The hangover of all hangovers
We all enjoy a tipple or two to celebrate our birthdays, but imagine having to work a night shift completely sloshed, you’d probably make a mistake or two? Wouldn’t ever result in a princess going missing though? Or would it?
This review for Guard Duty was from initially a Steam preview key which was updated to a review version provided to Geek.Sleep.Rinse.Repeat from a PR consultancy on behalf of Sick Chicken Studios / Digital Tribe.
Background of the game
The games opening sequence starts with you taking cover from what appears to be an alien / bug. The world around looks very cyberpunk. What appears to be a laser starts and seemingly grows and grows till what looks like the whole planet is cut in half.
Rewind 1000 years previously and we’re introduced to Tondbert, who is rather drunk while on ‘guard duty’ for the castle of Wrinklewood. Due to his inept state of mind, Tondbert is tricked into letting a hooded figure into the castle grounds.
Awakening the next morning finding he’d been locked into his quarters with no official guard uniform, Tondbert has to put together bits of his night before akin to the Hangover films and find his uniform. During this he discovers that somehow during the night the Princess Theremin was kidnapped in the night. The King has dispatched his finest men to track the Princess down, but Tondbert thinks of them as old and not up to the task.
It’s up to him to point and click his way through the Wildlands and Deadwoods into the North to find his missing love.
Meanwhile… in 2074, “The war is long over, the planet is lost. Humanity’s last hope for salvation lies off-world, in a small orbital station where a Resistance group calling themselves the ‘Guardians of New Haven’ are plotting a grand scheme, one that could change the course of history. Take control of Agent Starborn, as he fights his way to the top, to overcome evil and take back Earth.”
What do you do?
Taking inspiration from the classic point and click genre, Guard Duty’s visuals and game play is a game that pays homage to the kings of the genre from old. As touched on above, you take control as 2 different hero’s in completely contrasting settings and time zones.
The puzzles are more streamlined and while some of the earlier puzzles are kind of fetch quests the majority of them are simpler and for the most part are solvable within upon initially discovering the issue. Some of the puzzles use a bit of imagination (capturing a frog to kiss an old lady to get your clothes back, but how to catch that frog?? hmmm?) But for the most part they can simply be solved by looking at the environments around you. Even just talking to NPC’s for extended duration helped resolve one puzzle with regards to the actual disappearance of the Princess.
Throughout the game a list within your inventory is updated with the next puzzles or parts of your adventure you need to take on. It’s a useful list, but with regards to keeping you on track, but sometimes is no help at all. “Get an ID fake or real”. Okay. “Kill the giant spider”, yup pretty sure I could have called that one, but when stuck in a labyrinth with what seems like nothing around and seemingly nothing in your inventory to assist, you wish it might have a tad more detail to it. Defeats the idea of the puzzle I guess, but it wouldn’t hurt to include a bit more detail.
The game itself has some moments of humour and also some shout outs to other popular video games. Within the first few moments of exploring Wrinklewood you come across an assassin with a broken leg next to a pale of hay begging for money. This reference should be fairly obvious. As well as meeting ‘Soiled Snake’.
The game’s references to modern terms continues as DLC and GDPR are all brought into the game whilst in a setting 1000 years ago.
Look and feel
Visually the games pixel art style set upon flat back drop environments works perfectly for the genre of the game. It’s a huge throw back to the games of old. There is a lot of audio in the game, all characters interactions are voiced which is actually a nice addition to the game considering how text heavy the game is when attaining clues from other characters. Hearing them out and talk to you helps to retain some of the information, as does the list tracker mentioned above.
All the voice overs help to maintain the comedic aesthetic of the game and it works well.
Your movement around levels is all as should be, point and click using the mouse. Right clicking an object or character will provide a description whereas left clicking either will allow you to interact with either object or character. If you select an object from your infinity sack where you store your items you collect, you can then left click with a character or other item to see if it’ll aid in solving a puzzle. If not, Tondbert will certainly let you know you’re in the wrong, “What do you want me to do? Smush the fruit into him?”
Pros and Cons
+ Voice acting for every character
+ Great throwback to classic point and click games
+ The visuals for the genre are spot on
– Puzzles are an odd combination of effort required
– Not really that captivating of a story
– To do list could be a bit more detailed (without actually solving the puzzle though?)
Guard Duty provides a nostalgic trip which point and click genre fans should love. Those that enjoy the genre will find the puzzles for the most part rather simple, especially with the streamlined puzzles. However, there are some testing puzzles throughout that the notebook could perhaps of hinted a little better at what to do. But as mentioned, maybe that’d make all the puzzles too easy. The humour is up and down, think Monty Python, if you like the films, you’ll enjoy the humour. The majority of the game is played as Tondbert in the past rather than agent Starborn. I enjoyed playing with the bumbling Tondbert in the past more so this was fine for me.