Title: Citadale: The Legends Trilogy
Platform: PC, WiiU (in separate parts)
Developer: Ezekiel Rage
Publisher: Plug In Digital
Release Date: September 13, 2017
It took me a while to get to reviewing Citadale: The Legends Trilogy. September was just a crazy, crazy month for me. But I go into this somewhat apprehensive.
I’m not one to just dump on Indie developers. I feel like I’ve gotten a better hold on reviewing over time, though. I’ll tell you up front; this game wouldn’t have a terribly high score to begin with. It has a fair share of problems, but those pale in comparison to one really unforgivable thing.
See, the first thing you’ll notice when you boot the game up is that Citadale really looks like Castlevania. The second thing you’ll notice is that it really looks like Castlevania. And that led me to Google search the game, which uncovered this Nintendo Life thread about the Wii U version of the first chapter in the trilogy. And that confirmed a number of thoughts I’d had when playing through the first level.
My video of a small playthrough:
For one, a lot of the sprites look vaguely like they’re from other games, yet only slightly altered. Sonja, for example, looks like a modified Soma Cruz or Juste Belmont. In her case, fair enough. As a matter of fact that’s seemingly true of most sprites in this version. And I guess, in addition to using the names of other Castlevania Protagonists, they happen to seem very similar to others as well. The problem in this version is when you get to the first boss.
I’m tolerably certain that the eyeball monsters that show up late game (and the third level in Chapter 2) are actually plagiarized from Terreria, as well. Before the changes which I know were done to this version, the boss of level 4 was Circle of the Moon’s Death Mantis. Early screenshots of the game before it went up on the Wii U eShop showed what happened to be Symphony of the Night’s harpy sprites in level 3. The music in level 3 (which you can still hear in my video)? Someone on Steam actually found a midi of the song it’s ripping off. Ezekiel denies all of it (both on Nintendo Life and Steam, in the comments on that review), saying these were placeholders he forgot to change, or things that were already changed or that the thing you allege is not in this version. This could easily go on, and even my best efforts probably wouldn’t turn up all the plagiarism. But the fact is, I could launch the game right now, and find several of these things still floating around, especially the music, alraune, and eyeball sprite.
The amount of asset theft going on wouldn’t be a problem in a free fan game. Ezekiel Rage charged $5 for the first chapter on Wii U, and is selling the Trilogy for $10 on Steam. If this was any other company than Konami getting primarily ripped off, I’d hope he’d made enough to cover the legal fees.
But as for the game itself? There are plenty of problems here. For one, Steam overlay doesn’t work with it. Which meant that I had trouble getting screenshots. The game performs okay; unless, of course, you’re recording it, which I wound up having to do to get screenshots. Running OBS tanked the game’s performance, making platforming nigh impossible, as shown in my video. And that’s saying something, since OBS’s on monitor recording was the only way I found to actually get video of the game.
Hitboxes, even after the recent patch, are still pretty bad. Which is not helped by the controls being very floaty and soft. There are a number of unused buttons, so it’s odd that something like sub weapons don’t have a designated button as far as I know. Not like that would help; Up+attack is only occasionally chainable, the rest of the time you can’t launch multiple sub weapons in a row.
The design is also awful. For example, in level 2 of the second Chapter, there is a dual spider boss which continually drops spider minions. There’s no limit to how many it will drop; most games would have a cutoff to make sure the player can manage both them and the boss. Flying enemies almost always seem to just home in on you, which is bad if they’re landing in a blind spot or you’re dealing with another enemy. Of the sub weapons, the only one that seems to be reliably useful is the shuriken. The holy water doesn’t seem to deal continual damage and requires a direct hit to deal any at all, and the axe is so slow that you’ll be lucky to hit anything with it. The sole healing sub weapon consumes energy so fast that you really should only use it in a pinch.
And the sound. Oh, boy. If you’ve heard this game, you’ve heard enough of it to sate your interest forever. But, as per the Steam review linked above, listen to the last half of this (starting at 1:30):
And then watch this (starting at 18:00), or in my video on Facebook linked above around 15:10 (yes, it’s still in the game!):
Given the massive amounts of plagiarism seemingly going on, I felt justified in instantly knocking 3 whole points from the score. I took another whole point for the design. I left it with a 1, because at least the dev seems dedicated to improving things (adding a save state feature), and the game is, at the very least, functionally playable. It’s not fun, but playable. If it weren’t for the issues mentioned, it’d be at least a 2.5, possibly a 3 at the highest. In a game you’re trying to sell, leaving in assets that aren’t yours is pretty taboo.
So, Overall? Citadale: The Legends Trilogy is a game you should probably steer clear of. Even if you’re mad at Konami. Even if you like Castlevania-like games. I also need to thank the Dev for reminding me of a 90’s Jonny Quest villain I’d forgotten about.
“Citadale: The Legends Trilogy draws a bit too much from its source material, and features far too many problems.”
*We were provided a copy of this game for review*