Castle of Heart – Review
Castle of Heart is a medieval platformer, exclusive for the Switch. You take on the role of a cursed knight who has been turned to stone by an evil sorcerer. Saved by the tear of his beloved, he is able to go on a journey to save the land as you travel to the dark sorcerer’s castle. Along the way you’ll meet some interesting characters who will help you on your journey. Featuring four different environments, each with its respective enemies, the stone knight will battle his way to proving that courage can overcome all, even a heart of stone.
With over 20 different levels to play through, Castle of Heart manages to deliver nice level design and graphics. 7Levels has created detailed 3D textures, but at times enemies and some environmental objects almost blend in with each other, making it difficult to see enemies at times. It doesn’t happen too often, but when it does, it can negatively affect your game as enemies can do loads of damage when not watched. Colors really work well with the settings, fiery ruined environments have a red glow that makes them feel even more distressed.
The lighting is great in Castle of Heart, especially in the later levels. Light shines through windows and illuminates the ground you walk on as you hack-and-slash your way through your enemies. Objects can be deceiving at times, as is the case with most 3D platformers, you’re always guessing what you can hit. While some objects may be destructible in Castle of Heart, not all of them are. There may be times when you see something in the background that you believe may hold something, jumping to find you can’t destroy it, and falling into a bed of spikes, which are very deadly in this game.
The graphics are very good, and the enemy designs are done well, with the exception of a few enemies that are difficult to identify. Is that a goblin or some sort of man-beast? All I know is I want to kill it. The design of the cursed knight is pretty vanilla. While no one’s expecting a man made of stone to look fantastic, it would have been nice to customize him a little. In his normal form he kinda looks like the Knight of Astoria from Dark Souls, ya know, only made of stone.
Combat is difficult in Castle of Heart, but don’t worry, it’s made to be that way. The difficulty is only as hard as you approach your enemies. Some enemies will need to be taken out using tactics. Of course, you can always just run up and hack at them, but then you may just turn into cobblestone if you try that. There are two ways to regain health, collecting red health gems and reaching a checkpoint. I should also mention that your health constantly depletes! Red health gems can be acquired by defeating enemies or finding them in the environment, but you’ll continually need to collect them. Blue gems can extend your health bar once enough are collected to fill up the circular meter to the left of your health bar.
There is a problem with Castle of Heart that I’m sure all players will run into. Sometimes enemies that are above you, say on a ledge or a balcony, will stand at the very end of that platform, preventing you from jumping on and attacking them. The only method to take them out is a downward strike, which does fair damage to opponents. But when you’re being crowded by enemies on the ground level and need some height advantage, these enemies will block your path, watching on as you crumble and are reduced to gravel. Also something we noticed while playing, some objects that you are required to jump over are too large for the jump, so in the end we get damaged anyway,
Boss fights are pretty straightforward and don’t take much to figure out the pattern of your opponent. Bosses can do a lot of damage, so it’s important to not get too cocky. Cursed Knight can use special attacks using L+Y, this is a heavy attack that can be used to injure enemies and break through barriers. The downside to this attack is that it consumes your health every time you use it, so it’s wise to save it for when you really need it.
Castle of Heart actually features roughly 50 short and long-range weapons, so you can find what weapon best suits your play style. You can pick up consumables, like bombs and throwing knives, that are stored in the bottom left of the screen. These can be found around the map or taken from fallen foes. You can also pick up a second handheld weapon. Ranging from crossbows to another sword, these can help you in various ways. Crossbows can shoot down hanging objects and take out distant enemies with a few shots. A second sword allows you to add more strikes to your normal combo. We prefer the second sword for the feeling if invincibility that comes with it.
When your health is low enough you can say goodbye to second weapons. Once your health reaches a certain point your arm falls off, leaving you with your only main weapon to defend yourself. We’re not sure why this happens; it makes it more challenging to stay alive. But for those who really do want to stay alive, it can be quite frustrating. Also remember your health constantly depletes, so you could lose and arm and not see it coming.
Combat is good and challenging, it’s what you’d expect from a hack-and-slash platformer. You reap the rewards in the end if you come out on top, and that’s what makes the challenging side of this game so fun. At times combat feels like a hassle because enemies all charge you at once if you’re on their level, but one Cursed Knight taking on five zombie villagers with two swords, now that’s badass.
Castle of Heart features a story that is more or less forgettable. Once upon a time a cursed sorcerer lived in a castle atop a mountain. His heart was made of stone and his greed engulfed him. His looks caused those who saw him to shriek and run in terror. With each passing year, the sorcerer demanded more and more tributes and sacrifices from the villagers. One day the sorcerer returned and asked the villagers to give more than they were able. One Knight decided to take up arms against this sorcerer to defend his beloved. The sorcerer was not amused and became angered, so he decided to bestow a curse of his own on all the villagers.
As for the Knight, he was turned to stone, and his beloved was taken to be kept in the deepest dungeon in his castle atop the mountain shrouded in fog. The sorcerer, blinded by greed, was not able to see the true power of love. The Stone Knight arose from the burning ruins of his village, survived by the tear of his beloved. You are now the Cursed Stone Knight and you must travel to the castle atop the mountain shrouded in fog.
It’s a classic story, one we’ve all seen before, except maybe the turned to stone part. One thought may creep up on you as you go on this journey. In the beginning, the sorcerer turned the villagers into stone because you retaliated. So the enemies you’ve been fighting, they’re that way because of your actions. Or do you think the sorcerer would have done it anyway? Just something to think about while you hack-and-slash your way through these foes.
Castle of Heart is a nice little platformer that has a lot of action. During some moments throughout the game, you’ll feel really immersed and maybe even a little on edge. A Switch exclusive, it uses the console well. We felt it better to play this one handheld—rather than docked—as we found it to be easier to navigate, and we recommend you do the same. 7Levels crafted a good platformer, and we’re excited to see what they can deliver next.
Check out our video review above and leave a comment below on what your thoughts are about Castle of Heart from 7Levels.