Hazelnut Bastille lured me in with a cutesy name and a nostalgic, pastoral pixel-art covered website. It then proceeded to kick me repeatedly in the squishy parts, non-squishy parts, and parts that were pretty solid before all the kicking. I probably should have read developer Aloft’s promise that Hazelnut Bastille was a ‘frantically hectic challenge built for the craftiest thumbs’. I was expecting Stardew Valley with deeper combat. What I got was A Link to the Past on steroids.

Hazelnut Bastille Game
Cute right? You have no idea.

The level on offer in Hazelnut Bastille‘s roughly 30 minute demo is a dungeon in the purest sense of the term. Each enemy has some unique twist or attack pattern to differentiate the experience of fighting them, and that’s just individually. Certain combinations of foes require a mix of strategy and those crafty thumbs to triumph unscathed.

Luckily, there’s a surprising amount of depth to the combat. A shield, power attacks, good ol’ spin-to-wins, bombs and crossbows are all at your disposal from the get go. You’ll also gain an extra ability just in the short space of the demo, so I imagine the full release will be pushing your inventory space to its limits.

A tough nut to crack

The environments in Hazelnut Bastille are where it all comes together. In combat, much of the challenge and strategy lies in where to situate yourself. In exploration, it’s clear how much thought has gone into making the demo level both intuitive to new players and evocative of the secret-laden labyrinths from gaming’s venerable past.

Hazelnut Bastille Game
These deer weren’t in the demo, but they probably hunger for human flesh.

This reverence for the past with an eye to the future continues into Hazelnut Bastille‘s two most memorable elements – the puzzles and boss fights. I can’t really say much else without spoilers ,except to once again praise the environmental design, and strongly suggest you use a controller. Also, maybe buy a spare or two for the full release.

Hazelnut Bastille is set to release in 2018.  You can keep up with Aloft’s progress online until then.

Nic Reuben

Nic Reuben

Nic Reuben likes to pause games every five minutes to ponder the thematic implications of explosive barrel placement. When he's not having an existential crisis over CAPTCHA verifications that ask him to prove he's not a robot, he's reading sci-fi and fantasy short stories, watching cartoons, and mourning the writing standards in Game of Thrones.
Nic Reuben

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Games Words // He/Him // Rock Paper Shotgun, Eurogamer, Unwinnable, Kotaku UK, VG247, Zam, Critical Distance, Cliqist, Bloody Disgusting
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