What a surprise! Yon Astounding Castle! of some sort by Tiberius Thingamus may not be the best game in the competition, or the most original, or best designed, but it might just go down as my favorite.
Yon Astounding Castle!, like Spelunkers Quest, is another treasure hunt in a cave castle. However, it proves that, with a little stylistic flair, the genre isn’t imaginatively bankrupt. The game is about a generic adventure fellow who is searching an abandoned castle for ten magical treasures. What sets the game apart from other treasure hunts is its wonderful, clever writing. The game opens as such:
Outside Yon Castle
Ye standeth at ye edge of ye forest outside yon castle, which is surrounded by yon moat. Yon drawbridge in ye east is up, preventing ye entry into yon castle. Nearby there groweth yon nut tree.
Yes, the entire game is written in this faux medieval style. Some people may be turned off by this or find it annoying. It never bothered me. Mostly because “yon” is a intrinsically funny word. I though the writing was quite clever. For example, yon nut tree is described as “tall and nutful,” and when trying to examine the tree’s nut you are asked “Please be more clear, what do ye want to examine? Ye nut or yon nuts?” I love that ye and yon are item adjectives.
I also liked that Thingamus drops out of the fake style from time to time. It gives the game an irrevent feel that I enjoyed.
That would taketh ye away from yon castle. Besides, yon forest hath poison ivy & poison ivy-like plants, and ye wanteth not to risketh getting that. Also, wolves. And, like, monsters.
This irreverential tone extends in the gameplay. The game can be beaten at any point by simply typing “win.” There are ten different endings available depending on how many treasure you have when you “win.” For example, winning with no treasures get’s you the following:
Ye returneth from yon castle empty-handed and quite disappointed with yeself.
Ye spendeth ye rest of ye life complaining and picking at ye scabs for leisure. When ye hath time away from that, ye filleth in for ye lad who licketh yon stamps for ye living when he falleth ill from yon stamp poisoning. Ye doth not lasteth very long, and soon perisheth from ye lack of sustenance & sustenance-type things.
What’s more, each ending plays on the previous one. When you win with one treasure you’re told how you rose to the position of permanent stamp licker. The continuity in the endings adds a nice little narrative to what is largely, though not entirely, a plotless game. The game has some nice puzzles, though they are of the sort where your traversing back and forth across the map to get items to solve other puzzles to get items. My favorite was one where you have to use magic glasses to examine a thing so closely you see the one pixel that’s out of place.
Yon Astounding Castle! is a wonderful burrito of a game. It’s well made with good, if old-fashioned, puzzles wrapped in a fun old english tortilla and smothered with a heaping of irrevernce. Highly recommended.