It was alright. I liked it well enough to play through it, but I'm easy to please, in some regards, and I can see why others wouldn't enjoy it as much. I first did a complete peaceful stealth playthrough without killing anyone, and then re-played a few levels as ruthless killer. Both ways were quite easy; the peaceful playthrough can be accomplished by using just the basic stuff you learn in the tutorial, and without using any traps, but if you decide to just kill the guards, there's hardly any challenge in it at all, and you don't really need traps either.
Traps are fun and can actually make the game a bit more challenging, as e.g. explosions draw the attention of other guards further away, so you need to either hide the bodies quickly or deal with the new arrivals as well, as fast as possible. But traps are made from crafting materials you find in hidden or guarded chests, and there's only a limited number of chests and materials (once looted, a chest stays empty), so I guess you can use each type of trap only 1-3 times in the whole game or so, which is a bit disappointing. I tried to find all chests but never really used the traps I crafted (just once during the killer playthrough, to see how they worked).
The game has 15 levels, and while you can't save manually, you can access any level you've started and any checkpoint you've already passed from the main menu. Also, the levels are rather short, and so is the whole game (an everage playthrough should be around 5-7 hours, depending on your playstyle?). Frozenbyte has also added a free "Escape the Castle" campaign, which are essentially all 15 levels as re-worked versions to be played in reverse (personally I didn't bother with them though, so I can't judge how different they are; there is no extra story content connected to them and I didn't really feel motivated to see the same levels again, regardless of any changes to them). There's also a level editor and some custom levels available (at least in the Steam version).
The story is told through cutscenes at the beginning and the end of the game, as well as through bits of conversations between guards and voiceover dialogues between Shadwen and the orphan girl Lily on the loading screens between levels. There is no fully revealed linear plot here, you have to piece it all together yourself, and the dialogues between Shadwen and Lily change significantly depending on whether you let her witness your killings or not. I enjoyed this story-telling approach, even though the setting and the story remain quite simple and vague (which does not mean boring!).
I liked graphics and sound design, but it has to be said that there is some but not that much variation in the level design, it's mostly just the same city and castle walls, in- and outdoors. And there are only two types of enemies in the game, regular guards and more heavily armed guards (the latter aren't quite as easy to kill as the former, but still easy enough, and in a peaceful playthrough there isn't really a difference between the two apart from their looks). The AI is not particularly clever either.
The best thing about the game are the time mechanics. Time only flows when you move or keep the real-time button pressed, otherwise it stops. Which e.g. means you can jump, freeze in mid-air, and calmy aim your grappling hook at your next target, before allowing time to flow again. If you are spotted, or if you miss a jump, or if you killed someone and didn't mean to, you can just press a rewind button, rewind as far back as you like and try again. This might not be to everyone's taste, but for me, who's not a big fan of stealth games, it made things so much more enjoyable and fun, because it removes all the frustration I usually encounter in the genre. Theoretically it would also allow you to be violent and peaceful in one single playthrough, because you can experiment with the meanest ways to kill guards and then just rewind time and pretend it didn't happen. ;)
Post edited February 15, 2017 by Leroux