Guard Duty review for PS4, PS Vita, Xbox One, Switch

Platform: PS4
Also on: PS Vita, PC, Xbox One, Switch
Publisher: Ratalaika Games
Developer: Sick Chicken Studios
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

Guard Duty really feels like a game out of time. From practically the very first scene, as main character Tondbert (the eponymous guard) drunkenly slurs through a couple of sentences and then wakes up with no memory of what happened to his uniform, you feel like you?re playing something from the adventure game heyday of the early ?90s, rather than a game that?s come out a few decades too late to find its proper audience.

But better late than never, right? And even if it won?t get nearly the audience that something like Monkey Island had, that doesn?t make Guard Duty any less worthwhile if you?re fond of the genre.

In fact, I?d go as far as to say that anyone who still harbours feelings for Monkey Island should check this game out right away. Thanks to the pixelated graphics, Guard Duty very much looks like it?s something you could have played on a PC back when you were paying thousands of dollars for a device that?s less powerful than most modern-day smartphones.

Better still, even if Guard Duty is heavily indebted to the past, it?s not a slave to it. The controls here feel much smoother than most adventure games, particularly when you factor in that you?re playing on a console rather than with a mouse and keyboard — which is actually much harder than you might expect. Likewise, the puzzles are pleasantly challenging, without ever crossing the line into inscrutable internal logic that occasionally defined some of this game?s spiritual forebears. Even the writing doesn?t feel as self obnoxiously self-referential as some of those early ?90s classics.

Basically, just about the only thing wrong with Guard Duty is that it?s thirty years too late to have the kind of audience it deserves. It?s a charming, likeable adventure game that borrows from the best parts of the genre?s past, and it?s very easy to get sucked into the couple of hours it?ll take you to finish it.

Ratalaika Games provided us with a Guard Duty PS4/Vita code for review purposes.

Grade: A-