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Video Game / Castle in the Darkness

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Castle In The Darkness is a Retraux Metroidvania Action-Adventure Platform Game by Matt Kap and Nicalis Inc.

One dark and gloomy night, Elmore II, ruler of the Kingdom of Alexandria, falls ill. Worried for his health, Princess Isabelle rallies the guards to defend the castle. The guards take their positions, not expecting anything more than a simple illness.

Only, what came next was more than just an illness.

The Kingdom of Alexandria is beset upon by an army of monsters. The guards fought valiantly to drive them off, but alas, they were the ones to fall instead.

All but one.

Now he alone must save the kingdom from this menace.

The game was released on February 5th, 2015.

Castle In The Darkness contains examples of:

  • Badass Adorable: The hero himself, who despite being one of the castle guard, looks like a little child in tiny armor, completely dwarfed by even the most basic of enemies, yet single-handedly faces down the monsters that wiped out his fellow guardsmen.
  • Bait-and-Switch Boss: In the Sunken Temple, there is an optional Underwater Boss Battle. At first, the player faces an orange Sushy, only for it to be eaten by a Threatening Shark...and then a shark gets eaten by Donamazu, the actual boss of the location.
  • Ballistic Bone:
  • Bewitched Amphibians:
    • Referenced in the Frog Knight's imagine spot; he wants to win Princess Isabelle's love so that they would kiss...and that the princess would turn into the frog as well, allowing them to be in a relationship.
    • According to the side materials (such as Steam Trading Card description), the Frog Knight himself is actually an Amnesiac Hero who was turned into a humanoid frog by the interrupted magic ritual meant to turn him into a regular frog.
  • BFG: An odd take on this one as it's your character who's remarkably tiny, making all the swords he wields BFG's in comparison.
  • Big Bad: The Dark Sorcerer is the owner of the titular castle and the mastermind behind the monsters attacking Alexandria. He's actually King Elmore II, possessed by the darkness, with the true villain being the Demon King, who plots to return into the world of the living and drown the world in the darkness.
  • Black Bead Eyes: The Player Character, as well as a large number of NPCs in the game, have their eyes composed of like, 2-3 black pixels.
  • Blue Is Heroic: The Player Character is a knight in light blue armor fighting an army of invading monsters.
  • Body of Bodies: Numb Flesh, an Optional Boss fought in the Torture Chamber, is a massive humanoid made up of multiple human bodies, some of which fall off to attack the hero when the creature receives damage.
  • Classical Cyclops: An Optional Boss of the Castle Entrance that guards the Mermaid Statue is the Cyclops, a giant green cycloptic creature wearing the caveman pelt and armed with a bone that it can throw like a boomerang. It can also spit out two green slime balls to attack.
  • Collapsing Lair: Once the Final Boss of either ending is defeated, the castle starts falling apart. In the Bad Ending, the hero escapes with Princess Isabelle on Razor Wing, while in the Golden Ending, the hero is too late to escape, but Princess Isabelle and Razor Wing save him at the most crucial moment.
  • Damsel in Distress: Played with, as the missing Princess Isabelle sets up the plot with the hero thinking she was kidnapped and is in need of rescuing. Subverted fairly early on when it's shown in the Cave of Serpents that she's taken up a bow and is planning an assault on the castle to find her missing father.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Once the hero defeats Ruth in her house, she apologizes for her Disproportionate Retribution and even helps him to enchant the White Orb should he bring it to her, which is necessary for the Golden Ending.
  • Dem Bones: Skeletons frequently appear as enemies in the game in different varieties. There are bone-throwing Arreys, their King Mook counterpart Mr. Arrey, and Red Arreys that explode in the pile of damaging bones upon death. There are also Skeleton Hunters that wield rifles to shoot the player with. There are Spear Knights, armored skeletons who jab the player with their spears, and the Skull Knights, skeletons clad in black armor who attack with their swords, with some using spears instead. In the House of Ruth, there are horned skeletons who attack by conjuring a flame in front of themselves after swinging with their swords. The first Optional Boss of the Torture Chamber is Bone Dragon, a flying serpentine skeletal dragon with its red tail tip being a weak spot.
  • Demonic Possession: The Dark Sorcerer is actually King Elmore II, possessed by the darkness and forced to do the Demon King's bidding.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Ruth, a witch who lives in the House of Ruth, threatens to steal the Player Character's soul and make him her slave simply because he trespassed in her home. Cue the boss fight. She does mellow out and apologizes for her temper after defeat, however.
  • Evil Sorcerer: The Big Bad of the game is the Dark Sorcerer, a powerful wizard and the mastermind behind the monster attacks.
  • Evil Twin: In the Sorcerer's Quarters, the Player Character faces his evil doppelganger, known as the Nemesis, clad in dark armor and possessing red eyes. He attacks by stabbing with sword when the player comes close and by throwing axes, and can use the magic attack where he spawns four magic sparks around himself that turn into pillars of light.
  • Feathered Fiend: One enemy type is birds who fly at the player's direction. In Alexandria, it's blue Sparrons. In Agros Forest, it's brown Falcons.
  • Fireballs: The first spell the Player Character learns is launching a fireball at the short distance.
  • Foreshadowing: In the House of Ruth, there is a swooping ghost that can only be damaged with magic attacks. The same applies to the level's first boss.
  • Frog Men: The Frog Knight is a humanoid frog who appears twice as a mid-boss, opposing the hero due to seeing him as a rival standing between him and Princess Isabelle's affections. He even appears to clash with the hero in the Golden Ending credits, eating the dual popsicle intended for him and the princess, only to get beaten down again.
  • Generic Doomsday Villain: Nothing much is known about the Demon King, the true Big Bad of the game, other than his motivation to resurrect himself and drown the world in the darkness. He appears to exist solely to explain the Dark Sorcerer's true nature as a possessed King and provide the ultimate threat that stands between the player and the true ending.
  • Giggling Villain: The Dark Sorcerer constantly emits high-pitched squeaky giggles during his fight, namely at the beginning and during his lightning attack.
  • The Goomba: Zombies serve as the most basic enemies in the game, being easy to kill, moving very slowly and their only way to attack is inflicting fairly-low Collision Damage. The actual Goomba expies, called Gumheads, serve as middle-game enemies instead, and are quite tougher than enemies encountered before, though they are still relatively weaker compared to most enemies encountered in the same area, and once the player obtains the Spiked Cleets, they outright become completely harmless.
  • Goomba Stomp: Once the hero gets the Spiked Cleets, he becomes able to instantly kill Gumheads (which are creatures modelled after Goombas) by jumping on their heads.
  • Harping on About Harpies: Harpienote  appears as an Optional Boss in the Agros Forest. She attacks by dropping on the player from above and by firing feathers at the player.
  • Healing Checkpoint: Save Points instantly restore your HP to maximum, even if you don't save.
  • Heart Container: Defeating a boss gets you a boss heart that increases your maximum HP.
  • An Ice Person:
  • Inexplicable Treasure Chest: There are treasure chests scattered throughout the game that you can get money and other treasures from. They come in a variety of colors.
  • Inexplicably Preserved Dungeon Meat: One of the items you can find in the Castle Entrance is the Chicken Dinner, found inside the breakable wall, which increases the player's max HP by 2. Lampshaded by its description, which asks "Who put this here?".
  • Intentional Engrish for Funny: The first unlockable weapon in the game is called the Wrong Sword, an intentional "Japanese mistranslation" of the name "Long Sword".
  • King Mook: Several bosses in the game are simply boss versions of the regular enemies the player faces.
    • Mr. Arrey is a giant Arrey that behaves just like his smaller counterparts, running around and throwing bones.
    • Armor Shell, found in the Cave of Serpents, is a giant counterpart to S. Shells, hermit crab-esque enemies. It can even drop them down the ceiling during its fight.
    • Blood Rose is the boss version of the same-named enemies, being a giant plant that fires red projectiles from its four mouths.
    • Donamazu is the boss counterpart of Sushys. It can even summon orange Sushys to assist it during the fight.
    • Inverted with Camillo, the first boss in the game, as its smaller regular mook counterparts are not faced until the Windy Ruins, where they attack simply by firing three crystal orbs down.
  • Living Statue: According to the pre-release blog post, the General, the last boss encountered in Alexandria, is an animate statue of a deceased knight from Alexandria's past. Before the battle, he was shown to be brought to life with a lightning, with the colorless statue now gaining color and becoming aggressive, trying to kill the main protagonist.
  • Lizard Folk: Blue lizardmen appear as stronger enemies in the Cave of Serpents. According to one NPC, they took over the cave which formerly served as a mine for Alexandria.
  • Lock and Key Puzzle: There are a number of locked doors in the game for which you need to find the key.
  • Magic Knight: Before even exiting the first area, the town of Alexandria, the Player Character will be given the ability to use magic in addition to his sword. New spells are hidden in various chests throughout the game.
  • Man-Eating Plant:
    • A recurring enemy is a Vampire Plant, a flytrap-esque plant that constantly tries to chomp the player. It's immobile and dies in one hit.
    • The end boss of Agros Forest is a giant carnivorous plant called Flesh Eater that is actually seen eating the human alive, spitting out his bloodied bones at the player, and it attacks by spitting seeds that grow into damaging vines, or biting the hero should he come too close to it.
  • The Many Deaths of You: The 'Game Over' screen includes a Death Counter that keeps track of how many times you die.
  • Monster Compendium: One of the unlockables available in New Game Plus is the Book of Monsters, a Mini-Game which pits you against 60 monsters in the game and also doubles as the in-game bestiary, listing the enemies' names. Though, not all monsters are featured in the book (such as saracen-like enemies in the House of Ruth, giant blue snakes in Sunken Temple, or zombie chicken things in the Windy Ruins and the Sorcerer's Quarters).
  • Multiple Endings: Taking inspiration from its Metroidvania cousins, the game has two endings.
    • Bad Ending — The hero makes it through the castle to find Princess Isabelle defeated by the Dark Sorcerer and no longer convinced of her father's survival. The hero then battles the Dark Sorcerer and kills him. The castle collapses, with the hero and Isabelle escaping on Razor Wing, and the end tells that the king was never found or heard from again.
    • Golden Ending — After finding the White Orb and getting the witch Ruth to enchant it after her boss battle, the hero instead finds Isabelle defeated like before, but this time she has her father's pendant and is convinced he's still alive. The hero then uses it in the battle with the Dark Sorcerer to reveal he IS the king. After using the White Orb to purify him of his possession, the hero faces the true threat, the Demon King, and defeats him. The castle collapses, and the hero nearly falls to his doom, but Isabelle and Razor Wing catch him midair, saving his life in the nick of time.
  • New Game Plus: Achieving the 100% Completion allows the player to start the New Game+, which possesses more secrets, items and weapons to unlock, including an ability to play as the Frog Knight.
  • Nintendo Hard: While this game never truly descends into Platform Hell, the enemies are cleverly placed, as are the traps, making it all too easy for careless players to rush to their deaths.
  • Oculothorax: Some enemies (like Flouse, a pinkish-red flying eyeball creature) and bosses (like Camillo) have a body that's composed of a giant eyeball.
  • Ominous Owl: A recurring Optional Boss in the game is a giant owl named Razor Wing. Though, in both endings, it's revealed that Princess Isabelle managed to tame it, and it's used as an escape steed in the bad ending, and saves the hero's life in the Golden Ending.
  • Orcus on His Throne: The Dark Sorcerer does not directly impede the heroes' progress, relying on his monsters to do the job, and simply waits in his personal chambers for the hero's arrival. The Demon King that possesses him doesn't do much better, as he just sits on his throne even when fighting the hero, never even bothering to get up.
  • Playing with Fire: The first magic spell you get lets you charge and launch a fireball. In the House of Ruth, you learn another fiery spell called Explosion Fire that lets you fire a sphere that produces a fiery explosion in the form of orbiting particles.
  • Post-Defeat Explosion Chain: Defeated bosses explode all over while spouting coins, then burst into a ring of sparkles.
  • Recurring Boss:
    • The Frog Knight is fought twice in the game; the first time in the Agros Forest, and the second time in the Grand Hall. In the latter appearance, he ends up being more difficult than in the first fight, having donned a new suit of armor and wielding the Rune Sword, increasing his health and damage, and his bubble attack became much more direct and damaging. He also gains ability to absorb magic attacks to power his unique attack.
    • Razor Wing also has two Optional Boss fights in the game. The first time, it's fought at the Clock Tower after the player gets the Chain Mail, and the second time it's fought in the Grand Hall, where, after you defeat it, you can obtain the Gale Cutter spell.
  • Reference Overdosed: The game is filled to brim with references to other games of the 8-bit and 16-bit era, such as Castlevania, The Legend of Zelda, and etc.
  • Retraux: The game is done in 8-bit style, with 8-bit sounds and music.
  • Save Point: The save points take the form of angelic statues holding a giant blue gem. At them, you can either save your game, or equip new weapons.
  • Save the Princess: Princess Isabelle went missing, so it's up to the hero to rescue her. Subverted early in the game, because she was never kidnapped, but instead she took up a bow and went on her own adventure to rescue her father.
  • Shout-Out: This game loves to reference many others, with artwork, names, enemies, and even certain weapons shouting out to its forebears.
  • Side View: How the game's viewed.
  • Sole Survivor: The Player Character is the only guard who survives the monster attack on Alexandria.
  • Spikes of Doom: There are spikes that will hurt the knight, including ones that drop and kill him instantly, as well as ones that extend and retract from the floor.
  • Superboss: The game has two extraordinarily difficult bosses whose defeat allows the player to obtain the strongest weapon and magic in the game.
    • X, the enigmatic dimensional guardian, can be fought only in the Crystal Tower, which is very difficult to bring forth and requires a hidden item to summon it, and he can be fought only after defeating two other difficult optional bosses. And he doesn't pull any punches; X possesses an One-Hit KO attack and summons many projectiles that can be very difficult to dodge. He also has a second phase where his head detaches from his body to bounce around the arena and inflict Collision Damage, and fire down a devastating laser beam that inflicts tons of damage to the player, and considering that his head floats around everywhere, it would be very hard for the player to hit it. After defeat, he bestows X-Sword, the strongest magic in the game, upon the player before disappearing.
    • Appolyon, a giant Eldritch Abomination with crab-like shell that can be fought only on optional path in Sorcerer's Quarters, possesses lots of health, can fire either many blocks from below the arena or a laser that requires a precisely timed double-jump to dodge, and summon a group of bug-like flunkies. After that, it reveals its fleshy, winged, cycloptic core that fires bullets in 8 directions and needs to be attacked to damage the boss. Once the player depletes its health, it feigns defeat before revealing its second phase where the core separates itself from the body to attack the player. It attacks faster than usual, can fly around and frequently summon bug-like servants, and is vulnerable only to magical attacks, but can be attacked at any time. After its defeat, the player can obtain Castael, the sword of light, and the strongest weapon in the game.
  • Super Not-Drowning Skills: Though the Player Character can't swim until he obtains the Mermaid Statue, he can still remain underwater for indefinite period of time.
  • Suspiciously Cracked Wall: Several walls are covered in cracks. They can be destroyed to reveal hidden paths, rooms or treasure.
  • Temporary Platform: Both crumbling blocks and Mega Man style Yoku Blocks show up here.
  • Tennis Boss:
    • Camillo, the first boss of the game, can be beaten by deflecting its attacks back at it. An NPC even gives you a clue about it before the encounter.
    • Defender, the boss of the Windy Ruins, can be beaten only by deflecting its crystal orb attacks back at it. This is the only way to destroy it; attempting to attack its eye would do nothing.
  • Troll: Hilariously enough, there's a somewhat difficult to find sword and armor actually called "Troll Sword" and "Troll Armor", meant to be a joke as getting them involves falling down a pit into the side-chamber with no way out but to fall into the spikes at the bottom of the pit, resulting in continuing from the last save point without the equipment.
  • True Final Boss: Once the player obtains the White Orb and has Ruth enchant it, it gets revealed that the Dark Sorcerer is actually the possessed King. Once he's purified of the darkness, the true villain, the Demon King, is fought as the final boss of the game.
  • Underground Monkey: Several enemies possess harder counterparts with different colors, which have more health and have some behavioral changes. For example, in Agros Forest, Zombies are replaced with the Rotting Zombies, who spawn maggots after death, while Arreys are replaced with Red Arreys that blow apart into damaging bones once they're killed.
  • Underwater Boss Battle: Donamazu, one of two Optional Bosses of the Sunken Temple, is fought entirely underwater.
  • Victory by Endurance: In the Golden Ending route, the player must not fight the Dark Sorcerer. Instead, they must wait until the White Orb purifies him of the darkness that possessed him, dodging his attacks all the while.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: The General, an end-boss of Alexandria, marks the moment when the game stops pulling any punches against the player. It's got very large hitbox (including the sword), can be damaged only by being attacked into its face, preferrably with a Fireball (which requires you to constantly hop up on the platform in front of it), and its sword swing attack takes up a lot of range, also bringing down a block from ceiling at the player. And to prevent the player from cheesing it by constantly standing on the block in front of it, it can fire a beam from its eyes to force the player to hop down. To make matters worse, it constantly comes closer, meaning that if the player stays idle for too long, there will be no room to dodge its sword attack. All of this means the player has to put quite an effort into their strategy to beat it, thus clearly marking the Nintendo Hard tone of the game.
  • Waterfront Boss Battle: Leviathan, one of two Optional Bosses of the Sunken Temple, is fought over a water current that constantly pushes the player backwards towards instakilling Spikes of Doom.
  • Warm-Up Boss: The first three bosses in the game (Camillo, Bubble Dragon, and Mr. Arrey) have simplistic attack patterns that are easy to avoid, and can be beaten fairly quickly, merely serving as a warm-up for what the rest of the game has prepared for the player.
  • You Have Researched Breathing: You need to find the Mermaid Statue in order to be able to swim, though this could be handwaved as it allowing you to swim in your armor.