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Bite Sized Reviews: En Garde!
One of my favourite older games is Dark Messiah: Might and Magic. While the story was a hot mess and it had some flaws overall, what I loved about that game was the combat. Using the environment as a creative sandbox in fights is always something I get behind with my games. Having a host of powers and weapons in battle is awesome, but even better when you can use the world against enemies as well! Kicking people off ledges is so satisfying.
Yes, I might have a problem. Still, what amazing combat! More games need that, which might be why I’ve gorged myself on En Garde! Big thanks to Firepower Games for providing me with a review code. Ever since it was announced, it was in my Top 10 most anticipated games of 2023 — big praise given what we’ve seen, and what’s still to come! So far, it has lived up to the hype.
En Garde blends striking visual design, environment-based combat and the Spanish Inquisition to make a short yet captivating experience. It’s just about the right length — nothing in the game felt bloated. After chewing my way through so many long games that demand so much of my time, En Garde was a breath of minty-fresh air. It might be short, but it won’t feel rushed. Every part of this game feels well-crafted, boasting enjoyable banter and all that extra flourish. While the main ‘story’ will last most players a handful of hours, there’s a meaty Arena mode as well. The combat is so good that I know this is a game I’ll keep playing, so having an additional mode is a godsend. The characters are memorable too, providing just the right mix of slapstick comedy and great voice acting to keep me engaged. The graphics are pretty solid overall, with striking environments that provide more than enough interaction. Using the battlefield as a weapon is awesome, and the world has little lore tidbits scattered around. The best kind of scavenger hunt for a lore glutton such as myself!
What I appreciate most about En Garde — besides it just being a solid all-in-one package — is the care the developers have put into accessibility. En Garde’s combat, while challenging, provides players with all the tools necessary to have a good time. Even someone like me who has as much skill in these games as a colourblind hedgehog in a bag found much to have a blast. However, there are several options to weak. Difficulty settings, the ability to auto-parry some attacks (although ‘RED’ strikes are still down to the player to dodge), and even a toggle for invincibility, it’s all there. There’s the eternal debate of if games should have these ‘easy’ settings. I’m all for it. Don’t want to use it? Don’t toggle it on. It’s not a difficult choice, and I like that En Garde provides this for everyone.
Sure, En Garde isn’t perfect, because what game is? Not even Baldurs Gate 3! The auto lock in En Garde time to get used to — my character has an annoying habit of locking in on an opponent, making it harder for me to move around the screen freely. So far, I haven’t been able to turn this off. I might be missing something, but if not, I would like to see this fixed. The game is a little performance hungry especially for laptops. While the game runs out of the box on the Steam Deck, I found it requires at least 5W TDP to run smoothly. I was expecting it to run better on lower wattage. It’s not a major issue, but it is something to consider.
Regardless, I’m loving my time with En Garde. It’s the breath of fresh air I needed, and do not be surprised if this makes my Top 10 end of the year. You can buy En Garde on Steam right now!