Roundguard is a roguelike dungeon crawler with pinball mechanics by developer Wonderbelly Games and published for consoles by Quantum Astrophysicists Guild. The game originally released in March 2020 on all major platforms including Apple Arcade and this review will concentrate on the Xbox version. Earlier this week, Wonderbelly dropped the Gift Giver update which is a free update and limited time event for Roundguard that brings three new NPCs, snowball fights, and a holiday event.
Castle Springbottom is under attack and it’s up to the Roundguard to save the king and — more importantly — recover his gold! Fling your hero into the face of danger and bounce off hordes of dangerously cute monsters to reach the bottom of the dungeon. You only have one life, so you’ll need to learn how to navigate the dungeon’s hazards, master your hero’s skills, and make strategic choices if you hope to defeat the final boss.
Roundguard has three playable characters for you to choose from – Flagon The Warrior, Shade The Rogue and Fizz The Wizard. Each character has different stats and starting abilities, like the warrior having more health and the wizard having more mana for ability attacks, which also differ between the characters. The free Gift Giver update adds the Gift Giver character who will give you quests to complete in-game to unlock treasure rewards. There’s also two new mini bosses – the Projectionist and the Big Freeze.
“We’ve started on a new playable hero, but it will take a lot more work to get them finished, tuned, and polished up,” said Andrea Roberts of Wonderbelly Games. “In the meantime, we wanted to get something out there to give players new goals and more variety. And of course, we love events! We had a blast putting together a week of costumes and spooky challenges for our Tricks & Treats Halloween event, and we wanted to go even bigger for wintertime. We all need whatever little joys we can get right now!”
Where this game differs to most other roguelike games is the battle arena. Instead of being a traditional 2D map where you can move your character at will, Roundguard is a vertical arena where gravity assists you as you fall through the map, bouncing off enemies to damage them in the style of pinball. It’s a novel twist on the genre and makes for some interesting strategies in eliminating enemies. I found myself thinking almost like I was playing pool; looking for the trick shot to bounce off walls.
There was very little for you to do once you’d launched though. You can choose when to use your special abilities but that was it. I also found staying in the air long enough to do any decent damage was so hard. The only character where I felt like I was making progress was the rogue and that was because one of their abilities was direction attack, which meant I had more control.
It also felt short. There seemed to only be 3 levels to move through. I played for just over three hours and didn’t unlock any other levels. The enemy variety was lacking as well. Each time you die, you’ll have a chance to bring a special trinket with you on your next run to help even the odds. The more gold you grab before dying, the better your chances to collect one of the most powerful trinkets for your next run. Harder runs mean better rewards, which means better equipment, and so the loop goes.
Each time you play, the world map and levels are procedurally generated, and quest events and elite monsters are randomly placed. It has a different look each time where characters and enemies look like bouncy balls and the characters say some funny things. However I didn’t feel engaged with what was going on and skipped most of the text after about an hour of gameplay.
Overall, Roundguard is an entertaining game and tries its best to stand out, but ultimately the main battle mechanic left me feeling like I had very little control with two of the three base characters.