- Developer: Smokingbear Studio
- Publisher: Thermite Games
- Release Date: 10/02/2022
- Price: £13.49 / $14.99
- Review code provided by Thermite Games
Introducing: Castle Morihisa Review
Over the past couple of years, we have seen a rather large increase in the “Deck-building Roguelike” genre of gaming. Everything from Slay the Spire to Dicey Dungeon or Loop Hero find their niche with this ever expanding genre. Being a personal fan of these games, I stumbled upon one of the newest additions to the genre, Castle Morihisa. Just looking at the promo material it seemed right up my alley, so let’s bring out our strategy brain’s and get our deck building hands ready for this review of Castle Morihisa.
Close Off the Gates
There isn’t too much of a story to Castle Morihisa. Lord Ishikawa, the lord of the titular castle, has suddenly closed off his castle to the public. Including blocking off all roads that lead to it. You play as a warrior that is tasked with reaching the castle and uncovering the secrets of the Ishikawa family.
Not like the game straight up tells you this story. You basically have to dig through lore just to understand what is going on. Castle Morihisa has a “throw you in and hope you learn to swim” approach to everything, including its story.
Slay the Castle
The gameplay itself is going to be very familiar to people who have played Slay the Spire before. You play as one of four classes; Monk, Onmyoji, Samurai and Ninja. Just like in Slay the Spire, each of these classes has unique attack and defense cards to use for their individual play styles. I personally spent most of my time playing as the Onmyoji, who specialize in summoning familiars to deal damage and effects over time. Though I would say for beginners you would want the Monk, as their cards seemed the most balanced between offense and defense and had the least amount of special effects running around.
Your goal is to travel through three separate maps through various nodes that appear as you progress. Typically, the choice is going to be between normal enemy encounters, rest spots, elite encounters, and events. Rarely did I find myself wanting a regular encounter, as the rest spots let you heal and upgrade cards, the elite encounters simply give better rewards, and the events usually provided special cards or effects for your run. Though there are a few unique mechanics to Castle Morihisa that make it its own.
Fallen Heroes and Talent Points
At the start of each run, and upon beating a boss, you can get Fallen Heroes. These are spirits that you can use at any point to provide some sort of advantage in combat. I often found myself using the stun or damage reducing ones for my runs as they seemed the most helpful to bring up shortcomings within my build.
Another major change to the formula is the inclusion of a Talent Tree. You earn points for the tree by completing nodes, with certain events and elite encounters rewarding more. Just like the cards you obtain, the Talent Tree is randomized, so you can never have the same build going on twice. Combine this with the fact that the shop is always available to you outside of being a node you have to find, and Castle Morihisa offers a lot to shake up the formula.
The Stylized Approach
The art and music in Castle Morihisa are truly “chef’s kiss”. The art is reminiscent of ancient Japanese scrolls and paintings, really pulling you into the ancient Japanese themes of the game. Though I do wish they used those themes a little bit more for the story. The character and enemy designs are unique and pretty eye-catching in a way I haven’t seen games attempt in a long time
Despite how much I truly enjoyed this game it is not without its faults. It is a tad too challenging for people new to the genre, and if you are new to the genre then you can forget about beating the elite encounters without substantial loss. There is also little to no strategic planning with what “path” to take. I use the word “path” loosely because you are on a set path and just pick nodes along the way for encounters. This leaves little to no planning ahead of time because the only modes you can see are the next ones on your path. Outside of these flaws, Castle Morihisa is a fun time.
Overall, I would almost say that Castle Morihisa is a must play for fans of similar games such as Slay the Spire. While it doesn’t do a whole lot to change the formula, it does enough to add an extra layer to the game play. Plus the art style alone is enough to just catch your eye and keep it there.
- Unique gameplay mechanics for the genre
- Beautiful art style and music
- Familiar for fans of the genre
- Not for beginners
- Not able to really plan your path out as well