Diorama Dungeoncrawl: Master of the Living Castle (PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, X/S, PC)

Guide a knight through blocky retro styled areas and use a trusty axe to defeat goblins, skeletons, and other baddies in dark forest and creepy crypts in Diorama DungeonCrawl: Master of the Living Castle.  It’s a bit like a side scrolling beat ‘em up with some platforming thrown in, and it’s available on all current consoles and PC, but reviewed on PS4 here.

Move your knight around with the control stick, and swing your axe with a button.  He swings in a vertical motion, so your attack range is limited.  Another button lets you jump.  You can hit these barrel things that give you items.  If you get a square with a picture on it, you can use that kind of magic by charging up your axe before swinging by holding down the button.  Some magic lets you shoot fireballs in an arc from your axe swing, and another lets you send out a shockwave on the ground.  These attacks take up magic points, which you can refill by picking up little white dots.  Food items restore your health.

The worst part about this game is the play control.  Moving, jumping, and attacking feel very stiff, especially when you have to do some platforming.  Because of that, it’s really easier just to avoid enemies and head for the exit.  I even did that with a boss bear character in the forest area!  And the game is really buggy.  When I tried the level select, I just kept swinging my axe and couldn’t move.  It really feels like an unfinished game and is one of the worst I’ve played this year.

Kid Factor:

Diorama Dungeoncrawl: Master of the Living Castle is rated E for Everyone with ESRB descriptors of Mild Fantasy Violence and Mild Language.  I didn’t notice any bad language in the text, and when you defeat enemies or get killed yourself, characters just fall over and flash and explode.  Reading skill is helpful for some of the text, but not necessary just to play.  Younger gamers may get frustrated at the high difficulty and bad controls.

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