I’m a sucker for story driven adventure games with personality, and Lil’ Guardsman is no exception. From the developers of Hilltop Studios, Lil’ Guardsman is nearly filled to the brim with personality.
In this adorable decision-based adventure game, you play as Lil, a twelve-year-old girl who makes decisions that impact her entire kingdom of ‘The Sprawl’. As the game opens, you learn that Hamish, Lil’s dad, needs to go do some illegal gambling by betting on a goblinball team. He asks Lil to cover his shift at the guard shed since that’s what his dad did with him, and his father before that, and his father before that, and…you get it.
During your shifts, different fantastical characters such as elves, goblins, orcs and more, come to the guard shed in hopes of being admitted into the kingdom of ‘The Sprawl’. It is your job to figure out if they are: innocent and admit them, suspicious and deny them, or dangerous and send them to the dungeons. Be warned, however! The decisions you make will affect the kingdom!
For each potential entrant, you have three action points that you can spend to gather the information needed to make your decision. You can interrogate them to learn more about their story. Afterwards, you have the option to either trust, doubt or tease them for what they say. You can use the telephone in the shed to call upon one of the three advisors—a member of the royal guard, a councilwoman, or the court jester—to get their opinion on the matter. Finally, and in my opinion the most useful, you can use a tool to help suss out the characters that might be hiding something. The tools available to you are: a bullwhip, a metal detector, a decoder ring, an x-ray machine, and truth spray. Each can be extremely valuable and give you the information needed to get a perfect score!
As the game progresses, you will receive a time machine that allows you to restart an interaction (or entire day) if you didn’t do as well as you hoped, upgrades for the tools, plenty of laughs, and of course choices, choices, choices!
One of the most apparent things I loved about Lil’ Guardsman is its adorable art style. The character designs are super colorful and full of life. Not only the characters, but also the backgrounds to the world as well. I've spent plenty of time studying Lil’s room and the guard shed looking at every little detail that seems to bring the characters’ personalities to life. Even the sprites’ expressions seem to exude the character’s, well, character.
I am happy to say that Lil’ Guardsman has some of the funniest writing I have ever seen in a video game. I absolutely adore that it seems to not take itself too seriously, even breaking the fourth wall from time to time. I’ll admit, I’ve caught myself busting out laughing from some of its writing. The scenarios are just downright absurd from time to time, but that makes for even funnier gags in my opinion. Now, all of the jokes aren’t always complete bangers. There are a few that fall a bit flat, but that didn’t stop me from anticipating the next belly-buster I knew the game had in store for me. Not only was it extremely humorous, the story was also actually rather interesting. I loved that there was an overarching story about the kingdom and how your choices affected it. In addition to that, every single person that had stopped by the guard shed also got their individual story told. Every individual was unique…and that is a feat in and of itself with there claimed to be over 100! As you interrogate and use tools, you shape their stories. At the end of the day, you get a screen that not only recaps what happened to them in relation to how the interaction went, but also what happens to them afterwards. Maybe you were friendly to that guy with the toolbox and admitted them, bringing them to the tavern to help fix that old broken jukebox. Maybe you refused the suspicious looking guy with blood gold entry, confiscated the contraband, making an enemy out of them. It is a wonderful touch that made me look forward to meeting the new characters, invested in learning how their stories would end up.
The last major point I would like to bring up is the amazing voice acting in this game. After watching the trailer for the game, I falsely assumed that the voices were only for that trailer. However, all of the characters throughout the game have their own voices, which brought them to life and helped make this game shine even brighter. Although a bit cheesy from time to time, I think the silliness was a breath of fresh air and made the gaming experience that much better.
In a story driven decision-based adventure game, keeping the story interesting and the gameplay interesting is a difficult balancing act. At its heart, the mechanics are simple and repetitive: you meet a character, figure out if they are dangerous, and either admit or deny. However! With the story elements and humour that this game is packed full of, it didn’t feel repetitive or boring at all!
- Adorable art style
- Hilarious writing
- Interesting characters
- Voice acting
If I’m being honest, there isn’t much that I would change about this game. In fact, I was struggling to find anything that wasn’t great about it. The only weak point that I could see is the lack of challenge for the most part. The majority of characters that are suspicious are painfully obvious. Though, the humor and personality of said characters more than make up for this in my opinion. I would just say that if you’re looking for a challenge, this probably isn’t the title for you.
- Little to no challenge
Final Score: 9/10
Overall, Lil’ Guardsman is an incredibly hilarious, silly, adorable, low pressure decision-based adventure game that is a must-play in my opinion. If you want a hilarious game with heart and soul, then Lil’ Guardsman is for you. I will definitely be revisiting the game myself to try and see how different I can make the kingdom of ‘The Sprawl’. Now, excuse me…I have to go to town to place my bets for the upcoming goblinball game…could you cover my shift at the guard shed today?
Thank you for checking out our Lil’ Guardsman Switch review, thank you to Versus Evil (via Plan of Attack) for providing the review code and thank you to our Patreon Backers for their ongoing support: