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Castle Story Preview – PAX East 2013

By: Michael Dao

Growing up, one of my favorite toys were LEGO building block kits. You could follow the instructions and create amazing scenes and buildings, or you could just build anything that you wanted to, the only limit being your imagination. Idyllic scenes, great battles involving pirate ships, were all possible in the mind of a child armed with several hundred LEGO blocks in his or her arsenal. The only limit is the number of LEGOs that our parents could afford to purchase. Today, we live in a digital age. In a world where relatively inexpensive computers are incredibly capable, we can easily understand the appeal of titles such as Minecraft, which allow the player to build to construct just about anything they can come up with.

However, there are some issues with Minecraft which never allowed it to take hold in my very own heart the way it has in the hearts of so many. First was the fact that every thing needed to be built by the player, and the second was that there wasn’t so much in the way of things to do past building. Sure, you had creepers and they were something to worry about, but my heart demanded more. Epic battles surrounding a castle, adventures with pirate ships. Castle Story may not have pirate ships, but as you may have surmised from the title, it does have castles. Boy, does it have castles.

If you look at Castle Story from a very high level and compared it to Minecraft it would serve as an eerily accurate allegory for manufacturing in the United States. Bear with me, this actually works. The point of Minecraft is that the player is dropped into this randomly generated world, and using just the materials about in the world, they have to construct shelter and then weapons from creatures that attack under the cover of darkness. It’s fun. Numerous people enjoy the title every day. A quick Google Image Search will show you some of the amazing things that people have built in Minecraft, either all by themselves, or with friends. It’s that fact right there which brings me to the biggest reason that I never really got sucked into Minecraft. I hated doing everything by myself.

Here is where the allegory kicks in. In Minecraft the player has to design and then implement whatever it is they want to build. Though Castle Story does indeed narrow the scope of the sandbox that you can play in, it still has the potential to be even more enjoyable than Minecraft. On the surface, it is clear how the former title influenced the latter. The player exists in a randomly generated world, with a day night cycle. When night comes, monsters attack, and the daytime is spent gathering resources and preparing a defensive structure of sorts. Some might call it a castle, even. The innovation in Castle Story is that instead of designing and building the castle, the player simply designs a castle, and there are these small yellow men who then gather the necessary resources and build the castle for the player. In fact, some of the workers can be converted into knights and archers to better defend the player’s castle. No longer does the player have to implement his or her ideas. They simply need to design it, a cerebral exercise, and then outsource the work to something that can be automated.

Castle Story Screenshot

Castle Story is currently in an early prototype build available to its Kickstarter backers on Steam. Beta is expected later, but already what is shown is promising. Although monsters are not yet included, many people are building castles, and it’s as fun as one would expect. Gamers that liked Minecraft should definitely keep an eye on this title.

Disclaimer: The Kickstarter for Castle Story is already over, and I was a backer. However, I did not claim my free hug exclusive to backers at PAX East.

Castle Story will be available on multiple platforms.

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