Hyakki Castle Explores Gaming's Past – Paste Magazine

Hyakki Castle has cat people in it. You could, if you wanted to, create an entire party of cat ninjas and samurai who will go forth and clear out an entire castle of traitors to the 17th century shogunate of Japan. This should be enough, but if it isn’t, the game is a great throwback to a form of RPG gameplay that extends all the way back to the era of Wizardry and Ultima. If that makes you excited, then Hyakki Castle is for you. If it doesn’t, then you’ve got a steep hill to climb.

Early tabletop roleplaying games were light on story and heavy on their dungeons. Running a very early game of Dungeons & Dragons in the 1970s was more about creating a fine-tuned tomb or wizard’s burrow that your players could storm in exchange for experience and loot. There would be monsters, and those monsters existed to stand in front of your players. Walking around and fighting are, all told, fairly simple things for a computer to model, so when the early 1980s rolled around, quite a few of these digital dungeon crawlers appeared. Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord released in 1981 for the Apple II, and hacking and slashing your way through a first-person death trap was the order of the day. People played it, and they enjoyed it.

Fast forward to 2017, and it’s hard to see roleplaying games that don’t have some kind of debt to Wizardry and its tabletop predecessors. What changed, though, was the narrative layer. Stories became more robust and complicated; the range of what players could do, what classes they could stock their party with, and how they could interact with their world became wider. The Might and Magic franchise carried these ideals the furthest, but as

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