Ever picked up that game which sits there on your homescreen mocking you. Whether it be because you don’t like it and you’re stuck with it or becuase you can’t do it. Who am I kidding we’ve all done that at some point in our lives. Sadly with Cardboard Castle the same rings true on PS Vita, however which feeling it gives is rather harder to place a finger on.
We may as well start with a nice note here. Using the Vita’s OLED screen the game does look crisp and well designed. Animations are nil to none existant because it’s all pieces of cardboard but while there’s nothing to give them here there’s nothing to take away. It’s all well presented and even the sounds are nice enough to listen to with footsteps, animal noises and crashes that don’t sound as though they were made on a 70’s Stylophone. Even the tales are passable. You play as a series of characters through a series of small puzzles to an eventual goal, collecting gold on the way. Gold is used for hints which again are well presented and give you important hints.
Problem is though…
The puzzles themselves are very restrictive instead of allowing for a great deal of experimentation to reach the final goal. Perhaps we have been spoilt as a populous but when other puzzle titles offer puzzles which can be solved a number of ways Cardboard Castle feels somewhat archaic on a PS Vita. For those of you who haven’t tried it yet and are thinking about it, the puzzles are laid out in a selection of objects which you manipulate to interact with one another to complete the desired goal. Now we all enjoy playing around in puzzles such as these to find all the ways we can to achieve them but Cardboard Castle gives you only one way. Unless you follow the prescribed order exactly you cannot get any further.
If you enjoy something this linear and being pushed through one tunnel to get to your goal then Cardboard Castle may be for you, but most of us enjoy the discovery of new methods. Ways to complete tasks which others may not think of. Yes most puzzles do only have one solution but in Cardboard Castle you find yourself not even wanting to experiment because next to nothing is explained. For example it took 10 minutes of random clicking and moving just to work out a cow can kick a knight into a hole. Ten minutes, in a game which costs very little and doesn’t have any flashy visuals to keep you interested. Even the control system which should simply be a touch what you want to do method feels lumpen and rooted, not to mention unresponsive.
As stated before the hints in Cardboard Castle are well represented as they stand. Having said that, they are often not the hint you needed to help you progress. I actually let my younger cousin who is 9, the kind of age group a game of this type looks like it is aimed at, and asked her to give it a play. She’s a smart young girl and is already better at Sudoku puzzles than me and most of the family. Instead of her enjoying it or it making her thing, the game reduced her to near tears.
Probably Cardboard Castle’s major downside though is that fun doesn’t exist within it. Even those bad games which make our eyes weep and our bowels shudder had fun moments. They might be you laughing at their idiotic ideas or watching a character bug through a wall. Even being able to joke with a friend about what happened. Cardboard Castle just lacks anything good to recommend purchasing or even downloading it for free on another device. If you have it for Vita, like I did, then prepare for a whole world of watching that bubble bounce on your home screen until you delete it.