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Lil' Guardsman Review

Lil' Guardsman Review

I don’t know how Lil' Guardsman slipped under my radar, but I heard about it from my friend, who said it was like Papers, Please but fantasy. Upon looking at the screenshots and the trailer, I knew I had to check it out. The fact that we were asked to review it? Also helped a lot.

Lil Guardsman Influences

So, I didn’t hesitate to start up Lil’ Guardsman on Steam. Developed by Hilltop Studios, this was their first game, and I could already see how much passion was put into this project. I took on the role of a twelve-year-old girl, Lil, who has herself taken on the role of guardsman for the day due to her father, Hamish, placing a bet on the Goblinball game that day. As you can see, some fine parenting in advance, but the relationship between Hamish and Lil was just positively endearing.

Lil goes to the Guardshed, where she is in charge of letting people into the Sprawl. Naturally, there are a host of fantasy creatures, such as goblins, cyclops, trolls, little old ladies, brave knights, shapeshifters, werewolves, famous cats, and foreign dignitaries; all here to do their jobs, or cause some resounding chaos. Lil, of course, has a variety of tools at her disposal to help her through the day.

Lil Gaurdsman Screenshot

You can interrogate each wannabe entrant to the city, and you can do this up to three times if you want. With only three action slots per turn, you need to be careful about what you do. So, you should consider the tools in your handy cupboard. In the cupboard, you’ll find: a decoder ring, a metal detector, truth spray, an X-ray machine, and a bullwhip, and all of these are powered by crystals. There are only a limited number of crystals you can get supplied to you for the job, but you can buy more in later turns with your funds, including some shoddy crystals that sometimes work, and sometimes don’t.

Of course, you don’t just have these tools at your disposal. You can also ask for advice from the three advisors of Princess Desdemona. These are Lieutenant Stryker, the strict knight in charge of law enforcement; Councilwoman Ashe, a pompous, yet intelligent, councillor who can provide advice; and Malcolm, the chaotic court jester who is constantly up to shenanigans. All three of these advisors have been fighting for dominance of the Sprawl since the death of the previous monarch, King Oswin, and have been steadily driving Princess Desdemona up the wall with their tomfoolery.

The Chronometer

Naturally, Lil will come to meet them often, as upon realising how good a guardsman you are, they have you permanently replace your father at his station. Somehow, a twelve-year-old girl has so much power in this game, and it’s hilarious, as she reminds everyone that she is twelve. Of course, a twelve-year-old girl also needs the power to turn back time when needed, so after finishing her first day, Lil is brought to the Digsite, where she meets Dr. Bea who informs her of the Chronometer 3000, which, as an example, brings you back in time once you can’t resist pushing that beautiful big button.

Returning to the end of the day, you go back, and the best thing is that you don’t repeat everything. Lil knows it’s all weird, and goes to Dr. Bea, and essentially stops her from repeating her speech, and it’s just so tongue-in-cheek that I loved it. To prevent Lil from going ballistic with the Chronometer 3000, it can only be used at the Guardshed, so if you mess up, you can rewind and prevent yourself from screwing up again. It’s a nice touch, and I genuinely liked the facet of it actually having a significant impact on the plot.

Of course, that’s not all. What I love about this is that after the end of each shift, I can go and explore. You can either click to where you want to go or use the arrow or WASD keys on your keyboard. This way you can interact with everyone at the Twisted Sisters Tavern, and chat with those you let in through the gate. Some will offer you services, such as Garby Bunkle, a man dedicated to bringing capitalism to the Sprawl. Naturally, he runs the only Shoppe in the city and has truly placed us all in a capitalist chokehold, all run from a dodgy back alley behind the Twisted Sisters.

Garbys capitalist chokehold

Garby will sell you crystals (legit and dodgy) and upgrades for your tools, and you can sell items you’ve confiscated, like illegal enhancement drugs, or an actual bomb. It’s a great way to make some cash, to then bet on at the Goblinball, to truly become like Lil’s father. You can even rig the Goblinball matches in some cases, which is hilarious, and has been a great source of entertainment for me if I just happened to prevent a player from playing.

For some reason, Lil has so much power, and she knows it. While her friends are off throwing rocks at people, Lil finds herself helping Princess Desdemona choose the perfect person to marry (both choices are hilarious), and she even helps choose those who want to enlist in the war with the enemy nation (the enemy nation being whomever you asked Desdemona not to marry). Not only that, but Lil becomes aware of the issues plaguing the non-human residents of the Sprawl and can help them in some way or another.

Once Lil lets someone in or denies them, you’ll get a brief story of what they were up to once you made your choice. These are always a great source of joy, and I absolutely loved every character’s individual stories. All you need to do is basically get three stars or higher in the level, and you’ll be paid, and the result is always sarcastic. The fact that each character has their own voice is brilliant, and makes Lil’ Guardsman a particularly fun and chaotic experience.

Lil Guardsman battle sequence

Of course, these stories are always different. One of my favourite elements was that none of the twelve levels were exactly the same. Sure, you got the occasional returning villager, but these were always completely different during Lil’s nightshift, when she would have to deal with monsters and the occasional homicidal maniac. Upon choosing the characters for the war effort, you would be put in a short battle sequence, and your ability to win would entirely depend on who you drafted, and what they would bring to the table. It meant there was more at stake, and I absolutely adored it.

Lil Guardsman Fantastico

Upon completing my first playthrough, I knew that I would have to go back. There were things I needed to do differently, and there’s definitely a lot of replayability value here. It’s easy to jump in and out of, and one playthrough will take around 8 hours. But, considering the other choices you can make? The price of £15.99 for Lil’ Guardsman is exceptionally fair, and I can’t say that I could find much fault except for some very small grammatical issues. By all accounts, I’m glad I played this, and I’d absolutely recommend any fans of Papers, Please to give it a go, especially if you want a more comedic experience.


9.50/10 9½

Lil' Guardsman (Reviewed on Windows)

Excellent. Look out for this one.

Lil’ Guardsman is a cute yet hilarious point-and-click adventure with a surprisingly deep story. No level is the same, and it has a lot of heart, making it perfect for anyone wanting to have a laugh.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Bex Prouse

Bex Prouse

Staff Writer

Writing about all sorts like a liquorice allsort

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