You play Jonathon Miller, and one day you wake up in the courtyard of a massive castle with seemingly no exits. Your only clue is an invitation in your pocket, inviting you to visit "Castle Red." Soon, Jonathon finds others- Howard, Norbert Gray, Peter Jones, Cecilia Harper, Helena Albescu, and Sister Agnes Pendleton- in a similar predicament, and everyone attempts to work together to find a way out of the castle. As you investigate, you find a number of references to a cult dedicated to the worship of worms.
Unfortunately, things don't go well, and soon everyone is separated. And that's when things get bad.
The game can be downloaded here.
A sequel, titled Castle Red 2: Subservience, is currently in development. Its official RMN page can be found here.
Castle Red provides examples of:
- Abusive Parents: A doctor's note, along with some off-handed comments by Cecilia, indicate that her father was one of these.
- All There in the Manual: Most of the character's backstories are revealed in the in-game documents rather than in the main plot.
- Arc Words: "Praise be" is said in reference to the godlike worms that are worshipped.
- Bee Afraid: Large wasps are an enemy in the Hanging Gardens. They are extremely fast and can't be killed, but they thankfully deal very little damage.
- Big Bad: The Lord of Castle Red, A.K.A. Howard, wants to sacrifice the trapped visitors to the godlike worms in exchange for more power.
- Bizarchitecture: The layout of the castle makes little sense. Bedrooms and hallways are laid out haphazardly. The Hanging Gardens appear to be built on towers high above the rest of the castle. Towers can't be accessed from the ground floor, etc. Lampshaded in a conversation with Howard at one point. The implication is that the worms warp time and space by their presence, and so the castle doesn't play by normal rules.
- Bloody Tears: The first symptom of worm infestation. If Howard and the B ending are any indication, it is not permanent.
- Body Horror: Most of the enemies are humans who have been infested with worms, and they have become horribly deformed zombies as a result.
- Closed Circle: There is no way out of Castle Red.
- Container Maze: The Basement, the Dungeons, and a few other places as well.
- Dialogue Tree: The player controls everything Jonathon says to other characters, which means that nearly every conversation contains one of these. Your choices affect how the other characters perceive Jonathon, which in turn affects the ending.
- Dirty Coward: Norbert is terrified of everything, including Jonathon, who is forced to kill him in self-defense.
- The Dog Bites Back: Heavily implied as Margaery's motivation for going after the Lord. She's angry at how he mistreated her and the other servants.
- Eldritch Abomination: The worms.
- Eternal Engine: The Machine Tower.
- Evil All Along: Howard, the leader of the kidnapped group and the one who is doing everything in his power to help them all escape, is actually the Lord of the Castle who brought them here in the first place to sacrifice them.
- Eye Scream: Some foes appear to be missing eyes, and a puzzle in the final area of the game requires the player to remove an eye from a corpse.
- FaceHeel Turn: Cecilia about a third of the way through the game. Also Agnes in the "Lost and Damned" ending.
- Giant Spider: Jonathon must sneak past a pair at one point.
- Hardboiled Detective: Apparently Peter's backstory.
- Inspector Javert: Peter takes on elements of this trope later on, when he grows to suspect that Jonathon is more involved in what's going on than he's let on.
- Killed Offscreen: Helena. You find the corpse after the fact.
- Klingon Promotion: Partially how Lords of the Castle are chosen. The worms bring a number of individuals together for a Trial, and they must kill each other. Whoever's left becomes the new Lord, and the previous Lord is always a participant.
- The Leader: Howard steps up to fill this role among the people trapped in the castle
- Manipulative Bastard: The Lord of the Castle, a.k.a. Howard. He rigged the Trial of the Worm in order to ensure that no one but him knew what was going on, then sat back and started toying with the others and forcing them to suffer and turn on each other for no other reason than that he could. The only reason Howard is exposed is because Margaery starts cluing people into what's really going on.
- The Maze: The Hedge Maze, a huge and confusing maze that's also full of random and bizarre images.
- The Mole: Peter suspects someone in the group is one, specifically Jonathon. He's wrong. Howard, however, turns out to be the Castle's Lord.
- Multiple Endings: Six in total:
- Ending F: Eternal Love: Johnathan accepts the work-infested Cecilias offer to become the king of the castle alongside her.
- Ending E: Lost and Damned: Sister Agnes finally snaps and kills Jonathon.
- Ending D: Revenge of the Maid: If Jonathon teams up with Margary and kills Howard, she becomes the new Lord and sets him free after all the others have died.
- Nuns Are Spooky: Averted. One of the other characters trapped in the castle is a nun called Sister Agnes. She's actually one of the friendlier characters. Played straight in Ending E: "Lost and Damned," in which Agnes snaps and murders Jonathon.
- The Ophelia: Margaery.
- Paranoia Fuel: Invoked. Early in the game, Jonathon is forced to kill another character in self-defense. Almost immediately afterward, you have a choice of coming clean to the others, lying to them, or telling them some kind of half-truth. Regardless of what you choose, there will be consequences later on, and Peter eventually uses the murder as justification of his suspicions toward you.
- Parasite Zombie: Most of the common enemies are humans infested with the worms. According to Margaery, certain rare individuals can retain control of themselves and enter a more mutualistic relationship with them.
- Red Herring: The Invitations. They were planted on the characters by Howard in order to obfuscate the true reason they were brought to the Castle.
- Savage Wolves: A wolf pack comes out of nowhere and chases Jonathon for a bit when he reaches the end of the Hedge Maze.
- Spanner in the Works: The Big Bad did not plan for the presence of Margaery.
- Stealth-Based Game: Since Jonathon can't fight enemies, you are forced to sneak past them.
- Surreal Horror: Elements of this appear throughout the game, as a result of the worms warping space and time. However, special mention goes to the Hanging Gardens and especially the Hedge Maze.
- Survival Horror
- Time Travel: Not explicit, but the invitations indicate that each character is from a completely different decade.
- The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: Depending on the ending, there are three possible areas that serve as the final dungeon: The Machine Tower, the Basement, or the Caverns. The Caverns are this trope; not only are they the last area of the game, but they are full of bizarre puzzles and alien terrain.
- The Worm That Walks: The cloaked enemies in the caverns during the endgame reveal themselves as these after taking damage.