Imagine being in charge of vetting people trying to get into your town. Now imagine being 12 years old and having that power. Awesome, right? Now add an arsenal of cool gadgets to help find contraband or make people tell the truth and you’ve got yourself the coolest job ever.
Lil’ Guardsman from developer Hilltop Studios is a narrative adventure game where players step into the shoes of the adorable Lil who has been tasked with covering her dad’s shift at the guardsman shed. He’s too busy gambling on the goblin ball game. Ugh. The job involves being in charge of who comes and goes into town. Pretty big deal, right?
Thankfully, Lil has a few tricks and tools at her disposal to make the shift easy peasy — at least, her first shift anyway. Turns out Lil might have to cover for her dad a few times and players will have to learn all the tricks of the trade if she’s to get through it all in one piece.
What makes Lil’ Guardsman captivating from the start is its fully voiced cast and hilarious dialogue. That, coupled with a gorgeous, 2D art style and fantasy setting, makes this an absolute delight right from the off. Players will encounter goblins, vampires, cyclops and more all trying to make their way into town. In total, there are over 100 characters to meet and chat with, many of whom have entire backstories to read about at the end of each chapter.
Lil is able to use different tools in order to determine if someone is eligible to come into town. Some of these items include truth spray, a metal detector and an x-ray. Players have to be careful when to use these items because they run on crystals that disintegrate when the item is used.
Lil is also only given three action points to use per person, meaning she can only choose three things, whether that’s using a tool or questioning a person, before she has to make her decision. Finally, Lil can also call on the King’s three advisors to get advice. The advice isn’t always helpful but hey, they’re adults, they’ve got to know best – right?. Later on, Lil will unlock even more items that will help players make the best choices or even rewind a choice if it ends up being catastrophic.
Each person that Lil lets in or rejects will have some sort of effect on the world at large. At the end of each shift, you’ll get to see what happened to each person after their encounter with Lil at the guard shed. Perhaps someone Lil rejected got angry and set fire to a nearby village. Or maybe a treant that was granted entry decided to run for government. Everything that happens is in the hands of Lil will change the player’s game and, ultimately, decide the fate of the kingdom.
When Lil isn’t at the guard shed there are a variety of other things for her to do. And with the game’s fully voiced cast, it’s a blast wandering around seeing what kind of encounters Lil will have. Players can wander down to the goblin ball arena and bet on a game to try and earn some extra cash or buy some upgrades at the shop outside the bar. Each location brings the world to life and introduces more characters from the game’s incredible cast.
If one thing could be said about Lil’ Guardsman it’s that it’s not very difficult. The title has been compared to Papers, Please, a game about working as a border checkpoint officer, letting people in and out of your country. While Papers, Please forces players to double and triple-check dozens of details before letting people in, Lil’ Guardsman is much more laid back. If you’re looking for a truly challenging game, then, you won’t find much to satisfy your brain here. But what you will find is a great deal of entertainment and plenty of laughs.
Lil’ Guardsman is so much fun to play. Players will be laughing out loud from the very beginning and will enjoy the fun references and silly jokes throughout. And those that like to play games multiple times will be able to see all of the different options and outcomes. Sure, this is a pretty easy game, but for something that’s mostly about the story and the characters, we didn’t find this too disappointing. If you’re looking for a relaxing, funny time, Lil’ Guardsman is well worth picking up.