[Update: DevilishGames has addressed David’s question about character naming.]
Well, young adventurer, welcome to the Castle Anthrax. No, wait…this is a different castle. No Zoot here, just King Lucas.
On your way into the castle, you will be briefed by the king. You get to start with some of the standard mission goals: kill the monsters, save the princess, survive if you can.
Before you enter the castle, you have to read what the king has to say to you. This is expected and, the first time around, somewhat helpful. The problem is every time you have to start over you get to go through the whole intro speech again, which gets old pretty quickly. There are some changes in the intro speech as you reach your rescue quota and new persons (or animals) are added. With each new rescue, the amount of the castle available to you increases. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to travel all the way through because the game places the rescu-ee in a random location each time. You might have to go through ten rooms, or only three.
The game does provide a map of the open areas and your location so you can—sort of—plan your search pattern.
King Lucas works with either the direction arrows or WASD to move around, and the space bar to use your weapon. Since it is only 2D, the up arrow/W work for jumping and climbing ladders. There are coins to collect with which you can buy weapon upgrades, health potions, invincibility potions, or anything else you can afford in the “store.” You will also find keys along the way, and you will want to gather all of these; you’ll need them to open doors and continue to search the castle.
The monsters you encounter will get progressively worse; you start with slugs which look like the dreaded dodge ball from junior high—bouncing around and creeping along the floor. Then come the skeletons, wizards, cyclopses (cyclopsi? you know what I mean…), etc. At the beginning, don’t be fooled by the bouncy nature of the slugs; you don’t have much armor and they will kill you quickly if you let them touch you. Keep swinging your sword, but be aware your sword only has so many hits before it expires. Your dagger lasts forever, but the rest of your weapons have a duration, which is a bit odd. I get the whole buying upgrades to create more powerful weapons and guns running out of ammo, but swords?
One other oddity of note is the game doesn’t seem to want to let me name my character. It picked up an e-mail address and plonked it in the character name, and there is no apparent utility to change it. Hmm.
[Updated on January 9, 2017. From DevilishGames: “…the game picks de name of the hero from the Steam account ID. Usually this one is an username, but apparently he’s using his email as ID en Steam so the game uses that. If he change this in the Steam account config, it will be reflected in the game too ;-)”]
So Here It Is:
The castle crawl plays a bit like an old-school Mario game with plenty of exploration, running, jumping, swimming, etc. The timing of jumps, fighting of monsters, and navigation the castle is challenging enough to make King Lucas a decent play. All you have to do is get past some of the minor annoyances.