Available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4
We played on Xbox One
Match-3 puzzle games are a dime a dozen. At this point in the gaming universe you can match everything from jewels to candy to fruit to animals. Most of these games are derivatives of each other that really aren’t that different from any of the other games. Castles is a match-3 game, but it’s the most original one I’ve played. The matching element has depth and the pace of the game doesn’t let you slow down. It’s frantic and really fun.
Castles doesn’t really have much of story other than the king decided one day that he wanted to build a big tower. That’s all. It’s really just a set-up to one aspect of the things you’ll be matching.
As noted above, Castles is match-3, but it’s a lot more fun. The game is played from an isometric perspective. You play as a random builder who is trying to build the tallest tower possible. You do this by pushing and pulling the blocks around a 5-by-5 grid. The blocks can be matched by color or by the icon on top. The goals for each level are listed on the left. Completely those goals, will raise the castle up a level and give you new goals to complete. Your avatar can run around, jump on top of the blocks and even occasionally smash them with a hammer. If the grid fills up completely, you lose. Sounds simple right?
Not exactly. All the while you’re making your matches, new blocks are falling from the sky. If one of these happens to fall on you, you respawn at a corner outside of the grid. This happens quickly, but at times it doesn’t feel quickly enough. These blocks will also smash the blocks below them, potentially changing the color and icon when they do so. This makes things even more challenging because you may be in the process of pushing a third block up against the matching two, only to have a new block smash on the old ones and make you start over again.
There’s no doubt that Castles can be frustrating and downright difficult at times, but that’s all in a good way. I found myself itching to try again, just to see how high of a level I could reach. I ended up playing the game for a lot longer than I had planned. Another great feature is that you can play the game cooperatively with a friend, making it an awesome family game.
Castles has been rated E with a descriptor for minor fantasy violence. As mentioned above, your character can get squashed by a falling brick, but that’s the extent of it.
If you like puzzles games, specifically match-3 games, you should give Castles a try. It takes that gameplay mechanic and kicks it up a notch making it more difficult than your standard match-3 game. But that’s a good thing. I’ve never wanted to sit and play Candy Crush as long as I wanted to play Castles. It’s frantic gameplay made for a vastly enjoyable experience.