Castles – Review

Title   Castles - Review
Developer  Whootgames
Publisher  BadLand Indie
Platform  PS4, Windows PC
Genre  Puzzler
Release Date  June 29th, 2016
Official Site

castlesrev1The basic ‘match three’ puzzle genre tends to come pre-built with a level of addictiveness and, as such, is usually a quick win for developers. However, in recent times the genre has been milked to death with ‘pay to win’ IAPs. So it’s nice to see that Castles is free of all that nonsense and focused on nothing but the gameplay. Every puzzle game of this sort has a quirk to it and in Castles’ case, they’ve added a little bit of an action element by having you walk around the play area pushing, pulling and climbing over the coloured blocks in order to match them up.

The premise is that you are a builder looking to create a great tower while blocks are dropped into the 5×5 play area grid. If you don’t deal with them quickly enough, the board gets blocked up and it is game over. Matching three or more blocks (by colour or by type) makes them disappear, giving you a bit more more to play with. The main story mode sees you completing ‘quests’ such as putting together three red blocks or three blocks with a hammer or saw or such like on them. Match four in a row and you get a one-use hammer to clear out inconvenient blocks, match five and you get a handy bomb to wipe out anything in a 3×3 area.


As you complete quests, your tower (which is viewed from above) grows. Every tenth level brings in a quite tricky boss battle but also a checkpoint. Bosses are a real pain in this game but they are beatable. Just expect some frustration. Seperate survival and multiplayer modes complete the package but the gameplay doesn’t change much beyond the same match three paradigm and that’s fine for the short term but doesn’t help the game’s longevity. This isn’t a game that is designed for hours of grinding. There’s a difficulty curve (with spikes in the boss battles) and if you’re good enough, it’s over quite soon. The challenge will extend the game’s life though.

castlesrev3With its simple bright and cartoony visuals and cheerful music, Castles is reasonably likeable. The handful of cutscenes are of a particularly poor quality but they are over pretty quickly and you’re probably best off skipping them anyway. The game’s plot is entirely superflous. Overall though, yeah. It’s a match three puzzler that’s a little different. It has some charm but it is lacking when it comes to addictiveness and while the actual movement of your character is unique to this genre, it doesn’t add anything at all apart from a little clumsiness. On a touchscreen, this could be a tad better. On a PS4, you might wonder why they ever bothered.

  • Simple match-three gameplay
  • No IAP filth
  • A bit different to the usual examples of this genre
  • The arcadey controls aren't that helpful
  • Boss battles aren't much fun
  • Gets pretty samey

It's hard to recommend Castles but there's not much wrong with it either. Ultimately, it comes down to whether or not you want to play a very basic puzzler on your fancy this-gen console. For most of you, the answer there is 'nah, mate, I'm good' but this is an okay game which doesn't do much wrong.

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