Castle of Heart: A Fresh Take On Retro Platforming

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Released exclusively for Nintendo Switch, Castle of Heart is a 2.5D side-scrolling platformer starring a brave knight plagued by an evil sorcerer’s spell, which has turned its targets to stone. Although the sorcerer had intended to affect everyone in the knight’s village, the knight protected his lover from the spell’s reach, and though she was spared, she was taken captive. The knight’s lover wept when she was carried away, and one single tear fell on the knight’s stone body, reviving him slightly and awakening his life force. As a result, the knight can move if he has enough energy, and he gets his energy from killing enemies. Take control of our hero knight as you slay enemies, avoid obstacles, and navigate 20 levels spread across 4 distinct areas inspired by Slavic mythology and real locations in Poland.

Castle of Heart stars a knight turned to stone, set against a backdrop inspired by Slavic mythology.
Castle of Heart stars a knight turned to stone, set against a backdrop inspired by Slavic mythology.

Castle of Heart focuses on tough platforming, tricky combat, and quasi-runner elements, and you need to keep a close eye on your energy gauge as you play. Your energy depletes with time, and it drops quite rapidly whenever you take damage. When your energy runs particularly low, you’ll lose an arm (and the ability to use a secondary weapon), and if your gauge drops much more after that, your body will crumble into a pile of stones. For this reason, energy is key, so you need to slay a good deal of enemies and pick up any energy-replenishing potions you may find. Also look out for well-hidden collectible crystals called “Heart Pieces,” which expand your energy gauge, and keep in mind that checkpoints, which are included in each level, replenish energy as well.

You can see our knight has lost an arm. Try not to let that happen!
You can see our knight has lost an arm. Try not to let that happen!

You’ll play through 20 long levels split into smaller chapters, with each new level offering fresh combat opportunities and new platforming challenges. Platforming in Castle of Heart features traditional mechanics, like swinging ropes, moving platforms, and crumbling surfaces, but the physics are quite different from most platformers because your jumps are slow and stunted. We think this is because you’re a knight who’s been turned to stone, and any stone creature would be quite heavy and slow as a jumper—but of course, it’s possible that the lagging jumps are a latency issue. Either way, it works, and you’ll get used to it with time. You’ll find that quick thinking and precise jumps are often required, and you might die often. If you learn from mistakes, you’ll be just fine, but if you get frustrated with frequent deaths, you might not be patient enough for Castle of Heart.

You'll often be required to use quick-thinking skills, so do your best!
You’ll often be required to use quick-thinking skills, so do your best!

Combat is simple and straightforward. Your basic weapon is your trusty sword, but you’ll find secondary weapons hidden in special locations and dropped by fallen enemies. Secondary weapons include crossbows, axes, and throwing spears, but these items have limited uses, and they’ll break or run out of ammo after a while. Sub-weapons like bombs are available as well, and these items come in handy when a traditional weapon can’t get the job done. As you progress, you’ll face increasingly challenging situations, and once you’ve passed the halfway mark, you’re in for a real challenge with the boss fights, even if you’re a seasoned player.

This game's boss fights are particularly challenging.
This game’s boss fights are particularly challenging.

Castle of Heart’s gorgeous graphics feature detailed people and creatures set against changing landscapes and varying weather conditions, and the game’s overall aesthetic is directly inspired by Slavic mythology. In fact, some locations are modeled after actual locations in Poland, the developers’ motherland. At the same time, Castle of Heart’s graphics draw influence from classic fantasy/action platformers, so you get a classic feel with the perfect amount of novelty.

Castle of Heart's graphics are truly top-notch.
Castle of Heart’s graphics are truly top-notch.

While its graphics are awesome, this game’s sound is nothing to write home about. The sounds that come from barrels smashing, bombs exploding, and swords clinking are a bit dull, but they do add to the overall experience. What detracts from the experience, though, are the grunts of enemies, which aren’t varied and get stale quickly. But there’s a little bright spot on the horizon of Castle of Heart’s sound, and it really is little: it’s the tiny speaker in your official Nintendo Switch controller, which emits cool little sounds to accompany instances that warrant HD rumble!

This game's sound is nothing to write home about . . . but just look at those graphics!
This game’s sound is nothing to write home about . . . but just look at those graphics!

Castle of Heart offers a fresh, fun, and challenging experience, and fans of classic-style platforming will likely enjoy it. We like the game’s difficulty, and we love how its unique physics add to the challenge. But is Castle of Heart a must-own indie platformer for Switch? We don’t think so—but if you’re a hardcore fan of the genre and have already played most of the great platformers available on Switch, Castle of Heart will present you with a unique challenge.

Check out Castle of Heart if you're into the medieval European aesthetic and unique challenge.
Check out Castle of Heart if you’re into the medieval European aesthetic and unique challenge.

Platform – Nintendo Switch eShop Download
Publisher – 7Levels
Developer – 7Levels
Price – $14.99
Genre – Platformer, Action, Adventure
Size – 2.3 GB

 

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