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En Garde! - A Colorful Swashbuckling Adventure - Game Review

All views are that of the author and are not influenced by any copies of games provided by publishers for review purposes. En Garde! releases exclusively on Steam on August 16th.

About the Game
En Garde! is a third-person swashbuckler game that allows you to use your environment to face off against guards and enemies in fast-paced fencing action. A debut for Fireplace Games, who developed and published the game, En Garde! swings into action and immediately becomes a must-have this summer.


En Garde! has one of the most unique gameplays I've seen in a video game in a while as you take Adalia on a fencing adventure unlike any other. The fencing mechanic is smooth and, coupled with parrying, blocking and dodging, feels immensely satisfying when battling multiple guards at once. The schwing sounds of your fencing sword clanging with your enemies' weapons is rewarding to the eyes and the ears in a way I couldn't have predicted, and it led me down a dangerous path of swinging everything and everyone that comes my way. This is made even more enjoyable when you get more special combos, most of which you have to time pretty well, and use your environment carefully and quickly to trick, stun or watch your enemies get crushed by a chandelier. It's swashbuckling fun!

The game itself plays like a straightforward theatrical adventure divided into four main "episodes", each of which are self-contained and unique in their own way. There are various and colorful characters that Adalia de Volador meets (and bickers with) along the way as well as set pieces and locations while you try to stop the Count-Duke from his tyrannical regime. Zaida, in particular, is a standout character you meet throughout the game, sometimes even labeled as "Definitely Not Your Crush" which filled this player's queer heart with joy. Adalia, our fabulous bisexual Spanish protagonist, has enough quips and witty dialogue to keep you entertained for hours—around 6-8 hours total, in my experience. Sometimes, it's fun to stop around and take in the new locations instead of following the markers that assist you in completing the current quest. Doing so can reward you with secrets and backstory scattered around each episode, adding a nice touch to an already rich lore.

Apart from the main storyline, En Garde! also contains an Arena Mode, which is a unique approach to keep players coming back for more Adalia and fencing fun. I'm personally always looking for more replay value in games lately after coming off of months of Hades runs, and the Arena Mode feels like the perfect mix of randomized combat, waves of enemies, and stunning locales—and it is highly addictive. It allows players to choose between 3 positive modifiers in between arenas that parry a gameplay modifier used to buff enemies. This was undeniably one of my favorite things about En Garde! as the unpredictability kept me coming back for more swashbuckling—plus, I really wanted to kick more crates and barrels towards the guards.

There's a slight difficulty curve in the game that I wasn't too prepared for, particularly after the second level/episode, but the new special abilities you learn as you progress certainly help counter that a bit. It's a little jarring after the fast-paced action of the first half of the game and almost Souls-like, but En Garde! really wants you to strategize in real-time and utilize everything around you while preparing for your enemies' next moves. This difficulty is, however, all forgotten when you realize that you can pet the chickens!


The cartoonish environments are absolutely stunning to look at. Whether you're in the middle of a battle arena surrounded by colorful and rich locales or swinging from a rope atop the striking ocean, there's always something breathtaking around you in En Garde!. Fireplace Games also cleverly keep the environments from being repetitive by making each episode stand out on its own. It's truly a visual delight.

En Garde! has a ridiculously fun soundtrack that feels right at home with the environments you're in. The orchestral and instrumental music by composer Jean-Claude Charlier feels like an NPC at times, and it was something that I kept coming back to on YouTube long after the end credits finished rolling.


The game runs very well with little to no hiccups throughout the different episodes, and it's worth noting how exceptionally fast the loading screens are. If you also find yourself jumping into the water for fun—where are my chaotic gamers?—then the game reloads at your last pre-jump position almost instantaneously, which is pretty impressive.

Using a game controller made the gameplay a lot smoother so much that I played most of En Garde! both on the Steam Deck and the Asus ROG Ally. It's definitely the kind of game that's even more fun on-the-go!

The game features multiple standard accessibility features, including subtitles which were on by default, a nice and much-needed touch. It was particularly cool to see the camera zoom in on the characters that were speaking and the subtitles including their names instead of just the voiceover.

Apart from the default Medium setting, players can set the difficulty to Easy or Hard (the former of which comes in handy) as well as Invincibility Mode and Automatic Parrying, if players wanted a more relaxed and story-driven adventure.


En Garde! is the swashbuckling adventure you didn't realize you needed this summer. The fencing mechanic adds a unique gameplay to a theatrical story jam-packed with fun characters, rich and colorful environments, and real-time dodging and parrying. An Arena Mode will keep you coming back for more, but the difficulty curve is definitely something to look out for.

Gameplay/Story: 8/10
Visuals: 9/10
Sound: 8/10
Performance: 8/10

Overall: 8/10


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