Developed By: Smokingbear Studio
Published By: Thermite Games
Category: Adventure, Role-Playing, Strategy
Release Date: 02.10.22
Castle Morihisa is a roguelike deck building game that manages to hit that sweet spot between easy to understand and challenging to conquer. The story is pretty light; there’s just kind of a vague reference to investigating Nobunaga Oda’s castle. Overall, though, this is in no way a narrative-driven game. So if that’s what you look for in a game, you might look elsewhere. However, if you’re looking for tight, engaging gameplay, read on.
Putting Castle Morihisa on the Map
The gameplay in Castle Morihisa starts with players moving forward along a world map. Every step along the map consists of three or four different, randomly generated events. Players choose one of those events to play out, and then move on to the next step. Events include regular battles, elite monster battles, camping, or finding treasure. The map consists of multiple areas, and a boss fight awaits at the end of each area.
The first thing you do when starting a game in Castle Morihisa is choose a class. You’ve got the monk, onmyoji, and samurai right off the bat, and you can unlock a kunoichi after beating the game for the first time. Each class has its own unique cards, card mechanics, and starting deck. Winning battles will reward you with money, additional cards, and skill points. Money can be used to buy new cards or remove unwanted cards from your deck. The classes have some similarities, but overall their mechanics make them feel unique and offer a satisfying feeling of diversity of strategy.
Wheel of Fortune
While I liked the game’s different classes, I have to say I didn’t care for the game’s skill tree. More specifically, I didn’t like that the skill tree was entirely randomized for each playthrough. The skill tree consist of four circles, with each ring having increasingly powerful skills but also getting increasingly more expensive. That setup would be fine if the skill trees were preset; skill points aren’t exactly rare, but there aren’t nearly enough available to simply take every skill on the board in a playthrough. This forces you to really consider which skills to take. The problem arises with the randomized construction. Building your character’s strength by stacking complementary skills is essential for success in Castle Morihisa; if your skill tree doesn’t contain any or enough complementary skills, it severely hampers your effectiveness in battle.
Is This Your Card?
When you engage in battle, you’ll be greeted with a fast-paced, simple to understand, but nonetheless engagingly challenging card-based combat system. Every turn starts with the player drawing their hand. Cards are divided into attack, defense, skill, and tactic types. Attack and defense cards are self-explanatory, while skill cards apply certain temporary effects and tactic cards apply ongoing effects. The interplay between deck construction, skill tree growth, and special class mechanics is well-balanced. Again, it would have been better if the skill tree was more consistent between different playthroughs, but overall the gameplay is very satisfying.
Who Needs Animation With Art Like This? (I Might)
Castle Morihisa features a very attractive hand-drawn art style. The character sprites, card images, and backgrounds are very well-drawn in a cool anime style. I mean, it’s pretty hard to make samurai zombie aesthetics look lame, but I still awarded full points for design. Nothing really moves, which does make things feel a bit stiff and maybe even a little visually boring. Luckily, the gameplay moves fast enough to minimize this effect. The music is up-tempo, tense, and dramatic, and overall complements the visuals well. For a game with no real motion visually, the music still imbues the game with a sense of action.
Have Fun Storming the Castle
I’m a sucker for a game with a good story, which Castle Morihisa unfortunately lacks. Other than that, however, I had a hard time finding real fault with the game. I was satisfied by the difficulty level of the combat, the depth of strategy in both combat, deck-building, and character-building, and enjoyed the graphics and music overall. The lack of animation in the graphics was a minor complaint, though noticeable. Additionally, the randomized construction of the skill tree made it hard to explore a consistent strategy from playthrough to playthrough. Despite these issues, however, I greatly enjoyed Castle Morihisa for its engaging and well-paced gameplay.
Buy Castle Morihisa
Digital/Physical – $14.99
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The Switch Effect was graciously supplied a code for review purposes.