En Garde wasn’t on my radar before the recent Steam Next Fest, but after trying the demo, it instantly caught my attention thanks to its fun swashbuckling antics. A sword fighting heroine that looks to take down an egotistical villain with a sinister moustache? Yeah, sign me up. I’m happy to report that the full game is JUST as fun to play too, with En Garde easily standing out as a real pleasant surprise that deserves the attention of gamers.

Check out some screenshots down below:

En Garde puts players in the role of Adalia de Volador, a slick swashbuckling heroine that fights for the good of the people as she looks to take down the arrogant and villainous Count Duke. This means running and jumping your way through the obstacles in your path and putting any enemies that dare confront you to the blade, albeit with a whimsical twist that feels befitting of the charming and vibrant vibe that the game strives for. It’s a silly little tale that has some genuinely funny moments, with En Garde’s storytelling and writing standing out a lot more than I expected throughout the adventure.

Players will spend a bit of time scouring the environment as they lead Adalia on her journey, with plenty of precise jumps to pull off, puzzles to unravel, and secrets to find, with the vibrant 17th century setting certainly offering plenty of depth as far as exploration is concerned. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a pretty linear experience, but there’s always something to see and do as you progress, so it isn’t ALL about sword fighting. Admittedly, the platforming sequences could feel a little choreographed in places, but it always feels like an enjoyable diversion to the game’s more action-orientated sequences.

And believe me, there’s a LOT of action in the game. Adalia certainly lives up to her reputation as a master of the sword, with players able to string together swift combos of attacks with ease. Her swashbuckling antics always feel satisfying to pull off and look smooth in motion, and when in one-on-one encounters with standard enemies, you’d always expect her to come out on top with just a little bit of button-mashing.

“En Garde never over-complicates the action, but it has enough depth and finesse to ensure each showdown is always rewarding to battle through and that the formula never weakens during your journey.”

Things are never THAT simple though, with one-on-one showdowns a rarity. Instead, En Garde sends enemies your way in numbers, with players having to swiftly switch between targets and constantly keep an eye on where the danger is coming from. There’s an emphasis placed on dodging or parrying incoming danger and breaking the defences of your enemies before attacking, so a lot of time is spent simply picking your moment to strike and taking advantage of gaps in your enemy’s defence. With different enemy types to face off against that have varying strengths and weaknesses, it can become a satisfyingly strategic affair that constantly sees the action flowing.

It reminded me a lot of the Arkham series with a little bit of Sekiro sprinkled on top with the emphasis on poise, and believe me, it makes for a really fun mixture of ideas. En Garde never over-complicates the action, but it has enough depth and finesse to ensure each showdown is always rewarding to battle through and that the formula never weakens during your journey. Furthermore, you can even use objects in the environment against your enemies to break their guard – some of which can make for some zany situations as you put some unconventional items to destructive use. It’s a clever idea that the game goes all-out on, with knowing when to kick a barrel at an enemy often the difference between life and death…

Check out some screenshots down below:

En Garde certainly isn’t short on creativity then, and with your skillset expanding as you progress, there’s plenty to keep players entertained throughout the adventure. It should be noted that the game isn’t too long though, with it easily beaten in around five to six hours on a first playthrough. There is an Arena Mode where you can tackle waves of enemies to put your combat skills to the test, but the core single player experience won’t take players long to beat.

It did more than enough to impress me though, with En Garde’s excellent combat antics and creative level design ensuring the adventure offers more than enough thrills to keep players entertained. It’s a real looker too, with the cartoon-like aesthetic and stellar visual effects ensuring the world is really brought to life. If I was going to call out one little issue, it’s that the camera can struggle to follow the action in some sequences when you’re facing off against multiple foes at once, but it’s a rare occurrence so doesn’t really hurt what is other wise a very, VERY fun experience.

En Garde! Review

En Garde is a very pleasant surprise, with it standing out as a really fun and charming action-adventure that packs plenty of finesse into its combat. The comical storytelling helps make Adelia a heroine you can really root for, whilst the robust combat mechanics that focus as much on playing defensively as they do on unloading swashbuckling combos ensure that there’s plenty of strategy to be found in each showdown. It’s just a really fun game and one that fans of the genre definitely won’t want to skip on.

Developer: Fireplace Games
Publisher: Fireplace Games
Platform(s): PC (Reviewed)
Website: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1654660/En_Garde/