Last year, a movie called The Purge was released. In this futuristic thriller, people watched as a 12-hour Purge would happen once every year as a cathartic release. Some people would barricade themselves inside their homes, filled with defenses, while others would set out to harm and steal from their fellow man.
Jason Rohrer’s The Castle Doctrine has convinced me I would never survive such an event. I’ve lived 10 lives in two hours, and each one had similar results. My home would be invaded. I’d quickly be broken. More often than not, my family would die. Then, sooner or later, my character would join them. Initially, I was the cause of my own downfall, due to not properly setting up traps. Later, it was always because of other people’s machinations.
The The Castle Doctrine beta is enlightening for a number of reasons. For one, I’m not nearly as clever as past puzzle games I’ve played have led me to believe. The Castle Doctrine starts players off in an empty home with $2,000 and a wife, son, daughter, and empty vault. The year is 1991 and everyone is out to get everyone else. Your only defense is to use your starting funds, and whatever you earn and can steal, to protect your home while also outfiting yourself to break into others.
There is no tutorial. There are no explanations. The only assistance you can find comes from fan-created guides online, of which there aren’t too many, given the early nature of The Castle Doctrine. Everything is up to trial and error. If you die, you start over in an empty house with $2,000 again and a whole new family. The only thing you retain is the memory of what you learned in previous playthroughs, and the knowledge that probably every other player knows more than you. You know there’s a way through their defense maze without tools, because they couldn’t upload the house without one, but who knows if you’ll be able to find it.
Especially because, lesson two, other players are cheap. For every house with an amazingly elaborate maze or grid of electrified floor panels tripped by switches, chihuahuas, and cats, there are three with homes filled with pitbulls. Seriously, people, you do not need that many pitbulls. Stop being cheap, and start using brain-power to handle robbers.
Which brings us to lesson three. Luck has had a lot to do with my success in The Castle Doctrine‘s beta. Sometimes, someone will come in and fall victim to your fiendish plot. Other times, they won’t. You have to hope you were clever enough to take someone down so you can collect their bounty. If you invade someone else’s place, you might be fortunate enough to find the vault and perhaps even take down his wife so you get half of his cash. More likely, pitbull spam will make you puppy chow.
Yet, all this knowledge pales when compared to the ultimate lesson the Castle Doctrine beta has to teach. Death happens. It doesn’t matter how amazing your home is, how much money you have, or how prepared you are. All it takes is one slip. It’s gone and you’re left back at the beginning, in a new home, with a new family, $2,000 and the knowledge you accumulated from your previous life. One minute, I had built a sufficient compound that managed to take down a player with a $3,200 bounty after he had killed my wife, Tracy, and kids Kayla and Jerry. The next, a pitbull filled home took me down.
The Castle Doctrine will officially launch on January 29, 2014. It is currently $8 through the official website, will be $12 during launch week, and will go up to $16 on February 5, 2014.
Site [Castle Doctrine]