Roundguard PS4 Review – A Well-Rounded RPG!
Developed By: Wonderbelly Games
Published By: The Quantum Astrophysicists Guild
Arcade, Puzzle, RPG
Castle Springbottom is under attack! It’s up to the Roundguard to save the king and — more importantly — recover his gold! Fling your hero into the face of danger and bounce off hordes of dangerously cute monsters to reach the bottom of the dungeon. With only one life, you’ll need to learn how to navigate hazards, make strategic choices, and master your hero’s skills if you hope to defeat the final boss. But don’t worry, the Roundguard always bounces back!
I have always been a huge fan of games that effortlessly mesh together several genres and Roundguard is no exception. On the surface, you’ll be forgiven for thinking that this is just another bog-standard “puzzle-pop” style game or “Angry Birds” clone. However, dig a little deeper and the true game really shines through.
Aside from the aforementioned puzzle aesthetic, Roundguard is an action RPG with some nice “Rogue-Like” elements thrown into the mix. You are given the choice of three playable characters to start your run. The Warrior, The Rogue and The Wizard, each with their own distinct look, play-style and sense of humour.
The rules are kept nice and simple here. Once you have picked your fighter, you begin your quest to rescue the king. To do this, you must descend through several layers of the dungeon. Sound simple? Think again. You only have one life in which to succeed and herein lay the rogue elements. Any health and mana you gather or lose will carry through to the next room or floor. Die anywhere in the dungeon and that’s the end of your run.
Fear not, however, as all the loot, armour, weapons and trinkets you obtain in the many encounters, boss fights and treasure rooms are yours to keep for any subsequent runs. So you could say (without sounding too cliche) that death is not the end, instead, you gradually become more powerful with each failed run.
As soon as you begin your first run, you’ll notice a rather quirky little design shift. A stage? Curtains? What’s this? That’s right, you are actually taking part in a stage performance of sorts, complete with narrator and presenter.
This brief introduction to the game also serves as your tutorial, fourth-wall-breaking quips notwithstanding. Pick a character and the presenter will guide you through their class abilities and control schemes. All very helpful, whilst keeping explanations brief and comical. Speaking of which, your choice of fighters are as follows;
The Warrior – Flagon: This is your middle-of-the-road grunt. While he may not particularly excel in any given discipline, he has a lot of health, deals considerable damage to his foes and is a well-rounded (sorry) combatant to ease you in gently.
The Rogue – Shade: Shade is a far more tactical fighter. What she lacks in toughness, she makes up for in battle dynamic. After launching Shade, you can deploy her special ability, the “double jump”. Simply hold down Square, aim with the Left Stick, and release. This comes in especially handy if you fancy a second crack at an enemy, or simply if you missed the first time!
The Wizard – Fizz: No dungeon crawling party would be complete without a magic user right? Well, Fizz has you covered. Naturally, Fizz starts with, by far the most amount of mana of the trio. Her starting ability is Thundershock. You’ll notice two thunder bugs moving up and down both the left and right sides of the screen. When the lines that join Fizz to the bugs line up with a foe, simply hit Square to fire a bolt of electricity out. This comes in handy for dealing extra damage and also deals shock damage over time.
Enter The Fungeon
So now that you’ve chosen your fighter and have been acquainted with their move set, go forth and save the king! To do this will require you to negotiate the treacherous dungeon. Starting at The Keep, you must work your way through several rooms. Each room contains its own set of baddies, elite baddies, boss or loot.
Controls are kept relatively simple and those familiar with games like Bubble Bobble and Angry Birds will feel right at home. At the start of each room and each turn you get, you have to aim your character with the left stick, who is subsequently nestled in a canon at the top of the screen. Fire them out by hitting X and watch the carnage ensue.
Be careful where you fire them though because as well as you doing damage to the enemy on impact, they can also deal damage to your fighter. As well as this, there is also a perilous spike-covered floor awaiting you at the bottom of the screen. With only a small springboard which shoots back and forth like a shuttle, ready to save you from damage.
Though don’t be put off by the single-life mechanic that has been implemented here. There is normally ample chance to replenish your health and mana by hitting the many corresponding pots in each room. This adds a great sense of tactical gameplay throughout as you plan each move you make, whilst trying to accrue the least damage.
As well as being littered with enemies, each room has plenty of pots of gold lying around. Hitting these will add to your gold stash, which can be used at the end of each run to claim prizes. Once each room has been completed, you’ll get a choice of which branch to take, represented by labelled pots at the bottom of the screen.
One of the aspects of Roundguard that caught my eye right away was the comic book aesthetic. Each character, enemy and boss have their own cutesy cartoon look. Both the in-game sprites and the brief intervals in between battles where the characters and enemies take a time out to trash-talk each other, all the artwork is lovingly hand-drawn.
The music is also very fitting for the medieval setting too, whilst also maintaining a fun and upbeat feel to match the rest of the game. I definitely feel that the sound effects were where the game really shined. Each hit, sword swipe, thundershock and poisoning really carried a surprising amount of impact.
Sadly, there was no voice acting here, which I felt could’ve added to the many conversations and quips; the gibberish was still very well done and suited each character.
Did I mention the wheel of fortune mini-game at the end of each run? That’s right. All the gold you collect from each run isn’t for making purchases, instead, the more gold you can stash away, the more panels of the wheel are removed, in turn improving the prizes you can win and use for the next run.
I had a great time with Roundguard, which says a lot as I’m really not a fan of Rogue-Like games as I feel they don’t respect my time and are thus very troublesome to review. So it goes without saying then, that if someone like me can have a good time, you will too.
Everything ran nice and smooth with crisp graphics, fantastic sprite-work and superb audio design. Controls are simple and easy to learn and most importantly, the gameplay is very fun and addictive.
Strangely, there wasn’t any kind of multiplayer from what I could see, which I found a little odd. There was, however, online leaderboards, which I feel is a must for these style of games. Furthermore, the world rankings refresh weekly which should get much competitive juice flowing.
With that said, I feel some may find this game a little on the short side. Dependant on skill level, each run can be completed in a single sitting and with only 3 playable characters, some may feel a bit short-changed.
I feel like some different game modes, multiplayer or even just some unlockable characters could have mitigated this and would add longevity. With that said, I feel Wonderbelly Games really knocked it out of the park with this one and I look forward to their future titles.
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Reviewed by Micramanic on PS4. Game provided by The Quantum Astrophysicists Guild.