Build, expand, survive! Retro-Pixel Castles is a rouge-lite city builder.
Building towns and villages has always been something I’ve enjoyed greatly, going back to the original Sim City and the iconic Impressions Games city builders such as Caesar and Pharaoh. Since then I’ve tried pretty much every single one I could get my hands on, including the game of the hour, Retro-Pixel Castles, made by SixtyGig Games which consists of a single guy named Raymond.
When I first tried Retro-Pixel Castles, which was around inDev 10 or 11 at the time, it was right before the monsters came lurking but the game already had a solid set of core features. However, after a few playthroughs it felt a little empty, so I decided to put it on the shelve for a while and see what would become of it. Yesterday I decided to give it another try and, boy, was I pleasantly surprised!
Since my first attempts at the game it has evolved a lot. One of the big new introductions are the god powers, which are a beautiful display of Rays attention to detail when it comes to his particle effects (more on those later). These newfound powers will allow you to take a more active role in helping your villagers as you do not have direct control over them aside from assigning what building they work in and where they should gather resources. Everything else, like who does what and where they go, is up the the AI, and for the most part it works very well.
Your godly powers aside, a whole slew of bug bashing and balancing improvements, a save system, new buildings as well as new functions for some existing buildings, and not to mention the weather effects are some of the fresh additions to the game. It is really starting to shape into a complete experience. Oh yeah, and did I mention that there is no way to win? That’s right, welcome to Rays world; it isn’t a pleasant place.
Retro-Pixel Castles is, according to Ray himself, a game inspired by games like Dwarf Fortress and Banished, both of which are titles with interesting survival aspects to say the least, and I can see some of the parallels. While playing on survival I’m having a hard time surviving past day 10-11. This invokes flashbacks from all the “fun” I’ve had in Dwarf Fortress. Luckily, if you enjoy a more relaxed experience, you can play on peaceful mode, which locks the game to day 1 difficulty.
Another recent arrival in the features department is the tips system, which is very helpful to explain some of the more complex inner workings of the game to new players. For example, one of the tips the game sees fit to grant you goes as follows:
“Give your villagers some time off and it will increase the time they spend socializing and as a result also the chance for mating.” Which makes sense, at least until you remember that this is a race against the clock and it’s around that point you begin to realize just how the developer enjoys messing with your head.
It was during my first game in InDev 15i, when around day 9 my village had already seen its best days and I found out about the Motivate Land power.
This god ability has the power to regrow resources like forests and knowing it was a long shot, I decided to try and barricade myself in by forests. Unfortunately, it didn’t go very well at all as the bad guys are determined with a capital “D”! They plowed through the forests and two days later I was congratulated on my “success” and invited to “doom another village”.
As mentioned earlier, one of the most amazing features in the game are the particle effects that are present everywhere. In some places there are really subtle ways to show that something has happened like dirt around construction sites or wood chips flying while chopping down trees. In other places they are amazing displays of power like burnt ground and little fires radiating outwards from a where a lightning has struck. Puddles of water, blood, or goo and essence particles flying from building to building all help provide a mesmerizing light show that I don’t think I’ve ever seen in a city builder before.
The soundtrack is also amazing. There’s nothing like watching your little settlement getting ripped to pieces and your villagers getting their guts torn out by angry monsters to the calm and soothing track of a banjo playing, as if the tune wants to tell you this is perfectly normal. Yet, somehow the sound effects and music are well suited to the game. Well played Ray, well played.
There are still some problems with the game: a worker from a far away comes to pick up resources right next to an idle worker, while the building that needs the resource is right next to the idle worker; defending villagers venture further and further away from village and backup. Still, no game breaking issues that I have encountered.
Retro-Pixel Castles is a great early access game, which already provides a lot of value for your money as it stands right now. Recommended!
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