previews\ May 27, 2013 at 4:00 pm

Castle Story shows us its adorable little bones


Castle Story took Kickstarter by storm last summer, meeting its $80k goal in under five hours and going on to raise over $700k in its month-long crowdfunding window. (This was partially due to Minecraft creator Notch tweeting his blessing of the project.)

For those who haven’t been anxiously hitting refresh on developer Sauropod’s website since the project was first announced, Castle Story is a voxel-based building and survival game. Think of it as an RTS version of Minecraft, only 10 times more adorable due to the irresistible cuddliness of its denizens.

As was promised when the Kickstarter went live, anyone who backed the game at the $15 level or greater was given a prototype build of the game. This is a pre-beta build that doesn’t offer a whole lot more than a stripped-down showcase of some of the features that currently work, and it’s got more than its fair share of bugs. But it does let players experience the cuteness of Castle Story’s world, and that’s pretty awesome.

Castle Story

While Sauropod made absolutely no promises about the stability or playability of this early build, they’ve released a few patches to clean up some of the preliminary issues, offer some new features, and overhaul the interface (which was admittedly terribly counterintuitive upon release). Mind you, they didn’t have to do any of this – it’s quite a bit more than their Kickstarter page ever promised – but they’ve done it regardless, probably because the guys at Sauropod are just that nice.

Either way, we’ve been keeping our eyes on Castle Story, popping into the prototype build every now and again to keep up with the improvements Sauropod’s been making.

Castle Story takes place in a world of magically floating islands, which can be mined and reshaped by the hardworking, as well as explored by the curious. It’s a world loaded with resources – primarily wood and stone, though there are crystals that can be collected to make up essences that will spawn new workers.

Castle Story

The current build includes a revamped, wheel-based command interface, which isn’t exactly perfect just yet, but it’s leaps and bounds better than the interface of the initial version of the prototype. Essentially, it allows you to select a group of Bricktrons, Castle Story’s loveable yellow dudes, and assign them to various roles. Bricktrons can chop down trees to collect lumber, dig into the earth to make caves and gather stone, and build structures out of the wood and stone they’ve collected.

You can set up elaborate mining and building projects by outlining them in your world, and then just sit back and watch while your Bricktrons get to work. Of course, there are still some pathing issues, and you’ll want to be careful to watch for bottlenecks in your resource-to-construction process. In fact, you’ll end up doing a lot of micro-management in order to keep everyone on task. You’ll notice Bricktrons getting stuck after running into each other, becoming overwhelmed at projects that are overly complex, or just standing around and refusing to work. Still, if you can keep them all on task, those little guys will labor as long as whatever project you’ve assigned them has things for them to do.

It’s all very basic, but it’s given us a great opportunity to work on our gathering and building skills before the game’s antagonists start showing up in later builds. Yes, the game will eventually include battles against swarms of rock monsters called Corruptrons, so all those lovely castles you’re undoubtedly going to build are going to need to be defended.

Castle Story

The build we’ve been tinkering around with is almost embarrassingly barebones, and the controls and AI are in very early stages. Still, the game has an addictive charm to it that has kept us up for some pretty late nights building, mining, and planning out strategies for the inevitable battles we’ll be fighting once the Corruptrons start showing up.

You can currently preorder the game at the official Castle Story site, which will allow you to take part in the beta whenever that launches, but for now, the only people who have access to the prototype build are the Kickstarter backers. If, for whatever reason, you didn’t get around to helping fund the project last year, you should definitely be keeping your eyes on Castle Story. It has the potential to be an incredible little building/survival game.

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