Castle of No Escape 2 from Publisher Xitilon and Developer D. E. X. Team
A retro styled rouge-lite dungeon crawler and a solid improvement from the first game. A little short but enjoyable with a simple story.
This, like the previous game, is a Rogue-lite Dungeon Crawler with a 6×6 grid of rooms on each floor and 6 floors to explore.
Castle of No Escape 2 is more than just a sequel by number. It’s got a lot of great additions and improvements from the first one. The graphics have been updated adding new character models, backgrounds, and enemies while keeping the pixel art style. The chip tunes soundtrack has also been updated with new songs that add to the haunted castle atmosphere.
A story has been added to the game along with an intro explaining what is happening and why you are going into the castle. The story is a little short but does a good job setting the mood for your adventure.
The rooms are now massive compared to the first game. You can and will have to move through the rooms fighting off enemies, opening chests, and avoiding traps. The look of the rooms reminded us of the dungeons from The Legend of Zelda on NES. The enemies are able to move and will chase you around trying to kill you. There are a handful of different enemy types each with their own attack patterns and some of them have powers. After a little bit you will be able to figure out the enemies’ attacks and the best way to avoid them. Opening the chests comes with a bit of risk as enemies can hide in the chests and pop out when you open them.
There are several new additions to the game over its predecessor. You have 3 characters to pick from at the start with 3 more unlockable if you meet the secret requirements for them. Each of the characters has their own attributes like the first game but unlike the first game they play very differently as they have their own attacks. This was a great improvement to the game as it makes you want to try each of the characters to see which one will best fit your play style.
Some of the new mechanics in this game are fire pits that can damage you and ice on the floor that causes your character to slide around. They also expanded the in-game economy to include gambling. You can use your coins on a slot machine or play the shell game (like 3 card monty but with a ball under shells). There is still the same shopkeeper from the first game that you can purchase potions from and they added a second merchant who will sell them cheaper (if you can find him). You can also find a blacksmith to upgrade your armor.
It is still a rogue-lite game so dying will make you start over with nothing. The Castle is randomly generated which does make the exploration feel unique each time you enter.
They put in a lot of effort to capture that retro look and feel throughout the game. There is an old school password system that allows you to start with higher gear and some of the artifacts already collected. They also have a game manual that you can access from the options. The manual is great and for those who remember the old game manuals; it really captures that nostalgic feeling.
Castle of No Escape 2 is available on Xbox, Nintendo Switch and Steam. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
Castle of No Escape from Publisher Xitilon and Developer D. E. X. Team
Minimalistic but fun retro styled rouge-lite dungeon crawler. Pretty standard fare but enjoyable nonetheless.
A Rogue-lite Dungeon Crawler
You start on the first floor of a mysterious castle. It has a top down view of a 6×6 grid. You move around the grid trying to find stairs to access the next floor. There are a total of 6 floors you can explore. All of the rooms on the floor are covered with questions marks making it a surprise for what could be hidden under it. You discover what is in them when your character moves over the room. While exploring you will come across monsters, books (some of which can curse you), chests, artifacts, and a shopkeeper. Each of the artifacts you collect will give you a buff that will help you explore the castle (warning: if you die, you will lose all of your buffs and have to start over from the beginning).
When you run into an enemy you have a few choices, you can fight the enemy using your weapons and magic, or flee. This adds a little bit of risk vs reward element since killing the enemy can reward you with coins but the risk of dying carries a steep penalty. Some of the enemies will attack you as soon as they see you. This can be a little frustrating in the beginning since running into a few enemies in a row can end your game fast.
Like most Rogue-lite games once you die you will start over at the beginning with everything in new random places and none of the upgrades you had previously acquired. The loading time between each of the games is very fast and after you die you will be back to playing in seconds.
There are 3 characters to choose from. Each has their own attributes. These are easy to read and understand by pressing the listed trigger or bumper button. There is a bonus 4th character that you can select by pressing the other unlisted trigger/bumper. However, since the 4th character is hidden you are unable to see their attributes before selecting it. Sadly all of the characters play the same way. They are just a skin and attribute change with identical attacks and spells.
You can purchase potions to refill your Strength, Intelligence, or Dexterity from the shopkeeper using the coins you find. We suggest using your coins on the strength potions as they will keep you alive longer.
They also introduce a light mechanic to reveal some of the rooms around you. This helps you avoid enemies or find valuables on the floor. The primary method for this mechanic comes in the form of flares. Keep in mind you have a limited amount of flares and can easily run out of them. Luckily, you can find replacement flares in some of the rooms. If you are really lucky you will find the lantern which does the same thing as the flares but without having to consume them.
Sadly there is little to no story in the game. You need to collect the elements before the Demon Nikolai finds them and destroys the world. It’s a little reminiscent of Thanos’ Infinity Gauntlet since the boss has a large gauntlet on and is trying to collect 5 stones.
Castle of No Escape is available on Xbox, Nintendo Switch, Steam and Windows. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
This review is based on a Preview copy of the game that was provided to us for the purpose of reviewing the game. The final version may have differences from what we experienced.
Don’t Die, Minerva! From Xaviant
A Rogue-lite, twin stick shooter, with RPG elements.
You play as a little girl named Minerva along with her stuffed animal companion, who finds a group of haunted houses. You have to make your way through 3 different buildings, clearing the rooms by defeating evil ghosts, collecting gold, and stopping the Master who is the boss character on the top floor of each of the buildings.
The game has a Luigi’s Mansion feel with the way you go into the rooms to clear out the enemies by using light. The primary difference is that here you aren’t vacuuming up the enemies.
The gameplay is pretty simple and becomes a little repetitive as there is no story element included at the time of this writing. Once you complete the game you are able to replay it on a harder difficulty while keeping all of the upgrades you unlocked during your first playthrough (New Game+).
They made an unusual choice with the soundtrack. There is only music while the enemies are on screen after that it fades away and you are left with nothing but the sound effects of your character walking around. The musical selections seemed incongruous. Sometimes it was what one would expect it to be, a little eerie and combat appropriate, while other times it was upbeat and just felt weird.
One of the most fun mechanics is the stuffed animal companions. They were a lot of fun to use, had good variety in their area attacks, and were my weapon of choice simply because of how much I enjoyed using them. They do have a cooldown period but it’s fairly quick to recharge, especially with the right upgrades.
They’ve also combined stamina and mana together into one gauge so dodging/rolling and attacking with your stuffed animal of choice or flashlight will all deplete your blue energy bar. Fortunately your energy regenerates automatically. Your health, however, does not. But they do give enough health pickups as well as energy boosters throughout the levels to help keep you moving in the right direction.
You get loot drops from defeating enemies and looting chests or breakable items. You also have the option to purchase items from the store; more on that a little later. You can use these items to swap out your flashlight, equipment, and stuffed animal companion for more powerful versions. Each item has base abilities/powers and the option to add a stone to add an elemental damage attribute. They also have a rarity mechanic that keeps things interesting and almost scratches that “loot collecting” itch of always trying to find better and more powerful loot. If you do an excessive (some might say obsessive) degree of looting and upgrading you might feel a little overpowered at some stages but it’s absolutely required in order to be successful against some of the more powerful enemies you encounter in later levels.
Each of the buildings has its own groups of enemies that you will kill over and over again. Every once in a while a new type or variant of the same enemy is added. Some of them can only be attacked a certain way as they are able to block damage. This adds a bit of variety and challenge to the combat and helps save it from what would otherwise feel rather stale and monotonous.
There also appears to be a limit on the amount of enemies that will spawn in the room at one time depending on the size of the room. This will be helpful during the harder difficulties or for younger players.
The whole map is procedurally generated. Each floor of the building is considered its own level. Each level has multiple rooms, a fountain, and an elevator that takes you directly to the next floor. You have one opportunity per level to return to the courtyard and buy items or upgrades. To do this, you’ll toss a coin into the fountain and open a portal. You return via the same portal and from there your only option is finishing the level by finding the key and reaching the elevator. The procedural generation adds some variety to the game. Each room has a unique look and feel. This also adds some degree of replayability to the game since it won’t be exactly the same every playthrough. Because of the limitations on returning to the courtyard to purchase upgraded items or skills, it’s important to loot the levels so you don’t end up underpowered.
The courtyard is where you can interact with the friendly ghosts associated with each tower you’ve unlocked. The ghosts have unique skills you can unlock by purchasing them from the ghosts using the “essence” you’ve collected. There is also a shop area in the courtyard where you can spend your coins on new equipment and stones. There is a good balance between the cost of items and the amount of coin you’re likely to have after completing the levels.
We have run into a few issues with the controls not responding for a few seconds here or there, clipping into fountains and getting stuck, and some audio issues. We know the game is currently in Game Preview and is not completed at this time so hopefully some of those issues will be resolved in the final version.
A simple and fun twin stick shooter. Sometimes feels like the game isn’t sure what genre it wants to be.
Don’t Die, Minerva! will be available on Xbox One and Windows. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.