Guard Duty (PC) Review
Retro Pixel Art Style
Strong voice acting
Length of play
Usually, when you make a mistake at work you’ll receive a reprimand. Sometimes you may get fired but rarely will your mistake set off a chain of events that will doom your world to a devastating hellscape for the end of time. Tonbert is not that lucky. Guard Duty, a point and click adventure game, follows the misadventure of a not-so-young guard Tonbert as he attempts to rescue the princess of Wrinklewood and stop a demonic invasion from destroying all that he knows and loves. First, however, he will need to find out where he left his pants…
Guard Duty has a nostalgic charm that fans of the genre will recognize. It’s as if its creators looked at their favorite old adventure games and made a checklist of things to include. You have a generic plot of rescuing someone. There is a well-meaning but slightly stupid protagonist. They included random puzzles and challenges that require out of the box solutions, humor that is either a pun or somewhat meta, and hidden references to other games. Unfortunately, they also decide to include a large amount of pointless interactions, items that are useless filler, and plot points that are abandoned just as quickly as they are brought up.
Most of the game follows the standard point and click format, with the left button being for action and the right button describes the item. Puzzles and challenges are solved by choosing the right found item at the right time, all standard for this genre. The interface is clean with the cursor easily distinguishing between interact-able objects. Character movement was mostly smooth but was hindered by the lack of keyboard control and inconsistent screen advancement. In addition to auto-saving, manual save points are available at any time, and while this option is welcome, the gameplay makes it mostly pointless. Those familiar to the genre will notice a bit of hand-holding when it comes to challenges early on, but it does help with pacing and will become less evident as the game progresses.
Graphics follow the pattern of borrowing from those that came before it, choosing to use a retro pixel style, creating colorful landscapes and characters that fit well with the tone of the plot. What was not charming, however, were the cut-scenes. Rather than use the existing art style, the developers chose to go with a more linear cartoon art that was reminiscent of Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon. The use of them is inconsistent and jarring, with the only positive being how few of them there are. Music is understated, limited to background simulated instrumentals but its thematic nature does enhance the setting. The voice acting, however, is very well placed and performed. Every character has a different tone which fits the personality, and every description includes a narration. It gives the story an unexpected depth that is appreciated as the plot progresses.
In the end, Guard Duty fails to stand out despite resting on the shoulders of giants. The mimicking of other games overshadows anything new leaving a lackluster story and an unfortunate sense of Deja Vu. However, fans of the genre should be able to find enough enjoyment to warrant a play through.