When it comes to off-the-wall indies, few developers top The Behemoth and their classic beat 'em up is now freshly remastered.
For the unfamiliar, Castle Crashers originally released back in 2008 for Xbox 360 and a few years back, it received a remastered version for Xbox One which just recently debuted for Switch and PS4. Anyway, when it first came out, it was a huge success and helped solidify The Behemoth as a trusted name in indie games after their wacky 2D action game Alien Hominid put them on the map.
So, what makes Castle Crashers so great? Well, its super-fun beat 'em up gameplay lends itself perfectly to cooperative play sessions and the implemented RPG elements are very rewarding to take advantage of. Considering there's a selection of distinct characters including many unlockable ones, watching your favourite combatants gradually become more powerful is satisfying stuff.
The core gameplay of Castle Crashers involves running around, jumping, performing light and heavy attacks, unleashing magic spells, and using items such as potions and a bow and arrow. As you can see, it's a rather simplistic setup although there are plenty of segments that deviate from the traditional beat 'em up formula. For example, you'll find yourself being chased by a large monster, fighting your allies for a princess' affection, and riding around on goofy-looking animals. The boss battles are insane, too, and will thoroughly put your skills to the test as you hack and slash away at the hulking monstrosities. If you can't quite topple a boss, you could always grind to level up more which allows you to spend skill points to increase your character's base stats as well as purchase new weapons and such.
Castle Crashers Remastered looks fantastic on modern consoles with its beautiful and well-animated visuals popping in high resolution and a steady framerate. I forgot just how incredible the world of Castle Crashers is and I'm very happy that it has received such a substantial upgrade. Meanwhile, its crazy sense of humour is as bananas as ever complete with loads of hilarious moments that'll make you and your friends laugh out loud, especially if you enjoy farts and other sophomoric humour. That being said, how could you not laugh at a scared deer that propels itself forward by firing a constant stream of poop behind it? It's ridiculous stuff that doesn't take itself seriously.
Although you can play Castle Crashers Remastered solo, it's much more fun to enjoy it with up to 4 players via local friends or strangers in online multiplayer. Battling your way through hordes of foes while levelling up and finding adorable animals that give you nifty boosts only to then face off in the battle arena and see who comes out on top is highly enjoyable. There's a new mini-game here as well in the form of Back Off Barbarian which has you simply try and avoid spawning barbarians by tapping buttons to move your character across a grid. It can be pretty confusing in multiplayer and it's a fairly simple distraction but it's cool that they added it nonetheless.
My main issue with Castle Crashers has always been that its core gameplay gets tiresome after a while. Sure, there are lots of moments that add variety but once you get back to the old-school beat 'em up formula again, things start to wear a little thin. Of course, you'll occasionally learn the odd new ability but these still don't do enough to keep the core gameplay feeling wholly fresh and exciting. Finally, I wish Castle Crashers Remastered featured more than better performance and a new mini-game. Heck, it doesn't even include the All You Can Quaff and Volleyball mini-games that were featured in the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions, respectively.
Castle Crashers Remastered takes an already great game and makes it even better by improving its performance and adding a new mini-game. It may not go as far as some remasters but it's still worth purchasing, especially if you haven't played it before.
- + Super-fun beat 'em up action, especially while playing cooperatively
- + Hilarious presentation throughout
- + Rewarding RPG elements / new mini-game
- - Core gameplay can become rather tiresome
- - Not much has changed from the original
- - A couple of mini-games are missing