LifeisXbox’s Castle of Secrets preview | Once upon a time, a girl named Susan was born in a castle. After a while, her father died, and her mother was forced to wed a rich man. A curse struck the castle and after being subjected to verbal and physical abuse by her husband, Susan’s mother died by falling from a balcony; it is unknown whether her death was a suicide or not. Will you be able to uncover the mystery behind the castle’s curse and your mother’s death? Aliens Games and AD Games are developing Castle of Secrets, which AD Games will also publish.
ℹ️ Previewed on PC | Preview code provided by PR/publisher, this preview is the personal opinion from the writer and is based on an unfinished game.
Art and ambience
What’s different about Castle of Secrets is that it isn’t just a regular point-and-click game, it’s a 2.5D one. The environments and objects are 3D, letting you zoom in and out at any point to find new objects to interact with, but the characters are all 2D, setting the game apart from most of the sea of point-and-click games out there. In addition, characters may be moved around the screen using A and D, and when controlling Susan, you can jump by using the spacebar, but the entire demo only required jumping once.
When the graphical settings are set to Ultra (which is ideal), the ambience is pretty good, having the dark ambience intended by the developers, which nicely fits the game’s narrative. The 2D art also helps quite a bit with setting the tone right, bringing all the melancholy and proper seriousness to the characters and the story. The 3D environments, animals, and objects themselves aren’t as much of a highlight as the 2D art and lightning are, the Shadows are essential in making them look good, so keep the Shadows option on the graphical settings as high as possible.
The voice acting and sound effects are both fairly good; they support the game’s tone and frequently outweigh the background music. The soundtrack complements the mood created by the rest of the game, yet there are times when it entirely vanishes, allowing you to concentrate on what is happening and what you should do next. There are times when the soundtrack picks up, usually during cutscenes where characters are speaking and the plot is gradually developing and revealing new mysteries.
Room for improvements
There were some problems that were quite annoying/disappointing to see in this demo. Dragging 3D objects in a 3D environment can be pretty finicky because you’ll undoubtedly have problems placing them where you want them. The camera slightly moves by itself when you move your mouse, and this can get in your way when trying to pick something up. As you can see from the side-by-side images I’ve selected, setting the shadows to minimal almost completely removes them, setting a different tone and making the game look considerably worse. Some of the symbols on the tips of the circle in the puzzle above are pretty difficult to see, as you can see for yourself.
This is a demo, so it’s understandable that there weren’t any checkpoints or an option to save the game, I believe this won’t be a problem in the final version. The game automatically opened with all settings set on ultra, I changed them, but every time I opened the menu it still showed as if almost all of them still were on ultra, even though they weren’t. The hint only highlights what you can interact with, the problem is that it doesn’t highlight them well enough. I only finished the first level because of a glitch that allowed me to pick up a matchbox under a hat if I placed my mouse just right, I couldn’t figure out how to get rid of the bird that was on top of the hat to get the matchbox the intended way.
Castle of Secrets has potential overall, with an intriguing plot, artwork, soundtrack, and atmosphere, but there is still much space for improvement. If the current technical and gameplay-related issues are adequately handled, this game has the potential to be great when its final version is released. I wish the developers the best of luck with it.
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Hi there, I’m Gabriel Colombo (Hence my reviewer name), I live in Brazil and I’ve been gaming since I was around 5 years old. Xbox became my main platform on the Xbox 360 era, before that I had played a bit on PC, Polystation (basically a skinned SNES), PlayStation 1 and 2. I really enjoy to experience immersive worlds, but I also enjoy playing silly games to have a laugh or just have fun.