Version Tested: Xbox One
Available To Download: $4.99 (If You Own Xbox 360 Version), $14.99
Developer: The Behemoth
Genre: Beat-Em-Up RPG
Castle Crashers Remastered, as its name suggests, is a next gen remaster of the original game released in 2008. Having never had the opportunity to play the original I was eager to see what I had missed. I am so pleased that The Behemoth took their time to create this remastered version because I really enjoyed this game and hope others take the time to experience it too.
The first thing you will notice when you load up Castle Crashers Remastered is just how creative and flamboyant the world is. Characters, backdrops and weapons are all hand drawn which gives the game a uniqueness that the majority of current titles lack. There is a childlike imagination at play here and this allows the enemies, environments and bosses to be strange and unexpected. I really enjoyed this universe and had no issue accepting all the circumstances and elements within it.
Essentially Castle Crashers Remastered is a beat-em-up with RPG elements but the game can be as complex as you want it to be. You can button mash your way through the adventure or you can strategically use combos to get through the levels flawlessly. The stages themselves are side scrolling affairs and you will defeat enemies using swordplay, magic and a crossbow. As you progress, you will gain experience points which you can use to customize your character. Attack, Defense, Magic and Agility are the attributes which will decide the fate of your character and you will grow significantly stronger as you journey through this story. This is not the first nor will it be the last game to play like this but Castle Crashers Remastered does it extremely well.
When you start the game, you will choose your hero (you’ll unlock new ones too) and work your way through a Mario influenced world map. Each of these characters play very similarly to the next but small differences will make it worth experimenting between them. The pink knight for example has a rainbow crossbow and is able to fire penguin bombs. The story is fairly linear and completing each stage will unlock the next, you’ll encounter a few obstacles along the way but starting a different level will soon reward you with the tools to proceed.
Castle Crashers Remastered is extremely amusing. There is rarely any dialogue within the game but the cartoon theme enables brilliant visual humor. In one particular level there is an intimidating sound chasing you through the forest. Apparently you are not the only one terrified as you will see a number animals show their fear in a very specific way. This light hearted humor is dotted throughout the game and it accompanies the world perfectly.
The boss battles are the best element of Castle Crashers Remastered. Unlike the majority of the enemies you’ll encounter, they force you to play the game differently. They are very balanced so you never find yourself becoming too frustrated by their strength. They are more puzzle like and once you’ve discovered the flaws in their defense, you can use that against them. What I love about the bosses is how different they are to anything I’ve ever seen. Giant demon cats or U.F.O’s are just some of the foes you will encounter and their animations are fantastic.
Another highlight of the game is the multiplayer mode. You have the option of playing with up to four players either on or offline and it makes the game more fun and a lot more forgiving. The single player mode can be quite difficult at times and grinding on previous stages to increase your level is needed. In multiplayer there are no extra enemies and they don’t have extra health so you essentially have up to four times the amount of fire power at your disposal. If an ally falls in battle, you even have the opportunity to revive them whereas in single player death results in you having to play the stage from the beginning. If you don’t have anyone to play with, do not fear, there is online matchmaking and it is a great way to play the game and level up your character for the single player portion.
A hindrance I encounter in the game play is the depth perception. Having spent over 20 hours with the game, I would still find myself swinging my sword at the air instead of the intended target. At first I thought it was my own inability and I would adjust as time passed but I never did and when playing with my partner, she encountered the same issue. This is particularly frustrating in the later portions of the game when you have to seize your opportunities to deal damage and you find yourself an inch above the enemy wasting your chance.
My other critique with Castle Crashers Remastered are the projectiles. How I hate projectiles. If you are hit by an arrow or magic ball, it always knocks you to the floor. The AI has an uncanny ability to be able to fire another just as you are getting to your feet and will knock you over again. Sometimes I would be successively hit by a dozen or so bullets and anger would ensue. You do have the ability to use your shield and block from ranged attacks but as I engaged in hand to hand combat, the AI would always fire as my guard was down. The maneuverability with the shield can be cumbersome too as you cannot quickly defend your rear, instead you have to lower your guard, turn around and raise your shield once more. Frequently throughout the game you are attacked on both sides and long range attacks will massacre you. It does mix up the game play but sometimes I felt as though the CPU had an unfair advantage and I didn’t have all the tools to prevent it.
Castle Crashers Remastered runs smoothly on the Xbox One at 60 frames per second. I never once encountered any slow down and the amount of action that can be happening on screen sometimes is staggering. That being said, sometimes there is just too much happening and strategy can go out of the window. At one point during my play it was raining and enemies were transforming into tornadoes and I had no idea what was happening. I could barely see my own character let alone focus on accuracy and combos. Fortunately this only happened a couple of times and on the whole, the game tends to unleash a proportionate amount of bad guys.
A really enjoyed my entire experience with Castle Crashers Remastered. The game play is fun, the animation is beautiful and the RPG elements are sophisticated and rewarding. There is a lot of replayability here too. Once the credits roll you can still level your character up by playing past levels and you can even find secrets which were not accessible on your first play through. Include a couple of extra multiplayer modes available to you and you have a great package here for a great price. If, like me, you grew up with games such as Streets of Rage and Golden Axe, you will love this game and if you are more of a hardcore RPG fan, you will find a lot of enjoyment here too.