hard of Hearing Gamers: All dialogue is subtitled. Text cannot be resized but the game is fully accessible. (See examples above.)
Remappable Controls: No, the controls are not remappable.The y-axis cannot be changed.