Creating a classic point-and-click adventure today is a delicate cocktail. Players seek all of the whimsical nostalgia that comes along with the genre, but they expect modern quality as well. Guard Duty for the Switch certainly shines with its short-but-sweet storyline and voiced characters, although some noticeable details fall through the woodwork in this port.
The introduction sequence foreshadows a grim far-future before rewinding to the medieval past. There, we meet Tondbert, a royal guard on a self-imposed ‘save the princess’ quest. Although he’s caught quite literally with his pants down, ‘Tondie’ in particular proves to be a memorable character with a heart of gold.
The fully voiced NPCs you’ll meet along the journey will often have detailed backstories that Tondbert can ask about, colouring in the already colourful world. That is, it starts out colourful and full of mystery. Later, we’re flung into a grim sci-fi future that’s made slightly brighter by cheeky Metal Gear Solid references, down to a grumbling protagonist and his many lady colleagues.
Completing this quest to save the princess – and save the world – involves the usual screen-searching and item trading. (An adorably handwritten to-do list keeps track of goals if you need a refresher.) The joystick moves a sword-shaped cursor around each map, and clicking on the ground will lead the character (and sometimes the camera, as well) to that spot. You can also move and interact using touch controls in handheld mode, although it’s sometimes hard to be precise this way.
Interactable objects are marked by on-screen text. Similar titles offer the option to remove this text since it’s a bit of a handicap for people who prefer to ‘pixel hunt,’ but the flip-side is that most environmental objects here are useless. Although non-essential items and characters can help colour in the environment, they can also be misleading to genre veterans who are trained to try everything.
Those same longtime point-and-click fans will find that the experience is fairly railroaded, which leaves little room for error – and little motivation to explore. Although paying attention to dialogue and observing objects can help you solve problems quickly, the main character holds your hand a lot with convenient suggestions. It goes beyond keeping players out of game-breaking situations, which is always welcome; we’re often handed the solution immediately or after a single failure.
Mistakes often have no consequences, and again, the characters walk themselves through solutions out loud. A more annoying issue is that it’s way too easy to accidentally click on the environment as you’re skipping through dialogue to the end. It’s at these moments you might be grateful for your inability to screw up the run!
Appealing, pixelated visuals mimic PC adventures of old, while buttery movement animations and cutscenes bring them to life. The view is marred only by two static wood columns that frame the game itself – a clunky way of addressing the retro screen style. The music isn’t anything to write home about, but it isn’t headache-inducingly repetitive in most areas.
All told, Guard Duty is just plain likeable. This quest to end a dark doomsday is marked by cute puzzles, loveable characters, and pop culture references. Although it’s a short and not-so-steep challenge which would play smoother with a mouse and keyboard, it’s still one for the list if you have fond memories of Sierra and LucasArts, or would like to introduce such an experience to a friend.
Guard Duty £9.99
Guard Duty is a proper homage to classic point-and-click adventures that’s held back by some PC-to-console growing pains. While excessively easy, it’s a perfect choice for someone who wants to get their feet wet in a typically unforgiving genre.