Castle Renovator is a shameless attempt to take House Flipper and put it in medieval times. Unfortunately, it features zero of its charm or quality. You’ll clean, mend, and build your own medieval town and castle, and it’s never fun. Still, some may love the concept so let’s get into the fine details of what Castle Renovator is and where it fails so severely.
The first thing you’ll be met with in Castle Renovator is a poor-looking world that suffers from both poor performance and massive pop-in. Texture quality is low, the geometry constantly breaks, and as you walk you’ll be met with pop-in 10 or so feet in front of you at a truly ridiculous pace. Things start out slow, as you clean a few areas up and lightly repair them. To do this you’ll use a clunky UI system for choosing each tool and then struggling to aim with the right stick with them. I can overlook graphical issues if the gameplay holds up, but the imprecise movement and camera control are a constant source of frustration. Early tasks see you using a broom to sweep up muck, which can also just turn into your hands as you pick up trash or piles of wood. Once you’ve picked up enough wood a neat little bundle will form and you can transport it in your cart. Picking this pile up and moving it feels horrible and I routinely missed the target when trying to place it where I wanted.
Later levels see you start to use the building system. It’s your typical grid-based snap-together system, but once again the UI used for choosing building pieces is atrocious to use. It can take forever to find what you’re looking for, and half the time pieces don’t fit together correctly. This only becomes more of an issue as you progress from simple homes to the titular Castles. Every issue is amplified as the areas become larger, textures are stretched even further, and controls become less capable of dealing with the newfound heights. There is a small selection of online music library-sounding tunes constantly droning in the background that rarely fit the theme of the game. Sound effects are poor, and the audio mix is muddled to the point of giving one a headache.
The setup of the game sees you getting quests from both tutorials and a town billboard. Navigating through this UI is even worse than all the others, and the instructions in your quests can be vague or full of things like “cleaning done 87/88”. It could take me 30 minutes sometimes to find the ugly smudge texture hiding under a barrel in a far distant corner of the level before I was allowed to call the job done and move on. Every quest earns you gold, which you will use when building or unlocking new building pieces through the world’s easiest sliding block puzzle game. Unlike most sliding block puzzles you can move whatever piece you want anywhere, making them a no longer than 15-second issue throughout the game.
I pushed for eight hours in my playthrough and if I hadn’t been playing it for this review I would have given up after eight minutes. Castle Renovator plays poorly, doesn’t look good in any way, and had a litany of bugs for me. I played on an Xbox Series X and suffered multiple hard locks and crashes. It didn’t matter if I used Quick Resume or not, the game never felt stable over long periods of playtime. There is also the issue that, best I can tell, this game was originally called Castle Flipper and it had a logo that looked exactly like House Flipper’s. You can see the “inspiration” here at every turn, but all of the charm, wit, and skill behind that title is missing.
The idea of cleaning, repairing, and building ancient European houses and castles was an appealing one. Unfortunately, Castle Renovator fails to be enjoyable by any metric.