Clastle is an
indie platformer game developed by Rocket Launcher Interactive,
which boasts detailed 3D graphics and unusual Z-axis movement.
The game is essentially your typical platform-jumping adventure
game, with the added eye-candy of scripted events as you
maneuver through each level. The hero is a ninja named Nero who
has arrived at a creepy island castle in search of something
important to him. The game is purely single-player and offers a
few token resolution options, but only one of them supports
fullscreen play. This is a budget title, so players should come
into it expecting to get what they paid for.
expectations will, at best, prove accurate. At worst, players
may feel a little cheated. Clastle does feature passable 3D
graphics, nicer than what you might expect from a budget title,
but certainly nothing special - the "advanced lighting effects"
and "detailed textures" advertised by Rocket Launcher
Interactive do indeed give the game some degree of polish, but
are simply not as impressive as the developer seems to think.
The overall design aesthetic is really not bad, especially
considering the price, but the lackluster menus and splash
screens are classic budget-title fare and leave much to be
That being said,
it's all downhill from there. The sound is about on-par with
what you'd expect, with moody-yet-forgettable background music
and pretty standard sound effects. The storyline is a little
intriguing, but not engaging. Bits and pieces are revealed over
time as you work your way through the levels via big signs with
diary-like entries. The story is relatively unimportant in a
game of this type, so that's okay - but what isn't okay is how
frustrating it is to play Clastle.
The controls are
simple, and the entire thing is really built around moving from
left to right and jumping or ducking. Unfortunately, the Z-axis
movement described by the developer as a "spotlight" of this
game is merely a hindrance, providing the player with no
advantage at all while assuring the occasional headache. Getting
through one simple jump is quite often a major chore, as your
jump height is inconsistent and you'll often find yourself
mysteriously unable to get up onto a ledge.
The level design
is occasionally clever, but overall quite ordinary. Checkpoints
help to keep you from pulling your hair out, but since you'll
have to start the level over after losing four lives, baldness
is still a danger. "Puzzle" elements generally consist of an
object that you have to use the action button on, and the
difficulty is in figuring out which side to stand on when doing
it. Okay, so it does get a little harder than that later on, but
not by much. Most of the time, Clastle's difficulty is created
by cheap pitfalls that you must memorize and avoid. Since the
player has no way of panning the screen up or down, falling to
your death is the most common way to die - and since the game
often requires you to make a leap of faith, it happens a lot.
Clastle is plagued by bugs and glitches, usually affecting the
background graphics, but the occasional "floating ninja" and
"whoops, I can't move" are around as well. As far as I'm
concerned, "But it's a budget title" will only excuse so much.
Is Clastle worth a few bucks? I suppose that depends on what a
few bucks is worth to you. My advice: skip this one and take
your business elsewhere.
United States Writing Team