The Eternal Castle Remastered is a borderline masterpiece if you ask me. Wait, you didn’t ask? Well, you’re reading this, so I’m saying borderline masterpiece. A sci-fi adventure with an ambiguous plot, this retro title from the 80s is a breath of fresh air.
As you may have read elsewhere, one thing that will be recurring in this review is the sublime presentation. In the earlier news piece, I compared it to an animated sequence from Heavy Metal. If we’re talking 80s, the animation is a pixelated version of Rupert and the Frog Song. Pfft! That’s one for the demographics…
Though the visuals are amazing, it can be hard to see everything. Who needs to see what they’re doing in a game? Vision is overrated. However, for all the bits that you do see, they’re deliciously good, in a CGA aesthetic – palette and all. The Eternal Castle Remastered wasn’t tinkered with to take advantage of ray tracing, but even all these years later, the experience is mesmerising.
The Eternal Castle Remastered (PS4 Review)
You’ll have to take all this praise with a pinch of salt – I made the game. I jest. I have nothing to do with this or any other title but a veteran gamer who holds Another World (Out Of This World in the US) in high regard. Just beating the latter to launch, The Eternal Castle was the egg, or was it the chicken, and came first.
Hate to bring this to your attention, but it’s not a remaster. Instead, it’s the craftsmanship of Leonard Menchiari, Giulio Perrone, and Daniele Vicinanzo to get ‘as close as possible to the dream-game they wish they could’ve played when they were kids’. It’s impossible to know every game, but this wasn’t one that I had previously heard of in the late 80s. The crafty buggers…
Still, this game is fantastic. After the first time playing, I thought that I’m pretty good at these old games. In hindsight, it’s relatively new (it was on Steam before the PS4). Then I got to the end battle and cried myself a river.
Jumping to the achievements list, only a quarter of it was complete. Browsing through the trophies, you have to make it through the game unscathed, find all ten weapons on offer, and so on, and so on. It’s quite a big ask. The overall experience is worth your coins, but these extra challenges make it even more worthwhile, adding up the hours to a short game. That is, playing through the story without focusing on all the extras.
Hands Up, Baby, Hands Up
There’s the option to play as Adam or Eve, and while the level design remains the same, speedrunning is encouraged and keeping a clean sheet by not dying. Regardless if you’re a speedrunner or not, The Eternal Castle Remastered can be played at a leisurely pace, but like its counterpart, Another World, standing still for too long will result in a bullet in the head.
The visuals are a standout, and with the revelation that this game isn’t the relic it insinuates to be, it expertly replicates Flashback and Blackthorne for the 32X. Alas, it has that same clunky movement that makes split-second decisions a bit of an afterthought.
Your hips don’t lie, and running, jumping and whipping out either a gun or melee weapon is downright sexy. However, like Flashback, attempting to evade an attack will result in an awkward vertical jump, hands waving around like you don’t care, or crawling at a slow pace when you’re aiming to roll to safety. It takes some getting used to.
Besides a health meter, you also have a stamina gauge for every action you perform: punch, run, jump, sneeze… it’s all exhausting. Button mash (which is doable on some of the bosses and makes some of them a bit too easy), and in the event you get hit with a counter, you may end up losing your head. Literally.
Some passives are on offer, and one of them gives a bit of regeneration to your health. Generally speaking, though, you’ll replenish your health at meditation points, which serve as your respawn spots when you die. Death can be frequent – not solely the combat, but it may be unclear what you need to do, despite The Eternal Castle Remastered being a linear experience.
There’s no hand-holding, but you don’t need it – save for a few unclear paths. Occasionally some NPCs will mutter some info, you’ll find a few diary entries and what-not, but the story is quite vague – but that’s a good thing. In short, you return to Earth to rescue some bird, but things aren’t what they seem. A ‘lad’ synopsis.
Admittedly, I became a bit disgruntled with the final boss. There are three stages to their attack. The first two are a breeze once you learn the mechanics, but the final phase is hard-going as your attacks merge with a puzzle sequence – an easy one, generally speaking, but there’s a short window to get it right, and half the time, it’s hard to process the graphics.
The Eternal Castle Remastered Review Summary
Before you have to leave to get the last train, let’s wind this review down. For Another World, and Prince of Persia fans, plus folk who have flecks of grey in their hair, The Eternal Castle Remastered is a must. With plenty of challenges and achievements to aim for, this will keep you eternally engaged “haha!”.