If you have a fondness for classic point-and-click games, by god you’re going to love Darkestville Castle.
Casting you as friendly neighbourhood demon Cid, Darkestville Castle opens with Cid’s arch-nemesis, Dan Teapot, attempting to set a rag-tag trio of demon hunters called the Romero Brothers on him. Except… it doesn’t quite go to plan. Instead, Dan finds himself captured inside Cid’s basement, and Cid’s left trying to outsmart the Romero Brothers himself. Not a problem when you’re as charismatic and cunning as Cid.
Darkestville Castle isn’t anything new; it’s been around on PC since 2017, and has since had an Android and iOS release. But it’s now available on consoles. It’s exactly the same game, only with full controller support. Point-and-click games on consoles can be hit and miss, but the controls have been thoughtfully implemented here. You control the cursor with your left analogue stick, but you can toggle through interactive items and your inventory with the shoulder buttons and triggers, making life much easier.
“The game springs to life with beautiful hand-drawn locations and character models”
If you’ve not come across Darkestville Castle before though, you’ll find yourself immediately at home with it if you’re a fan of the likes of the Monkey Island games and other classic LucasArts adventures. It’s been designed very much in the spirit of Curse of Monkey Island – the best of the lot – only instead of a hapless pirate-wannabe, you’re in control of a demon who thrives on mayhem.
The game springs to life with beautiful hand-drawn locations and character models. Though dark and foreboding, the town of Darkestville manages to be a delight to explore thanks to its whimsical characters and curious locations. Cid’s home – the titular Darkestville Castle – is a wonder in itself, with every room stuffed with curios. Interacting with everything on offer will reward you with funny anecdotes and one-liners from Cid that are worthwhile in themselves.
“Sometimes, it’s too obtuse for its own good”
Around town, locations are just as pleasant to explore. The tavern (because every good point-and-click game needs a tavern; it’s the law) is inhabited by weird and wonderful townsfolk, and colourful hot dog vendors hide down alleyways. Characters are fully voiced, lending the game a level of polish and personality that sets it apart from many others in the genre. In terms of its audio and visual design, you don’t get much better than Darkestville Castle.
However, its gameplay is often plagued with the usual issue that haunts point-and-click adventure games. Sometimes, it’s too obtuse for its own good. Now, since Darkestville Castle has been around on other formats since 2017, there’s naturally an abundance of guides and walkthroughs to be found online if you’re so inclined. But one shouldn’t have to rely on these, and the game offers no contextual help or hint system to help you along the way.
For example, early on in the adventure, you’re tasked with helping a hot dog vendor replenish his marinara sauce. Your first thought is, obviously, finding some sort of edible substance that might be useful. Cid’s got a kitchen in his castle; maybe there’ll be something there. But no: the item you need to make marinara sauce is, in fact, Cid’s old coat. A coat that becomes sauce. Sure, the world of Darkestville is strange and obscure, but it’s quite a leap to instantly know you need an old coat to make sauce. There are very, very subtle hints in some of the game’s flavour text, but it’s almost impossible to catch them all.
As such, you’ll undoubtedly spend quite a bit of time attempting to combine the contents of your inventory with practically anything you can interact with. It can become rather frustrating, and the lure of a Google search may just become too great. But that isn’t a problem unique to Darkestville Castle; the adventure games it apes practically invented obscure puzzles, so it’s rather fitting.
“Despite his demonic tendencies, it’s impossible not to love Cid”
If you don’t mind scratching your head from time to time as you try to figure out what the heck you’re supposed to be doing, there’s a lot to love about Darkestville Castle. Despite his demonic tendencies, it’s impossible not to love Cid; and the other characters you’ll encounter on your adventure are delightful too, brought to life with excellent voice acting. It looks wonderful, it’ll regularly have you laughing, and solving a puzzle by yourself is always rewarding; all in all, Darkestville Castle does a wonderful job at capturing the joy of the classic point-and-click genre.