- System: PC
- Publisher: Happinet
- Developer: Asakusa Studios
- Release Date: Nov 15, 2017
- Rating: NR
- Genre: Action, Adventure, RPG
- Players: 1
- Official Website: http://hyakki-castle.asakusastudios.jp/?lang=en
Who it Caters to
What to Expect
If you’re new to first-person dungeon crawlers—or RPGs whichever you prefer—then you might need to understand what you’re getting into when playing HYAKKI CASTLE. Players create a team of 4 characters with different job classes and skills and explore a dungeon while in first person perspective. With a map in the corner, players will investigate the dungeon—or in this case a castle—all while solving puzzles and fighting off enemies. Though as we mentioned before, HYAKKI CASTLE does some things slightly different with this tried and true style of old school gameplay.
As soon as you create your characters—which there is a nice amount of choices and jobs to choose from initially—you’re thrown into HYAKKI CASTLE with the screen split down vertically. This is because in HYAKKI CASTLE, your team of 4 can be split into two groups which is a very different design from most titles like it. This system of two teams allows for players to explore various areas of the map as well as solve puzzles—such as stepping on two ground levers at the same time—and even fight enemies from different sides. There is some risk with splitting a team for too long as enemies can overwhelm a split group of only 1 or 2 members but if you’re smart you can usually find clever ways to take down enemies strategically, a rarity for dungeon RPGs.
Beyond that gameplay mechanic, players will enjoy the regular RPG gameplay themes such as leveling up your characters, finding new equipment via chests and learning new skills as you level up. Your characters at the start are going to be your main team so make sure to read everything about their strengths and weaknesses before just making them. A good team will make HYAKKI CASTLE easier while random jobs for your 4 controller heroes might make things a bit more annoying. It’s an often-used series of gameplay mechanics in RPGs and first-person exploration titles but it works and keeps things simple enough. Though there’s another reason why it works rather well in HYAKKI CASTLE.
HYAKKI CASTLE is actually not a fantasy based title—though the youkai enemies can be seen as fantasy themed—but is instead, a first-person RPG with horror themes. The various areas of the HYAKKI CASTLE are creepy, unsettling and swarming with disturbing creatures. Add to that the atmosphere only adds to the horror elements and you have a hybrid title that is one-part survival horror—though that’s more how we see it here at Honey’s Anime—and first-person RPG. It creates a truly unique setting and that’s something that truly impressed us about HYAKKI CASTLE.
Now, if we talk more about the exploration elements of HYAKKI CASTLE, we have some good things to say as well as some bad ones. The good comes in the form of the fun action RPG elements where all 4 characters on your team must be used in real time to attack enemies, buff your team with defensive spells and/or weaken enemies with debuffs. It keeps players on their feet, especially when you come across multiple enemies. The negative element though is that enemies rarely ever pose a threat and 9/10 times we found ourselves dying from traps in the various areas of HYAKKI CASTLE. It can be rather annoying to make it so far on a map and die because of a fire trap and or spikes on the floor and with save points—which are also used to resurrect teammates and heal both HP and MP—thinly spaced on each floor, HYAKKI CASTLE can be a test of your patience at times.
Graphically, HYAKKI CASTLE is an extreme mixed bag. While the art and youkai design is fantastic, the environments feel pretty bland and average. Even as you get higher up the castle, the environments tend to stay the same for hours on end which can lead to you getting lost and getting bored. Though the background music alleviates this a bit as it creates a feeling of tension to hear creatures lurking in the corners and small water drips when in the dungeon and wind effects as you get higher up. All in all, HYAKKI CASTLE works well enough for the price tag but we’ve definitely seen better for first-person dungeon games.
Lastly, let us talk about our other small gripes with HYAKKI CASTLE. While HYAKKI CASTLE offers controller function—so you can use various gamepads to play—we preferred using the Keyboard as the controller. Gameplay felt a bit less smooth and clunky at times. We tested this out with two controllers and got the same response each time. Our last minor issue is the issue that plagues all first-person dungeon titles like HYAKKI CASTLE, repetition. Even after the first hour, we here at Honey’s Anime began to grow tired of seeing the same looking area and fighting the same types of youkai. While different floors begin to offer new areas to look at and monsters to fight—which some get pretty cool looking—it doesn’t elevate the feeling of boredom to be had. That’s why, if you’re not a fan of first-person RPGs you might have issues with HYAKKI CASTLE, though if you love them then you probably will be exempt from this thought.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
- Dual Teams is a great idea
- Good old fashioned first-person RPG gameplay
- Nice environments create a creepy horror atmosphere
- Impressive art
- Awesome monster designs
- Controller support is poorly implemented
- Isn’t too different from most first-person dungeon RPGs
- Gameplay systems aren’t always explained that well