For those who are just seeing this, I am Matt Kap, a pixel artist at Nicalis. I’ve worked on 1001 Spikes, Legend Of Raven, and was the lead artist on The Binding Of Isaac: Rebirth. All throughout the dev cycle of those projects and the last 3 years I’ve been working on my own project, called Castle In The Darkness! I’m proud to finally have it complete and released on Steam!
For the price of a McCombo you can enjoy several hours of retro goodness, so please give it a try :). Also, I should mention that the soundtrack can also be purchased as a download here for $3, or 50 cents per track! I will be putting the profits from the soundtrack back into making music for future games and other soundtracks, so please support it if you like what you hear :).
Finally, I should mention that some people cannot start the game because they are missing DLL files. I will fix this as soon as I can in the next update, but in the meantime you can fix this problem by updating DirectX, and also installing the DLLs that you can get from this installer.
Anyway, thanks for reading, check out the game, and come back soon! There will be more blog posts and announcements about this game :D! Bye!
Hello! Matt Kap here again, with another dev blog about Castle In The Darkness! Today I’ll talk about the game’s world!
This game is split up into areas, but it’s also a large open world. Before describing any further, I’ll show you guys a zoomed out map of the entire game.
To give you a sense of scale, that red mark on the bottom left is about the size of one screen, so there is a LOT of area to explore in Castle In The Darkness! Of course, you don’t have to explore at all, you could take a straightforward path to the end, but you will find that by skipping all the secrets and upgrades, the game will become hard REAL quick.
Sometimes, certain obstacles will be unpassable, so you will be forced to take a different path, then return later on once you are able to pass the obstacle. These types of games usually require some backtracking. Luckily, there is an item you will obtain part-way into your journey that will facilitate this:
This is the warp stone! Once you get this item, you will be able to use warp points scattered across the world to travel, first to a place called Warp Zone, and from there you wil be able to warp back to any of the warp points.
Warp points are similar to save points, but with a different colored crystal. Without the warp stone, the crystals will not be able to take you anywhere, and will appear as plain rocks. Using the warp stone will make it easier to traverse such a large world, and who knows, Warp Zone may also be hiding secrets of its own!
(And maybe those secrets also have secrets…!)
As usual, thanks for checking this out! Just to remind everyone reading, the game will be out on Steam TOMORROW! Please come back to this blog in the future for more updates, even AFTER release! Till next time!
Hello! Matt Kap here again, with another dev blog about Castle In The Darkness! Today I’ll write about one of the bosses you’ll encounter- Razor Wing!
Razor Wing is a giant and hostile owl that builds its nests on the tops of giant mountains or on tall towers. With its extremely high swooping speed and wings strong enough to create gale winds, it really is a force to be reckoned with!
Razor Wing’s attack patterns are slightly more complex than General’s, but don’t fret- some of you may play through the game and never run into it.
Attack 1: Gale Wind- Razor Wing descends, and uses its powerful wings to shoot gusts of wind at the hero! It’s hard to dodge, but maybe dodging them isn’t the best tactic…
Attack 2: The Descent- Almost without warning, Razor Wing descends at such a high speed that only the most skilled players will be able to move out of the way! The tricky thing is that it may come from either direction!
Razor Wing doesn’t have a weak point like some of the other bosses, but that doesn’t mean that hitting it becomes less challenging as a result. Also, Razor Wing might have a larger role in the game than some of the other bosses, but you will see why once you play the game.
Last, but not least, here is part 2 of the LP done by the lovely Karrie Shirou! Thanks Karrie :D!
As usual, thanks for checking this out! Just to remind everyone reading, the game will be out on Steam on Thursday, Feb 5th! Please come back to this blog in the future for more updates, even AFTER release! Till next time!
Hello! Matt Kap here again, with another dev blog about Castle In The Darkness! Today I’ll talk about the items in the game!
Upgrading your hero is a very important aspect of Castle In The Darkness. By collecting upgrades and items, you will become much stronger, and able to pass obstacles and kill bosses that previously prevented you from proceeding! The first, and most common upgrade, is this:
Boss Heart: After killing boss monsters, they will drop a boss heart. Collecting this will increase your maximum HP by 1 point! This may seem insignificant, but there are a lot of boss monsters in the kingdom of Alexandria, so upgrading your HP as high as you can will enable you to sustain more damage before dying. Other upgrades are in the form of items:
As you can see, there are various types.
Weapons- Swords and other weapons you can equip to attack.
Armor- Armor you can equip to raise your defense and add special properties.
Magic- Powerful magic that you can equip to use against enemies.
Items- Items that add an upgrade once collected, or unlock a path.
Relics- Items that will give you a permanent special ability (swim, break blocks, etc)
In order to see all that Castle In The Darkness has to offer, or even to finish the game, you will need to collect some, if not all, of these upgrades. Some of them are super secret, and/or hard to attain, so meticulous adventurers will be rewarded!
Before I sign off, here is a moving screenshot that shows what the “Ares Gauntlet” relic allows you to do! You will be able to break certain blocks, so in order not to miss anything, you’ll want to find this in the first area of the game!
Hey everyone! Matt Kap here again. Today I will be touching on something that you will see a lot of in Castle In The Darkness, the monsters!
For a game like this, there really has to be a lot of enemies to make each area feel different, and to keep the challenge ramping up throughout. So, though there are a couple (very few) palette swaps, Castle In The Darkness features over 100 enemy monsters! It would take far too long to write about every one of them, so I have picked a few early-game monsters to share some info about.
A flying eyeball with scaly wings and some legs. They aren’t hard to defeat, but report what they’ve seen to the sorcerer that summoned them.
An arrey is a skeleton that has been reanimated by evil magic. Because they are missing any heavy flesh or muscle, they move faster than the zombies, and throw bones at the player.
This mischevious devil spits fireballs at the hero, mocks him, then quickly flies away before he can be punished!
The hair coming from this guy’s head looks like a strange mullet, but it’s really his fuzzy and floppy ears. When he’s not attacking you with his whip, he likes to go for walks and play fetch.
This creature walks around in Agros Forest. When startled, it will squeeze its fungus muscles and shoot out burning spores through its cap.
This post just happens to scratch the surface of what you can expect in terms of enemies, so maybe at some point I will do another post that will show some of the late-game enemies or more obscure/secret ones.
Last, but certainly not least, the lovely Karrie Shirou made a video of herself LPing the first area of Castle In The Darkness! Keep in mind that this was made a while back, so the build is dated and things will be a bit different when the game drops next week. It was a pleasure for me to watch this, and I’m proud to be the cause of the intense emotional ups-and-downs she had to experience :). Thanks Karrie!
Again, thanks for reading! Please keep checking this blog for future updates! Till next time!
Hey everyone! Matt Kap here! Today I will be talking about the music in Castle In The Darkness.
I’ve always had a lot of musical instruments around my house because my father was a musician. Eventually I got into playing music myself, first playing drums in a punk band, switching to guitar at one point long ago (and playing with several bands), and recently picking up the violin for fun. It’s safe to say that without having heard the soundtracks from games I played as a kid (Castlevania, Megaman, Ys, etc), I may never have gotten as much into music as I am today!
When I started working on Castle In The Darkness, I wanted all the music to be fast-paced, a bit aggressive, but still super melodic. Since I was already well-practiced in making music that included those traits, I figured it would be really fun to compose the soundtrack by myself!
The music in-game had to be 8-bit-ish chiptune styled to fit with the 8-bit limitations I had already set for this project, so I composed them using a computer. I have composed about 50 songs in total, most of which made it into the game! I am very happy with how it turned out, as they do a really good job conveying the feeling and atmosphere I had in mind! Here are a couple samples of the soundtrack and some moving screenshots:
This is the music that plays in the first area, Alexandria.
It’s fast and melodic, with a galloping drum beat. Perfect for the start of a challenging journey.
This is the music that plays in the second area, Agros Forest.
It’s a driving rock chiptune that is somewhat of a contrast to the happier sounding music from the previous area. Things are starting to get serious!
For those of you who like what you hear, the entire soundtrack will be available to purchase at some point, but I’ll give more details about that in the near future! Thanks again, and come back soon!
Hello! Matt Kap here again, with another dev blog about Castle In The Darkness! Today I’ll write about one of the bosses you’ll encounter- General!
General is a posessed statue of a deceased knight from Alexandria’s history. He is almost a screen tall, and holds a scary stone greatsword. Besides just being a statue of a past general of the army, I named him after a character from one of my favorite manga series.
He may seem really intimidating, but like many bosses from classic-era games, he has a fairly simple pattern that most players will start to understand after fighting him a couple of times. He walks back and forth in the room, occasionally pausing to unleash one of two attacks.
Attack 1: Greatsword Crush- He lifts his stone greatsword, and brings it down to attempt to crush you! This also causes a loose brick to fall from the ceiling, so watch out!
Attack 2: Eye Beam- He pauses, and then shoots a short laser from his one eye!
To damage General, you cannot just hit him anywhere, you have to attack his weak point. I won’t spoil that in this post, but it isn’t very hard to find. Touching General will damage you, so be careful to stay away from him until you are ready to strike! As a final bit of something to show, here is an image that shows the old design of General before I redesigned him!
Thanks for reading, guys and girls! Please keep checking this blog for future updates! Till next time!
Hello! Matt Kap here again, with another dev blog about Castle In The Darkness! Today I’ll talk a little bit about the hero of the game.
About The Hero
At the beginning of Castle In The Darkness, not much is known about the player character, other than the fact that he is a royal guard of Alexandria, and the sole survivor of the monster attack that left the castle royalty-free. To put it simply, the hero is you, discovering the world and its secrets, as you do. I purposely avoided giving the hero much back story, because the game isn’t about his development, it’s about a kingdom in danger, and you, the player, cleaning up the mess.
The hero doesn’t talk in-game, for the following reasons:
1. Many classic-era console heroes did not talk, so I wanted to stay faithful to that.
2. This game doesn’t have a lot of dialog anyway, so excessive dialog would take the focus off of the action!
The hero is primarily shown wearing variants of guard armor from the kingdom of Alexandria. The sketch below shows what he might have worn if he was ever seen without his armor.
(At one point, a tutorial chapter was considered where you run around a field with a wooden sword and regular clothes, but there wasn’t much to teach that wasn’t easily learnable just by playing the game.)
I designed the armor with one main thing in mind, I wanted him to look like what he is- a generic guard. After sketching lots of types of helmets and armor, I decided that he would have more charm with a helmet that shows his face. I also had to choose something that would look iconic and recognizable in a 16×16 sprite.
At the time when I started to work on this game there weren’t any active blue heroes in games (Megaman was on vacation), so I chose blue as the color of the hero’s armor. It also happened that blue looked best and stuck out over the background tiles I was drawing, so the choice stuck…
That’s it for this post! Please keep checking this blog for future updates! Till next time!
Hello! Matt Kap here again, with another dev blog about Castle In The Darkness! Today I’ll spend some time talking about the general design of the game! But before I do, I’ll show you a piece of promotional art.
As I have mentioned in the past, my main goal was to create a game that would have been my absolute favorite as a kid, had it been released on a classic console like the NES. I loved action platformers and adventure games the most, especially those that allowed some exploration (Metroid, Castlevania 2, Faxanadu, etc), so the main choice was that simple. This has always been my favorite genre of video game.
In order for it to work better in this day and age, I felt like I had to make some changes to the formula.
1. Movement: To keep up with modern design sensibilities (and to avoid getting shot at by angry players), I did away with antiquated game design decisions like ultra-slow (why do Belmonts always walk?) movement and not being able to alter direction mid-jump. Instead, you are free to run and dodge at a fast pace.
It takes just a couple seconds to run from one end of a room to the other, but by doing so you might not be seeing obstacles, traps, and secrets. The plus side to this is that slower players can choose to play carefully, and impatient players (like myself) can blast through the rooms after dying learning where the traps are! Also, you get more airtime by holding the jump button, so it’s possible to tap jump to do a short hop, and hold jump down for a leap.
2. With the exception of projectiles, attacks come out as fast as you can press the button. So players can wait through an enemy’s patterns and strike a few times to play it safe, or use that window to dice them up by fist-of-the-north-star-ing the attack button! You will still lose momentum while attacking on the ground, but no more taking damage because you’re stuck with your sword out for half a second!
In the old days, slow mechanics were commonly used to extend gameplay time. So, by getting rid of those slow mechanics, the only way to extend gameplay time in Castle In The Darkness was to add as much content as I could. I’m hoping that players will appreciate this effort, and work together to uncover all the stuff I hid in this game.