In the past couple of years, there hasn’t been enough puzzle games around, and Spanish based WhootGames studios have decided to fix that with a game simply called Castles, a fun with a mix of Match 3 and Columns based titles, complete with an original touch in terms of handling.
The story is set in a cute kingdom led by King Harold who seems to be a little temperamental, and you are a mason who aims to build the biggest tower in the land, only to satisfy the whims of your monarch. Of course, that’s not counting the neighboring ruler King Edmund, who out of jealousy, will do anything to keep you from achieving your King’s dream. And so you’re right in an adventure midway between Match 3 and Column matching gameplay, where your goal will be to build this tower, with a bunch of little side challenges, and even boss matches.
The game mechanics is a fun mix of Match 3, which the goal is to align three identical elements in a column, in the the aim to eliminate the falling bricks before the play screen is completely filled. The board is in the form of a site 7×7 square shape, and you can move around a central 5×5 area where the elements falls from the sky. The first big originality of the game is the duality dimension of each brick, which can be composed of a material (stone, grass, brick, water, wood, sand) but also tools like a hammers, axes, shoves and more, and to get rid of a combination, you’ll have to either combine 3 identical materials or tools.
If you combine more, you’ll get a bonus that allows you to destroy an annoying brick directly, for example, that one lone hammer which stacked with time. The goal of each level is to fulfill the objectives listed on the left side of the screen, such as achieve X combination of sand, clear that many lines of X, etc. Of course, the early challenges will be quite simple with few materials or tools falling from the sky, but when you have to juggle 7 different materials and tools, the game quickly becomes a nightmarish puzzle. On that point, I have to note that at quick sight (and for someone who is partially color blinded), the difference between a hammer and an ax is not so obvious, which causes great frustration.
The second main original aspect of the game is that you do not directly control blocks. To join the chains, your character will have to push them around the left, right, top and bottom squares, which can also push the entire row. Unfortunately, this way of moving items can be difficult to find any logical pattern around it, especially considering that bricks fall from the sky randomly.
In terms of graphics, the visual are quite nice, with some little “toonish” or “Clash of Clans” elements, but nothing groundbreaking on that front. On top of the story mode, you’ll have access to a survival mode where you can challenge yourself to keep on going as long as possible, but also a competitive mode that lets you play against an opponent. In the latter mode, the goal is to survive longer than his opponent, knowing that a combination of 4 or 5 bricks send penalty bricks to the opponent’s board, making his tasks harder.
Castles is an original blend of puzzle games, with a strong base of Match 3, rather well done and that brings freshness. But some aspects are creating a difficult and randomness to the game. In addition, its lack of variation does not favor the trigger that makes it addictive. Result is a nice game in the beginning, but after a few hours leads to fatigue and even nervousness on the player.
Castles was reviewed using an Xbox One downloadable code of the game provided by BadLand Games. The game is also available on PlayStation 4 and PC via online stores. We don’t discuss review scores with publishers or developers prior to the review being published
• A rather original matching game
• Full of good ideas
• Easy to handle
• Too random
• Not extra modes compared to the competition
• A bit repetitive