Castle Age: Heart of Darkness is a fantasy world better left unexplored
In theory, Castle Age: Heart of Darkness has everything you could want in an RPG. It’s deep and seemingly complex, features a dark fantasy world to explore, and offers up plenty of combat and lots of character customization. Sounds good, right? It’s just too bad that virtually every aspect of the game, from exploring to fighting, is incredibly dull.
The game takes place in a dark fantasy world filled with demons and all sorts of monsters you probably don’t want to get mixed up in. You don’t learn this from talking to characters are walking around the environment, though, instead it’s all relayed through text. Despite its lush and quite beautiful art, Heart of Darkness is, in essence, a text and menu-driven game. To explore a new area, for instance, you simply click that point on the map and select the quest option. Doing so will sap some of your energy and increase the amount you’ve explored. Once you’ve explored 100 percent of an area, you can move on to the next.
Except it never really feels like you’re actually exploring. You just click a button, read a brief bit of text, and watch a meter slowly fill up. You can enter the game and click to explore five times and finish up all of your energy in a matter of seconds. It’s not particularly fun or exciting.
The most enjoyment you’ll likely get out of the game will come from customizing your character. As you earn experience points you’ll be able to upgrade certain skills and, as with most RPGs, there’s a shop where you can outfit yourself with the best weapons and armor. And you’ll need it for the combat portion. You can either fight other players in a semi-PvP portion of the game, or you can summon might monsters and slowly whittle away their health over time. You can even call upon friends for help in those cases.
But the combat, too, is relatively dull. Though it looks fun, with a screen set-up much like what you’ll find ina fighting game like Street Fighter, all you’re really doing is clicking the attack button. There’s no strategy. It’s simply whoever is the strongest wins, which isn’t very fun.
This is all the more disappointing considering just how great Heart of Darkness looks. Though it’s based around text and menus, there’s some wonderful art. The monsters and environments look appropriately sinister, and even the menus themselves evoke the feeling of dark magic. But visuals can’t make a game fun and, sadly, for all of its depth and style Castle Age: Heart of Darkness isn’t all that enjoyable. There’s so little strategy and even less immersion that it feels like a great fictional world is wasted on a boring game.