Also on: PC, Xbox One
Publisher: Ultimate Games
Developer: Ultimate Games
Even though the last job simulator I played by Ultimate Games was Train Station Renovation, and seeing as that seemed to fall roughly in the same category as this one ? albeit on a theoretically much smaller scale ? that gave me reason to hope that Castle Renovator might be just as good.
For starters, it?s not really about renovating castles so much as it?s a vaguely medieval-themed clean-up game. You start off the game with a plot of land, and you slowly improve it as you take on and complete more quests, except nearly all of the quests can be boiled down to: clean up this plot of land that?s fallen into disrepair. You pick up garbage, you wipe off stains, you light some lamps, and occasionally you carry a box out to your cart ? all to a score that sounds vaguely medieval.
While there?s nothing inherently wrong with that ? again, see Train Station Renovation ? in this case it?s just not very fun. Part of this is because of the controls: you basically press R2 to do everything, so the gameplay just consists of walking around looking for things that prompt you to press the button. It starts feeling repetitive pretty quickly, as you might imagine.
On top of that, though, Castle Renovator doesn?t make it easy on you. Some of the items you need to pick up are tiny, and you need to be focused perfectly on each one of them to ensure they?re picked up. Consequently, you?ll spend a fair amount of time slowly inching back and forth, trying to find the perfect angle.
Even worse, both the visuals and the lighting are awful, and it?s very easy to overlook your surroundings given how dark everything looks. You unlock a torch early on, but that doesn?t help much. There?s also no way to adjust the brightness in the settings menu, so you basically just have to live with the fact you can?t see anything for a fair chunk of the game.
Unfortunately, Castle Renovator doesn?t get any better when you get into the actual building renovations. Fixing up walls, floors, and trebuchets (medieval!) requires picking up a few loose pieces of wood at a time, slowly walking over to where you?re fixing, placing them just so, then walking back to pick up more wood. Rather than being fun in a zen kind of way, it feels like tedious extra work.
Further, while Castle Renovator doesn?t have too many of the same tiny little items that made Motorcycle Mechanic Simulator 2021 a disaster, it still has the same affection for difficult-to-navigate menus. This means you spend lots of time making sure you?re holding down just the right buttons to get to where you?re trying to go, and lots of time searching around menus for specific items, and, eventually, lots of time manoeuvring around until you find just the right spot for placing items.
And even if you do all this, what?s your reward? Not nearly enough castles. Rather, you?ll spend a lot of time building and repairing small huts, as you build your way up (pun not intended) to being allowed to play with castles. Given that castles are right there in the game?s name, it feels like a bit of a bait-and-switch.
But even if Castle Renovator delivered on exactly what its name promised, I have a hard time imagining it?d be much more fun. There?s a way to make these job sims fun, and a way to make them feel like a dull slog, and every design decision here ensures that this game falls squarely in the latter camp.
Ultimate Games provided us with a Castle Renovator PS4 code for review purposes.