Monday 19 February 2024

Lil' Guardsman Review (Switch)


A good few years ago we reviewed a game by the name of Papers Please, which put players in the role of a check point operator with an ever-increasing number of tools at their disposal to judge who to let through. Lil’ Guardsman follows the same sort of scenario; all be it in a much more light-hearted and fantasy-based way.

The story follows the daughter of a guardsman who is asked by her father to take over the position as he needs to go out and bet on a local goblin ball game. With each passing day Lil finds herself operating the post again for various reasons and making judgments about who should be allowed into the kingdom.

Throughout the day creatures arrive and you’ll need to use your various tools and judgment to decide what their intentions are. You have five main tools – an X-ray machine, a whip, truth spray, metal detector and a decoder ring. The tools are all powered by crystals though so choosing what to use and when is key to getting all the information you need. You can also confiscate items from people which can then be used later and a phone where you can ring up a number of the kingdoms important residents to get advice.

To add challenge, each day comes with a host of rules and edicts to adhere to. These may range from simple things such as saying ‘no goblins today’ to more complex warnings about people in disguise or revolutionaries trying to make their way through. It all works remarkably well, and you never feel too overwhelmed.

The slightly undercooked part of the game comes in the form of a time machine which you acquire early on. Its basic use is to allow you to rewind time if you get something fatally wrong. This does remove serious threat from the game, but it works as a story focused point and click adventure with each person acting as an individual puzzle to solve so it’s not going to hinder your enjoyment. You can also go back and start the game from the beginning of each day as well if you want to really hunt for the maximum rating for each level.

Speaking of the rating, it is a bit confusing to start with how you get the best score for each person. We assumed it was making the correct decision as quickly as possible by using the least tools but often that is not the case. Much of the time you get a higher score from finding out the most information. At the end of each day, you’ll then get a summary of how you did and what each person went on to do once they had made their way into the kingdom.

Occasionally you’ll also get to wander around when you have finished your shift and visit various other locations. There isn’t much to do at these apart from speak to people but it’s a welcome change of pace and allows you to catch up with a few of characters you have allowed in, as well as understanding what’s going on in the kingdom as the story continues to unfold.

Overall, Lil’ Guardsman is a fun, if slightly light weight, take on the point and click genre. There are still ideas left to explore for this sort of check point sub-genre and much of the game works very well. There are a few moments when it becomes a bit of a drag and a bit more guidance from the start about score would be welcome, but this is a well put together game that is full of charm and it’s hard to see anyone really disliking.

Overall 8/10

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