Hyakki Castle

Game review by
Michael Lafferty, Common Sense Media
Hyakki Castle Game Poster Image
Dungeon adventure misses chance to create something new.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Fighting monsters, rescuing party members that were captured, solving puzzles to defeat evil, save kingdom.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Players take on the role of warriors fighting evil, but there's little backstory for characters.

Ease of Play

Split-screen concept sounds very nice but can get tedious fast, particularly when each party is engaged in fighting a monster. 

Violence

Characters can use different skills, melee attacks to dispose of monsters. Screen is spotted temporarily with what's supposed to be blood splatters, but there's no dismemberment, bloody corpses. Enemy, when defeated, just disappears. 

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Hyakki Castle is a downloadable single-player dungeon crawling game that features progressively harder levels with an assortment of fantastical beasts and monsters. The game allows players to split their party into two groups of two heroes, each controlled separately, which means jumping between two sides of the screen. The split in focus and attention might be too much for a younger player. There's some minor bloodshed caused in battle, although enemies disappear when defeated. Otherwise, there's no inappropriate content.

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What's it about?

Set in the Edo Japan period, HYAKKI CASTLE tells the story of an island where criminals are sent. After a failed plot to overthrow the Shogunate, Doman Kigata (a sorcerer) is sent in exile to this location. One day, decapitated heads are sent back to Edo Castle, and a mysterious castle (Hyakki Castle) mysteriously appears on the island. Four warriors are dispatched to end what appears to be a new threat, but they are shipwrecked, captured, and put in the castle's dungeons. It's up to the warriors to get free of the dungeon, investigate the castle floor by floor, and dispose of whatever or whoever is causing the latest unrest.

Is it any good?

This history-focused dungeon crawler may have some new mechanics, but the core of the action is essentially the same as older games, which becomes tedious after a while. Hyakki Castle allows four heroes to split into two parties (of two warriors) to explore and defeat the variety of monsters (some very gruesome) in their path. Jumping from one side of the monitor to the other is intriguing at first, but starts to wear a bit thin as the difficulty ramps up. There are three difficulty levels, though, allowing players to get their hack-and-slash boots worked in before taking on the tougher mobs. Unfortunately, the game is a bit weak and redundant when it comes to the graphics and game flow. While the game can be played with either a mouse and keyboard or a controller, the control settings aren't particularly intuitive when it comes to keymapping on the gamepad. 

The game uses the traditional four-member team of ranged/magic users, fighters, and healers, but the game graphics could have been a lot more vibrant than presented. The game also forces players to split the party in order to solve puzzles -- the easiest of which involves leaving one party on a pressure plate to open a gate while the other party goes through and steps on the pressure plate on the other side to keep the gate up and reunite the party. Overall, Hyakki Castle feels like a missed opportunity. The game draws on an intriguing time setting and has an array of mythological creatures to intrigue Western players, but it dips into traditional first-person gameplay elements rather than using the setting as a launching point for something truly inviting. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how games use history to weave fantastic, imaginary tales. What other games use history as a backdrop?  How do they rely on a different version of history to tell a story?

  • Talk about screen time limits. How do you actively give yourself a break when games try to get you to keep playing through one more level?

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