If you’ve never played The Impossible Game, it’s essentially a tough-as-nails platformer where you control a cube that is only capable of jumping, whether it be onto platforms or over spikes. It’s lauded for its difficulty and simple design. Take The Impossible Game, flesh out the controls, put it in a medieval setting, and you get To The Castle. Before you ask, no, it does not feel like a ripoff at all, but this game doesn’t control like many others do, so the comparison serves as a great reference for how To The Castle plays. It definitely stands apart, but is it good?
With To The Castle, Dodozen has created an Android action platformer that looks familiar, but plays uniquely. When you first load up the game, you’ll see enemies walking in patterns, some platforms, a few coins, and probably think that you know exactly what to do. Well, you’re wrong. While the level design is relatively generic and could fit into almost any 2D platformer, the controls are what make this game unique and challenging.
In most mobile platformers, the left side of the screen is reserved for movement while the right side is for jumping and/or attacking, but that isn’t exactly the case in To The Castle. The right side of the screen is still dedicated to jumping, but the left side doesn’t let you control your movement in the way you think it would. You cannot make your character go to the left or right; the left side of the screen only lets you dash, which you can also do in midair. If you actually want to change your direction, your only option is to bump into a wall and have it turn you around. When enemies are nearby, this can put you in a tough spot, but that’s part of the game’s unique challenge.
The unorthodox controls make To The Castle more challenging than it would be if it were a traditional platformer. What would usually be a simple romp that could be completed in seven seconds becomes a slower-paced Super Meat Boy. It requires timing and strategy to maneuver around the enemies and spikes since you can’t touch either of them without dying. As you would imagine, the controls and the ever-present danger can make some levels fairly challenging. Thankfully, just like Super Meat Boy, once you die, you can attempt the level again within two seconds. As opposed to another frustratingly difficult game, Dark Souls, which makes covering from death such a hassle that I get bored and give up, To The Castle’s quick respawns actually encourage me to retry the level until I beat it.
The art style in To The Castle is nice to look at, but it’s nothing special. I’m of the opinion that how a game looks should have no negative impact on it as long as it’s fun, and this is one of those cases. As usual, having in-app purchases in a paid game is still an annoyance, but at least they don’t make the levels feel impossible to beat or anything like that. To The Castle won’t change the world, but it’s an interesting platformer that requires precision and can have sessions that last under a minute, which is a boon for any mobile game.
But is it Hardcore?
While not groundbreaking, To The Castle is a solid platformer with a twist.