The Eternal Castle (REMASTERED) is as the name implies a remaster of the 1987 title The Eternal Castle. This isn’t a title you hear many talk about, especially being that it release before iconic cinematic platform titles Another World and Flashback. Funnily enough, there is a reason for that and that is the original game never existed?. Is this still a firm Remaster of something that never was or should it have just been left in the fake history books?
The Eternal Castle (REMASTERD) as mentioned above is a remaster to a game that never existed. While there was a small campaign using screenshots and fake games to create the illusion this game once existed, sadly it never really made that many waves. The Eternal Castle is part of the cinematic platformer genre, home to titles such as Prince of Persia (the original 2), Flashback (Not the 360/PS3) and Another World (Out of this World as it’s known in some places). Commonly known for great-looking animations, weighty controls and physics and usually crushingly difficult unless you know exactly what to do and what pixel to be stood on when you jump.
The Eternal Castle puts you in the boots of either Adam & Eve, there is a title sequence which takes a great effort to read and then it chucks you into the ambiguous landscape of the world around The Eternal Castle. Your task is to collect the 4 gliders from areas around the castle, power up your ship, and continue your adventure to reach The Eternal Castle.
The story does have more depth to it than it initially looks but where The Eternal Castle really shines is not in well-written lore articles but in its environmental storytelling and by what it doesn’t actually show or tell you. One of the greatest narrative tricks in writing is creating something ambiguous forcing to use your imagination, this is something that can be done really well like in the classic novel Silence of the Lambs which was much as a novel than a film and director and legend David Lynch also makes heavy use of this, sadly in his case maybe a little too much at times!.
The Eternal Castle does a fantastic job of providing you with just enough environmental storytelling for you to get a handle on what is going on while adding your own mental spin on what you feel the real deal is. Each section of the game feels wildly different in terms of tone and while they wouldn’t always work together, this title has managed to make these seemingly disjointed sections, work in smaller narrative terms, and that of forcing your character to grow through adversity.
Visually The Eternal Castle features a 2-bit CGA animated graphics design, it looks so suitably retro but animates beautifully, everything feels like it has weight and impact to it. From a stray bullet hitting a light bulb to water pouring down a waterfall, everything just has a distinct weight visually that is very hard to describe but when you see it in motion you can’t help but be in awe. At no point during the game are there any more than 4 colours used for a section and these colours also add to the environmental storytelling and help add to that tale.
The music and sound effects are also suitably weighty for the title. The different areas all have a distinct sound to them, one is a horror-themed area while one is a more war-torn area and they sound completely different from each other. Aside from the wet sounding melee the guns also have a brilliant sounding impact to them too which really makes the feel a step above normal combat within the game.
As I mentioned in the intro, The Eternal Castle (Remastered) is a cinematic platforming experience, while not quite as tough as the other titles mentioned, this still isn’t an easy ride. Each of the areas presents a different aspect from the genre, be it puzzle-solving, weighty combat, platforming, or just exploring.
Throughout the stages you have items you can collect which improve your abilities such as a Bandana for Stealth, there are also 30 collectibles that are connected to the true ending of the title meaning you have another reason to come back once the curtain has called. Multiple playthroughs are highly recommended as the path taken chases in regards to how you approach a section, different pathways to discover, and doors to take.
The boss battles range from half-decent to rather dull damage sponges and aren’t highlights from a gameplay perspective but are tied to some of the better set pieces within the game. The weapons are fantastic and as mentioned when you get a gun, you just feel more powerful. When having gunfights during the game, bullets will spray everywhere hitting the background, smashing windows and light bulbs, and really just adding to that cinematic feeling.
The Eternal Castle (REMASTERED) isn’t a lengthy title by any means, you should see the first credits by hour 3 at most, add another hour or so to mop up collectibles or should you want to run through as the other character. I will say to its merit, the game held me captive from the initial minute to the very end of the game without a break, something that hasn’t happened in some time. The mystery behind the game just drives you and the gameplay is so rewarding and has such a great feeling to it that you cannot put it down until the credits roll, chances are you’ll be back the next day too!.
Despite playing other cinematic platformer games, I’ve never really had any personal nostalgia for any of them aside from a smidge for Flashback. The Eternal Castle (REMASTERED) is not only now my personal favourite from the genre, featuring a campaign of all killer and no filler unlike Flashback but is also one of the best games I have reviewed this year and this is a lofty statement from me as I initially had zero interest in the title. The game has a cheap enough price point that even the short run time can be excused because every second of the game is engaging and entertaining.