REVIEW – Fireplace Games’ debut transports players into a vibrant, humorous, and action-packed quest. Wield your blade alongside a fearless and outspoken heroine as you take on a sinister count. But will its flair and narrative charm have staying power, or will its appeal fade quickly?
The realm of adventure films and novels may have introduced many to the “swashbuckler” genre, where our protagonists fight for justice and love with swords in hand. Think Zorro, Robin Hood, and D’Artagnan. The gaming industry has also drawn from this source of inspiration, with titles such as Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag, The Curse of Monkey Island, and Prince of Persia. Fireplace Games’ En Garde! fits neatly into this category, letting players embark on an adventure with the young and daring Adalia de Volador as she stands up to a tyrannical count and his cohorts during the Spanish Golden Age.
The highlight of the game is undoubtedly its fencing mechanics-deep and varied. Players will need quick reflexes to dodge enemy blows, and they should also take advantage of their surroundings. Jump onto a table, topple a chandelier, or throw an apple at an opponent. The constant banter between Adalia and her enemies during these skirmishes creates a fun and energetic atmosphere. The game features a variety of enemies, each challenging the player in a unique way, from armored knights vulnerable only from behind to archers that must be dealt with quickly.
Beyond combat, exploration is essential. The game world is exquisitely crafted and teems with secrets and side quests. Roam freely through the city, interacting with its inhabitants, trading with them, or helping them. There’s even more to explore outside the city – cave systems, forests, and palaces. Easter eggs based on movies and games such as Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and The Legend of Zelda pepper the game.
Overcoming clichés? Not quite.
Unfortunately, the story doesn’t break free from tired tropes; it’s predictable and full of clichés. The orphaned Adalia suddenly finds herself at the nexus of the story through an unforeseen inheritance: her father protected something from the nefarious Count as part of a secret society. When Adalia inherits her father’s sword and diary, they unravel dark secrets and reveal the Count’s threats against her. After these discoveries, she vows revenge and is determined to thwart the count’s evil plans.
The story lacks twists, and character depth leaves much to be desired. Despite Adalia’s undeniable bravery, her character development is minimal, often reduced to her blade and courage. Although the game’s tone remains lighthearted, it misses opportunities for emotionally charged, dramatic moments.
A bit too kitschy…
The game’s visuals and sounds evoke mixed feelings. The graphics dazzle players with vibrant colors and meticulous detail, but at times it feels overly artistic or cartoonish. The characters look unfinished, and their animations can feel artificial. The music, while fitting, isn’t as memorable or intricate as one might hope.
Over time, the gameplay can become repetitive, lacking significant variety or fresh twists in skirmishes and map exploration. In conclusion, while En Garde! serves as an entertaining action-adventure centered around fencing and humor, it’s not without its flaws. Its predictable story is full of clichés, and the main character often falls flat. Its graphics and sound are mediocre at best. Recommended for those who enjoy humorous, action-oriented adventures and aren’t necessarily fans of deep storytelling or character development.
+ Enjoyable and varied sword fighting
+ Humorous and energetic atmosphere
+ Beautifully crafted and detailed world
– Stylized, clichéd story
– Boring and flat protagonist
– Gameplay becoming monotonous
Publisher: Fireplace Games
Developer: Fireplace Games
Release: August 9, 2023.