Mogeko Castle PC Developed by Deep-Sea Prisoner Released in 2012
April Fools Day, an annual tradition that many news sites adore. At Rely on Horror we always plotted for weeks what kind of weird, fake news we could publish to trick our readers on this one, beautiful day where we can throw journalistic integrity to the wind. Since we don’t cover news on this website we had to come up with something else, so, from this day forth, we shall use April Fools Day to review weird games. First up: Mogeko Castle. Moge!
Play with Moge-tan ❤
I should preface this review by saying that the contents of this game are very risque and may offend or disgust some people. That is because we play as Yonaka Kurai, a Japanese highschool student that is travelling home to meet her older brother, who she hasn’t seen in a long time. While taking the train she dozes off for just a moment, only to wake up at an unknown stop with no way back. When she heads into the nearby forest she is assaulted by a group of strange monsters, only to end up trying to hide in a castle that is filled with the buggers! While many of the games covered here feature monsters in some form or another, what makes this title NSFW is the fact that in this game, they are clearly out to rape Yonaka.
The Mogeko, as these monsters are called, are the stars of this game. They are horrible creatures: violent, perverse, ill-tempered, and vulgar, but also utterly ridiculous. What they want to do to Yonaka is despicable, but watching them trying to capture her is hilarious, as they are also really dumb and constantly manage to surprise you. Their cute design and crazy mannerisms make them unique among video game villains, and it’s impressive that sometimes the Mogeko can be threatening and fearsome, while at other times they are just a comedic relief.
Yonaka herself makes for a good protagonist for this kind of game. She is expressive, both in her design and dialogue. When things are serious and she is threatened you can expect her to be frightened and run away, but when the more comedic side of the game shines through she adapts just as well. She always matches whatever tone the game is currently setting and it’s hard not to feel a little for her as the game progresses, but she is not spotless. Her relationship with her brother is a returning theme, as the game shows you brief flashbacks about them, but halfway through and onward this aspect of her personality loses focus in favor of developing Yonaka’s friendship with characters that are actually present. Despite playing a big role in all the different endings (barring the “bad” ones), this part of the plot is just not that interesting.
It’s difficult to really describe what playing Mogeko Castle is like, since the gameplay only exists when it feels like it. At first it seems like the game is about exploring the castle to find a way forward, but only a few spaces allow for a little bit of exploration to take place, with most others being linear paths with single side-rooms. The joy in the game lies in experiencing its crazy world, so you just interact with everything you come across to see what strange dialogue might pop up, and you keep going forward to see what bizarre plot twist might happen next.
The game does try to vary it up with chase sequences, which are all kind of terrible. Most have you run through a series of corridors as Mogeko spawn in to chase you. As long as you take the corners well they can’t catch up with you, and the clumsy Mogeko are prone to getting stuck anyway, but there are many branches to the path and doors that fake you out. Picking the wrong door or heading the wrong way is a death sentence that you can’t recover from and there is no indication of which might be the right one, so a few of these you just replay over and over again until you found the right way through process of elimination.
Fortunately, these segments are kind of rare and don’t last long enough to frustrate. If you are willing to play a game just to experience a writer’s bizarre fantasy world, then Mogeko Castle really delivers in that regard. The story has a few blemishes, but by the end of it I was 100% invested in the characters and their adventure through the castle.
Story & Gameplay score: 8/10
It doesn’t take much effort to notice that Mogeko Castle was crafted in the RPG Maker framework, as it’s menu structure and style of gameplay are easily recognizable. I am always kind of skeptical when it comes to RPG Maker, but developer Deep-Sea Prisoner really succeeded in making the game feel significant and personal.
First off, the sprites in this game are beautiful and varied, barring the countless Mogeko that largely use the same sprite. A lot of effort has been put into the art, with many areas you only visit once utilizing entirely unique tilesets and styles, not seen anywhere else in the game. Even more impressive are the varied images that show up whenever characters speak. Yonaka especially has dozens of images representing different emotions and reactions, all of which look fantastic. Some story events also utilize drawings (see above), as opposed to scripting out sequences with the in-game graphics, and these too change slightly to present the reactions of the characters. The effort is much appreciated and makes it much easier to make your way through a game so reliant on dialogue and cutscenes.
I often struggle to really comment or even notice music in games, but here the soundtrack was very noticeable. A lot of tunes really stuck out and ended up on my music playlist, though that might be because I have a soft spot for music that sounds “castle-y” for lack of a better word. Also nice are the small bits of voice acting used to lend an extra creepy tone to the Mogeko and the clever bits of sound-design utilized from time to time.
Presentation score: 10/10
All the different ways to die
The game features a number of different endings to work towards, with two of them being conclusive endings. Those two are the normal ending and the true ending, though they are referred to by other names in the game itself. The setup for this split is a tad strange, since the criteria for the normal ending require you to kill at least one of your friends, even though doing so makes almost no sense, unless you really mistrust one of them. Oddly enough, this ending is the more satisfying of the two, with the true ending being way too open. Besides these endings you can find several extra ones that are non-standard game overs, including some really creepy ones.
In the post-game you also unlock an extra room with some bonus scenes and dialogue to discover, but only if you got the true ending. This is a fun extra for those that enjoyed the game to look back on the adventure and read some character biographies.
Extras score: 8/10
Neither an RPG nor a puzzle game, Mogeko Castle is a game you play simply for the experience of it. It’s a linear game that you could rush through in an hour if you ignore everything, but it makes you want to talk to every NPC and interact with every object to see what might happen. The game is filled with hilarity and varies it up with horror scenes, both of which, remarkably, manage to be effective. Tons of effort has been put into the presentation of the game and by the end of it really manages to make you feel with the characters.
It’s free if you are willing to browse around the web for an English translation, so if any of this piqued your interest, then I can highly recommend it.