With the fad of retro gaming still chugging along, it brings us to the month of October, so we're in time for some horror-themed games. Citadale: The Legends Trilogy is out to meet both of those descriptors. While it's Castlevania-like, it's not exactly that either. So how is it? Well...
As told by the long opening intro (all text!), a great evil was once in the land. A warrior battling it defeated it and looked after the remnants to make sure it never rose again. The warrior met a girl, Sonja, and he taught her to be a warrior. Years later, after marriage, the evil returns, and battling it again, Sonja needs to fight her way past the evils forces, back to them. Like all games of the era, the plot isn't that important, since what you need to do if fight the baddies. But it provides a good reason to battle through, and Sonja's reasoning to fight does permeate throughout the game.
Despite being played on a laptop, the controls felt just like playing a cabinet-style arcade game. It's not too complicated – only a few keys are really used, but that makes it feel even more like an arcade game. I don't know how to explain it though. It felt lake playing in an arcade – and it's a really good sign for a game that's banking on retro to do that.
Graphics are also retro. They're 8-bit designed. All the monsters and skeletons and other characters have that jerky walk, like the developers only made 4 images of them, so when they looped together, they look like they're walking. Backgrounds are also impressive – they're 8-bit as usual but they also have that far away yet detailed block look hat was so prevalent – the mountains in particular actually look beautiful. If you're a fan of the older games like this, you'll love it.
Going through the game, gameplay is both basic and varied. You have a special weapon and such, and going through killing everything, it's what you expect – sidescroller fun. A lot of it is running, jumping, stabbing and throwing. Those parts were OK, but the way it scrolled was in chunks – it didn't follow you at all times, only by each little section, so as you complete the level, it slowly progresses you across. I felt this was jerky and screwed up the timing and play. Fun, but it's broken up into blocks, within levels.
The music and the sound is what you would expect. There's plenty of creepy, 80's/early 90's video game music in those computer tunes. It fits amazingly well with the graphics. Citadale also has those bleeps, bloops and 'coin' noises almost pulled directly from that era as well. Honestly, this was pretty great – it all blends in so together. I've heard Citadale be called a 'Castlevania clone', and while there are many similarities, Citadale mixes the tone in much better. That organ yet still computery music hits the mark.
There's not much I can complain about on the frame rate – it's as jumpy as any other game was back then. As for glitches, that weird scroll-break style was annoying, but intentional. A few times I threw something it hit a character and they didn't die, but it may have only been a close call. Nothing really major that detracts from the game.
Citadale: The Legends Trilogy is overall a not bad game. You get three chapters (hence trilogy), so it definitely has value. But it has all the pluses and negatives games of that era had. If you love games from that era, especially Castlevania, then you'll like this. It's still worth a look even if you're a more casual gamer in my opinion. If you're looking for an old school Halloween game this fall, I'd say this is worth a play.
Final Score: 8 out of 10
A copy of this game was obtained for the purpose of review.