If you’ve been looking for some entertaining puzzle gameplay, but coming to the sad conclusion that it might just be an itch you’re unable to scracth…I might be able to help you out. Introducing Hiive Game’s Creatures & Castles. Originally developed for smartphones (I believe it made its debut on iOS) Creatures & Castles follows a very simple premise.You’re a kid who snuck out of their parents place in the dead of night to steal treasure. There is a castle. It contains treasure. You want that treasure. You’re not in the habit of asking nicely though- and in the case of this castle, it probably wouldn’t do a whole lot of good anyway.
What follows is a mildly entertaining- and, at times, somewhat challenging- puzzle game.
In Creatures & Castles, you control either Timmy or Susie. There is, to my knowledge, absolutely no difference between the two characters, aside from their appearance. The goal is to guide them to the treasure in each room, and then to the exit- often-but not always- right beside the treasure. You do this by drawing a path for them to follow, then clicking on them so they follow it. At any time, you can stop their movement- but doing so cancels the move. The goal is to get to the treasure in as few steps- and using as few powers- as possible.
Now, here’s where it gets complicated.
See, this castle happens to be rife with guards- knights, priests, and wizards- who don’t particularly appreciate you stealing their loot. What’s more, traps abound throughout the place, and in many cases you might need to use a bomb or other such implement to clear a path. Don’t worry, though- you gain magic powers in later levels to help facilitate Timmy or Susie’s escape- with everything in the castle that wasn’t nailed down, naturally. A lot of the game eventually boils down to knowing exactly when to start your character along the path you’ve chosen- too early or late, and they might fall victim to one of the castle’s traps or denizens. There are 64 different stages to choose from, each one more difficult than the last- you know the drill by now.
It’s a rather simple concept, and I daresay it’s rather brilliantly executed.
Game Mechanics: 5/5
The game’s simple- move the mouse to draw a path- note that there needs to be an unbroken line between one point and another. Left clicking on the character sets them along the created path, and clicking them again stops them from moving any further. Right clicking undoes your last action- you can do this as many times as you please, right back to the beginning of the level. A particularly nice touch is that you can hold down the right mouse button to eventually erase the entire path you drew out.
Though it’s pretty clear the game was designed for a touch screen, they did a rather excellent job of porting it over to Chrome. My one gripe is that it can occasionally be difficult to set exactly the path you want- you can only move the character in straight lines, so zig-zagging…requires a lot of clicks. A minor issue; one which can be chalked up to the fact that the game’s being run on a platform it wasn’t designed for.
Gotta say, this is a rather visually impressive game. The characters look good, their animations are dead on, spell animations are just flashy enough that they impress without irritating…There’s not much else to say here. To be honest, I find the style very remniscent of the sprite sheets Enterbrain uses in their RPG maker series. Specifically, they resemble the graphics from RPG Maker XP. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. And while this graphical style may not be everyone’s cup of tea; I personally think it gives the game a certain charm. Hey; to each their own, I suppose.
The main theme song for Castles & Creatures is subtle, quiet, and slightly foreboding- in other words, the perfect music to plunder by. The brass ‘game over’ music(coupled with the sinister laugh when you’re caught by an opponent) is also a nice touch. Ultimately, I found nothing to complain about as far as Castles & Creatures’ soundtrack was concerned. If it’s not to your liking, you can turn down the sound, the music, or both from the options menu in the top right.
Final Score: 5/5
If you’re a fan of puzzle games; chances are you’ll enjoy Creatures & Castles. It’s blend of a simple interface with often deceptively complex game mechanics is, at the core, the same sort of thing which made Angry Birds as popular as it is. Granted, Castles & Creatures is a rather different beast from Rovio’s smash hit- and at the very least, it could prove a nice diversion if you’re tired of flinging rage-filled avians at pigs.
You can download Castles & Creatures for free from the Chrome Web Store. Enjoy.