En Garde! is a dashing and slick duel-em-up that nails both balance and tone

The importance of parrying in games has never felt more vital than now.

I’ll be honest, in a lot of older games, I used to ignore the button most of the time. I’d hack, slash and block through every obstacle, because, to me, parrying rarely felt necessary.

But now, in the age of Dark Souls, Elden Ring and the rest of them, parrying is about as important as moving the camera. And it’s also a vital ingredient in En Garde, a fun duel-em-up from newcomers Fireplace Games that is as much about its tummy-tickling humor as it is about riposting and giving a rollicking good tongue-lashing.

The game has a beautiful cinematic style through its glorious tropical islands and castle wall innards that gives the slightest hint of Monkey Island crossed with Zorro, and a dash of Princess Bride. Players take on the titular role of vigilante, Adalia de Volador, a tongue-in-cheek fighter who could talk out of any situation with their wits, but prefers to fight. You and your trusty blade will slice through armed guards, kick them into water, throw them off ledges, and still look stylish by swinging through the skies.

This unique little adventure is both delightful and dastardly with the quippy little lines that it spews out and battles it pits you against. These humorous moments are kind of disarming and catch you off guard, when the game beats you over the head with a brutal difficulty curve.

Its characters are fun, cleverly crafted and have great exchanges, and the world even lets you roam around, picking up on little nuggets of info, such as wanted posters and famous books so you can get a greater insight into the storytelling.

For a game about sword fighting, though, of course, it’s mostly centred around the combat and how it’s fine-tuned and balanced. In short, Fireplace Games have got it near perfect. You duck and weave freely, focusing on the nearest enemy to you, which works pretty masterfully. From there, it’s a case of either sticking and moving, or parrying at the critical moment so you can deflect and defeat your enemies.

Using the environment is where it’s most satisfying as you kick a table to block your enemies into a corner and then hack them up to all hell. You can surprise attack from on high and even use special abilities to take foes down in a grandiose style. And if things are getting hectic, you can roll over a table to get out of dodge. Or throw a bucket at someone’s head to turn out the lights.

En Garde’s sense of humor marries beautifully into its combat, but it does also build up quickly and it can get pretty intense out there once the number game goes against you. I guess this is where some people have compared it a bit to a Souls-Like. With the jumping from roof to roof, clambering up walls, and getting a foothold on crates, I definitely get a bit of a Prince of Persia vibe from the game, and even a little Sifu. But I think that’s what works so well about En Garde is that it’s a successful compilation of a greatest hits of some of the best games in the genre.

And it’s all squared away in a compact, but challenging package that you can blast through in around five hours. If you’re up to its challenge, of course, then you can come back for desserts with an Arena Mode.

En Garde! has a wonderful sense of individual style, it’s a bunch of fun but is layered with well tuned combat and beautifully flowing movement and mechanics. It doesn’t wear out its welcome, but its difficulty curve could be a bit offputting if you’re not prepared or let it catch you unawares.

Put simply, if you want a bite sized chunk that gives you a bit of everything and a belly laugh to go along with it, you’ll feel right at home here.


En Garde! brings character, energy and finesse to your pad within moments of play. It moves well and is balanced wonderfully with combat that matches and even surpasses many great games out there already. Its difficulty will definitely be offputting to some and its size may not be enough for others, but this game knows what it is, leans elegantly into it and gives you a memorable journey from its opening to close. 


+ Well tuned, balanced combat
+ Beautiful visuals and effects
+ Wonderful sense of humor


– Sharp difficulty curve
– Short size may be offputting to some

En Garde! is out now on PC 

Code Kindly Provided by Fireplace Games for review purposes

Played on Steam PC

About the author

Sally Willington

Sally is relatively new to gaming since a newfound addiction to Nintendo Switch. Now they just can't stop playing, anything and everything. Sally especially loves a good RPG and thinks that Yuna may just be one of her favourite characters ever.
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