Castle Darkspire is the most spectacular map ever made by Heroic Maps and is a stunning work of artistry that is easily the equal of the famous Castle Ravenloft. Unfortunately it does have two major flaws, one of them is about what the Castle isn't and the other is about the specific layout of the Castle which in at least one instance is bizarre to the point of ridicolous. Normally such a thing would not be a problem but it concerns the most important area of the castle for any DM hoping to use this as a location for the final dungeon of a Campaign or as the finale of a sprawling adventure and that is, of course, the throne room.
In Castle Darkspire the Throne room is strangely remote and is tucked away at the top of the third floor, this is by itself curious but not really something that merits a deduction, it might even be an advantage as the throne room is often located too close for the entrance which can drastically reduce dungeon length. The actual problem is that there seems to be only one way to access the throne chamber and the path goes straight through the master bedchamber. If the throne room is the most public place in a castle then surely the bedchamber is the most intimate and for the two to be positioned so closely together strains suspension of disbelief. Throne rooms are the most natural place for a DM to prepare a big setpiece encounter and consequently are the area of any map that I scrutinize most closely.
Perhaps its second issue is a tad unfair but I think it is nonetheless extremely important to mention and that is the poor versatility of this product, it features all manner of things you'd expect from a gothic castle and this includes cobwebs, cobwebs, even more cobwebs, dirt and some additional cobwebs. Castle Darkspire is a castle for Undead generally and Vampires specifically and while it excels in this the bitter truth is that while all DMs will have great use for practically any and all castle maps this spectacular example is probably not what you're looking for 90% of the time as it fulfills a very specific fantasy, this would not be as much of an issue were it not for the fact that most other Castle maps are ALSO vampire castles that feature cobwebs and dirt prominently and thereby drastically reduce a DMs ability to use these stellar pieces for the countless other scenarios that he or she might desperately need a castle map for. In fact, another fantastic castle made by Heroic Maps is Schloss von Nachtherz and that TOO is a Vampire Castle with cobwebs.
Those are its issues as I see it, but make no mistake, this is a phenomenal map with dozens upon dozens of possible rooms, making it a megadungeon waiting to happen and if you DO need a Vampire Castle then either this or the recently updated Schloss von Nachtherz are easily the best options available. Regrettably though, the problems with the Castle are major enough that I'd consider it dishonest to award it anything more than 4 Stars. Though it very nearly earned a 5 Star rating regardless.
Hopefully this is useful for anyone deciding whether or not to buy this product.
Njål Randby Michaelsen.