LifeisXbox’s Guardian of Lore review | Can you name me an object or thing that has a Greek, or Norse story tied to them? Probably half a dozen easily. What about Chinese or Japanese or Indian ones? I’ve probably lost some of you, but it’s still possible. But what about the Latin American myths and legends? Since I’m a nerd and have played a Persona game or two I’m familiar with one or two. Quetzalcoatl or the Chupacabra spring to mind, but that’s generally where it ends. Ever heard of the Lobison? This creature of the night will originate from the seventh son of a family, and turn him into this vampire-like wolfman. They only come out on Tuesdays and Fridays; and rather than suck your blood, can supposedly turn you into one of their own by running in between your legs if they manage to surprise you. And while I’ve not found this stalker in Guardian of Lore, Round 2 Games who developed and published it has crammed a lot of stories from Latin America into their debut game for you to explore.
“It really feels like you’re walking through a painting you could find in a museum. Even though you’re in a library, but we won’t sweat the details.”
ℹ️ Reviewed on Nintendo Switch | Review code provided by PR/publisher, this review is the personal opinion from the writer.
What we liked!
- Setting | Asian, Greek and Roman, Norse, Native American, Egyptian mythologies are some of the most explored themes in fiction. If you’ve played even a small number of fantasy or historical games you have most likely bumped into their influences. Guardian of Lore steers clear from those, instead favouring Latin American folktales and myths. As such, the first tale you save from the malevolent forces that wish to see it erased is that of the Yerba Mate. A story of how the moon and a cloud came to earth, how they were saved from a wild animal and how they reward their saviour with this beneficial tea-like drink. Or a story of how two dancers danced vigorously for several days straight. All the tales are very colourful and hold their own against their more counterparts from other parts of the world.
- Graphics | Easily one of the things I liked most about Guardian of Lore is its art style. Whether you explore the lush forests, barren deserts, villages or temples you will be met with some beautifully painted sceneries. It really feels like you’re walking through a painting you could find in a museum. Even though you’re in a library, but we won’t sweat the details. The painting-like style is only for the world elements mind you. This is because Sayri and the mysterious enemies are all actually 3D models. While I’ve seen this quite often clash in other titles, Guardian of Lore seems to have found the sweet spot for making them blend nicely. In a sense, it accentuates that both Sayri and those aiming to destroy the tale are foreign objects in the world of the story. Yes, the effect is the same in the library, but I like thinking about it this way.
- Audio | The soundtrack and effects in Guardian of Lore do what they have set out to do, and do it well. With tracks that are soft but present, the levels will never feel silent. Each of the many books has its own distinct track, so they’ll only start to feel repetitive when you’re stuck redoing a level over and over. Bosses often don’t have their own track per sé, instead opting for a more intense version of the track, with extra instruments. The sound effects all clearly convey the action they’re tied to. A sharp slashy sound for swords and axes, satisfying crunches for hammers and all that makes magic magical on the spells. I can see these getting quite repetitive after a couple of hours. This wasn’t the case for me since I only played a book per day and thus didn’t give it the time to become so.
- Combat | The Guardian of Lore isn’t called that because he’s a ceremonious librarian, na ah. Our boy Sayri can and has to do his fair share of fighting. The weapon of choice, well that’s up to you really. He’s a bit of a spellsword. Meaning you can equip him with swords, axes and the like. These also come in a selection of flavours, with elemental damage types like fire, ice and lightning; but also slashing and bludgeon damage exists. Different enemies are more or less vulnerable to certain effects, so be sure to experiment a bit. So when you need to tear your foes asunder with some more primal forces, you also have access to a handful of spells. Fireballs, familiars, movement buffs, healing and more. All can be cast using knowledge gathered from broken pots or slain enemies. It’s also possible to upgrade these to your heart’s content, but be sure to plan out what way you want to grow in, as one upgrade locks out another.
So why have I got mixed feelings about it then? Well, you see, it’s all a bit weightless. The right weapon can send enemies flying from the first hit, meaning you have to chase them. This is better with magic, but that has a clear upgrade path you can influence this with.
What we disliked
- Bugs | It pains me to say this, but Guardian of Lore might have been made in Buenos Aires as it was struck by an asteroid, given the number of bugs I encountered on a regular basis. (Forgive me the Starship Troopers joke) While most of the time these did not hinder progression, it’s still not something you want to see in the game you’re playing. For example, the health bars of defeated bosses tend to overstay their welcome from time to time. Or say you die, but your panther familiar which you’re controlling still manages to get a couple of hits in, then you’ve already dealt that damage to the bar when you respawn. Movement can also be somewhat whacky, as it will go from launching you into the air because you made some quick inputs, to just making Sayri stop listening to any of your inputs until you jump in place. I’ve also had a number of times where the spell casting slowdown of time effect persisted after cancelling.
- Movement | Here we have one of the first things I would improve to Guardian of Lore, the clunky and slippery movement. It’s like they put some soap under the heel of Sayri’s shoes. It’s happened countless times when I was platforming when you’d make contact with the platform, and somehow still move a bit further in the direction you were jumping. This has made me fall to my doom a good number of times before I got used to correcting for it. Which is hard in and of itself since movement feels very stiff. Quick and precise sections are a nightmare because of it. This might be because our character has a habit of completing every animation he’s given.
- Knowledge | It is your singular resource for a lot of things, and I wish Round2Games had split this up somehow. Knowledge is the resource you pool from when casting spells, crafting items and upgrading said spells. I feel like this would have worked a lot better as two separate pools to draw from. Since if I’m casting lots of spells on a boss near the end of a book, I will most likely end that book without enough to upgrade any of them, or craft new items. This makes it quite punishing to cast spells, and they’re my favourite part of combat the Guardian of Lore has to offer.
- Durability and throwable weapons | This one partially feeds back into the knowledge segment from earlier. Certain tools such as shields have a durability bar. As per common sense in video games, once this depletes, the item is destroyed and no longer usable. So far so good, except for that you can not repair them. (to my knowledge) You can only make a replica of it at the knowledge forge. Jumping onto the spears and bombs then. While they are an overall nice addition to the game, their damage output and general scarcity just make them kind of obsolete.
How long to beat the story | 15 hours
How long to achieve 1000G | 20 hours
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Hey there. Thomas is the name, Sci-fi, action and (J)RPG’s are the game. I strongly prefer co-op over PVP games. Whenever possible, you may find me run wild at a convention in western Europe. Certified anime enjoyer.