Originally released back in 2008, Peggle was a casual video game that was quite popular for a while. The premise of the game was pretty simple as you had a number of balls that you would shoot from the top of the screen in order to hit and eliminate a number of specific objects placed around the screen. I really enjoyed Peggle as it was surprisingly addicting despite not being the most complex game. I bring this up because my fond memories of Peggle is what initially intrigued me about Roundguard. In many ways the game seemed like a more complex Peggle style game which was intriguing as I haven’t played one of these type of games in quite a few years. Roundguard is a clever and fun twist on the traditional Peggle gameplay even if some of its roguelike elements keep it from being as good as it could have been.
Castle Springbottom is under attack. The king has called in a group of heroes to save the kingdom and more importantly his gold. Can you successfully make it through the hordes of bad guys to restore peace to the kingdom?
If I were to describe the gameplay of Roundguard I would say that it feels like a combination of Peggle, a dungeon crawler, and a roguelike. The objective of the game is to make your way through a series of chapters in order to make it to the final boss. You have only one life though, so if you run out of health your adventure ends and you must begin again from the very beginning. You will begin each journey by picking a class which has its own unique playstyle. You will also acquire abilities and equipment throughout your journey which will increase your stats and give you various special abilities.
Each level of the game features a number of enemies spread out around the screen. Your character will be placed at the top in a giant crossbow which you can aim left and right. Once you shoot your character they will bounce off any object they encounter. Pots will give you gold and potions will restore health and mana. When you bump into an enemy you will deal damage to them and they will also deal damage to you based on your stats. You can also utilize your special abilities to perform special attacks or maneuver you character around the screen. When you reduce an enemy’s health to zero, they will be removed from the screen. The objective of each level is to eliminate all of the enemies while avoiding losing all of your health.
As a fan of Peggle I was intrigued when I first saw Roundguard. I hadn’t played a Peggle style game in quite a while. The idea of combining a Peggle style game with a dungeon crawling adventure game was a really interesting idea. While Peggle was a fun game, the gameplay was kind of basic where I was intrigued by someone adding something else to the formula. In a lot of ways Roundguard is quite clever. The game basically takes your typical dungeon crawler and builds it around the Peggle style gameplay. Instead of your typical action or turn based battles, you need to figure out how to shoot your character so they will bounce into enemies and deal damage to them while also limiting the damage to you. You also need to balance health and mana as well as acquire equipment to improve your attack and defense. The whole premise of the game is actually quite clever and works a lot better than I would have initially thought.
Outside of the clever twist on the formula, the gameplay still maintains what was really enjoyable about Peggle while adding in a few other elements as well. The game in a way plays like a puzzle game. You need to use physics/geometry to determine how your character will bounce off of objects when you aim your character. Sometimes you can aim directly at an enemy, but other times you will have to aim to bounce them off another object before hitting your target. Just like it was with Peggle, it is really satisfying when you can make a shot that ricochets off several other objects before hitting its ultimate target. When you are able to clear out most of the enemies with just one shot, you feel a sense of accomplishment. Adding into this are the special abilities and the fact that you also have to manage your health and mana. Those who enjoyed Peggle should really enjoy Roundguard as well.
Another interesting thing about Roundguard’s gameplay is that there are four different heroes to choose from. The most recent addition, the druid, was recently added as well. While the basic gameplay doesn’t really change, each of the characters actually play quite a bit different. For example the warrior has more health and its special attacks are melee based. Therefore if you play with this character you will need to aim shots where you will directly hit enemies. Meanwhile the rogue has less hit points but has special abilities that allows her to attack from a distance or maneuver around the screen more easily. I like the addition of different characters for a couple reasons. First it adds more variety to the game as each character plays different enough that it keeps the game fresh. On top of this it allows players to choose a character that appeals to a player’s play style as most players will likely find a character that fits how they want to approach the game.
On top of the fun gameplay, Roundguard also has a good theme. Rounguard’s theme in a way is built around your character giving the audience a performance. The designers knew the premise behind the game was silly. Instead of trying to make it seem like it wasn’t, the game embraces the fact that it is silly. The characters and enemies play off of a lot of video game tropes. The heroes are never afraid to spout off cringey puns either. The game’s graphics are on the cute side, but they look nice and work well with the rest of the game’s theme. The theme is not going to appeal to everyone, but I enjoyed it. Those who like when a game doesn’t take itself too seriously should enjoy it as well.
While I enjoyed Roundguard, the game does have some issues in my opinion.
I want to preface this by saying that I have never been a huge fan of the roguelike genre. A lot of this probably has to deal with the fact that I am more the type of player that likes to complete a game and then move onto something else. Roguelike games on the other hand are the type of games where you end up losing your progress everytime you die. Therefore the only way to make it further in the game is to improve your skills so you can last longer. There are a lot of people that like this, and I can see the appeal even if it isn’t my favorite game mechanic.
With that said, I personally was not a huge fan of the roguelike mechanics in Roundguard. While the gameplay is fun, because of these mechanics it gets a little repetitive after a while. You will likely end up playing the same sections of the castle over and over again as each time you die you are sent right back to the beginning. The levels seem to be at least somewhat randomized which helps a little, but after a while it feels like you are doing the same thing over and over again. You might make some progress in the game just to have a single mistake or even luck end your run forcing you to start all of the way back at the beginning. You earn a trait when you die that carries over into your next run, but these aren’t a huge help. You get better at the game the more you play it, but that doesn’t mean that you will be more successful on your next run as there is only so much that you can predict before you fire off your hero.
This is where the game’s luck comes into play. Generally it is your fault when you make a shot that either kills your hero or loses them a lot of their health. These can be corrected over time as you learn how your characters bounce off of objects and how you should approach certain situations. There are times in the game where there really isn’t anything that you can do though where life and death relies on luck. To illustrate I wanted to talk about one of my runs. I had actually made it pretty far with powerful gear and possibly even full health. I then had one shot which went pretty well at first where I ended up bouncing all over the screen. My character then temporarily got stuck in an area as I waited for the pots that were destroyed to disappear. This happened at the absolute worst area though as I was close enough to an enemy for them to hit me, but I couldn’t hit them. Basically I had to just watch as the enemy hit my character over and over again wiping out all of their health and ending my run. This felt kind of cheap as I was doing a good job, and then one bad bounce ended everything. There are frustrating moments like this in the game where you will die and it won’t feel like it is your fault. This doesn’t ruin the game, but you need to be aware that you will die in the game sometimes where it doesn’t feel like your fault at all.
Like a lot of roguelikes, how much time you get out of the game will likely depend on what type of player that you are. I have not yet reached the end so I can’t comment on how many chapters there are in the main game. Ultimately you will end up playing through the game quite a few times before you are able to finally beat the game anyway. If you are the type of gamer that gets sick of these type of games after a couple runs, I don’t know how much time you will get out of Roundguard. Those that don’t mind playing the same levels over and over again as you get better at the game though should get quite a bit of time out of the game. The different character classes change up the gameplay enough to keep things interesting as well. On top of this the game has a daily and weekly puzzle where you have to complete a couple screens with certain conditions put in place to force you to approach levels in certain ways. If you don’t mind the roguelike elements, I would be surprised if you didn’t get enough time out of the game.
I was initially intrigued by Roundguard as the premise of combining a dungeon crawler with the Peggle style gameplay sounded really interesting. Despite the premise seeming kind of odd at first, it actually works really well. The Peggle gameplay is enjoyable on its own, but the addition of the dungeon crawler elements adds another interesting dimension to the game. In addition to just hitting the targets in each level you need to manage your health and choose when to use your special abilities. This can be really fun especially when you are able to eliminate a lot of the targets in just one shot. The game’s theme is kind of silly, but it does a good job supporting the gameplay. Most of the game’s problems come from the roguelike mechanics. This won’t be as big of issue for those that like roguelikes, but I wasn’t the biggest fan of dying and then having to restart basically from scratch. This is made worse by one unlucky bounce being enough to kill you.
Ultimately I think your enjoyment of Roundguard will depend on your thoughts on the premise and roguelikes in general. If you don’t really care for the Peggle style gameplay or don’t care for the roguelike elements, I don’t know if Roundguard will be for you. Those that are intrigued by the premise though should enjoy Roundguard and consider picking it up.
We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank The Quantum Astrophysicists Guild, and Wonderbelly Games for the review copy of Roundguard used for this review. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to review, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this review. Receiving the review copy for free had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.