Review – Roundguard

I was wondering what The Quantum Astrophysicists Guild, the developers with one of the coolest and longest names in the business, was doing lately. I remember tackling some of their puzzles for Switch early in the system’s life cycle, The Bridge and Tumblestone, and enjoying them for the most part. Roundguard is the latest game they have worked on, alongside Wonderbelly Games. Let’s take a look at the newest experience they have to offer.


I really really REALLY don’t like this character art style.

Roundguard, just like half of the indie games released over the past decade or so, is a roguelike. Although the market is absolutely saturated with games “with roguelike elements”, you can adapt said gameplay loop to basically every single genre out there, so there’s always a way to make your game feel fresh, and most importantly, fun. That’s how we got games like Void Bastards, Strafe, EarthNight , and Slay the Spire. They’re all vastly different from each other, even though they’re all roguelikes. So what does Roundguard have to offer in order to differ itself from its peers?

The answer is: Peggle. Remember that pachinko-inspired puzzle game developed by the same people behind Plants vs. Zombies that was all the rage ten years ago? The game about aiming in one direction and just watching the ball you launched ricochet at pretty much everything except the one thing you wanted it to? Well, Roundguard is basically that… “with roguelike elements”.


I’ll give them that. This made me chuckle.

You can already imagine how Roundguard works. Use a cannon to shoot your character onto the field with the objective of killing every single enemy onscreen, as well as collecting as much gold and new pieces of gear as possible. You also need to aim your character in a way that you land him/her on top of a cushioned platform, or else you’ll lose a chunk of your health.

After getting rid of all baddies onscreen, you’ll have the chance to choose which room you want to go next, in a pseudo dungeon crawler way. You can decide whether you want to go to a room full of poisonous enemies or orcs, for instance, depending on your build. That is easier said than done, as the game’s pinball-ish nature means that even though you’re aiming at a specific direction, the amount of crap onscreen might make your character bounce way too much and fall into a different pit.

Killing an enemy requires bouncing on them multiple times, but there’s a catch. Each enemy has different stats and attacks, meaning that whenever you attack them, they will attack you in return. That is unless you use a special move that pretty much guarantees that you will hit and destroy everything in your path without bouncing around. It does cost of a bit of mana, but this can easily be replenished by picking up potions scattered throughout the stages. The same can be said about health potions. These slight RPG elements are here to try to spice the gameplay up a bit, and while they’re welcome, they didn’t succeed in basically transforming Peggle into a roguelike.

That’s the thing, Roundguard just isn’t fun to play. Its gameplay loop is slightly interesting, I’ll give it that, but considering the small amount of strategy involved, and the fact your main objective is to collect money that isn’t actually used to buy new gear for a next run, it just doesn’t motivate me to play it again once my character dies. That’s the biggest sin a roguelike can commit. Add in the fact that both its despicably uncharming art style and boring soundtrack don’t improve the overall experience and you get a roguelike failure as a result.


It’s all about aiming at a spot and praying to all the gods that your character will actually hit said spot.

There are so many roguelikes being released every single week, it’s no surprise that some of them end up being as forgettable and underwhelming as Roundguard. It’s a game that might have a creative premise, but fails to deliver due to its hideous visuals, disappointing soundtrack, and lack of replayability. If you really want an indie title that manages to mix pinball-like gameplay with other genres, take a look a Yoku’s Island Express instead. It’s not a roguelike, granted, but I can assure you it’ll engage you a lot more than Roundguard could even dream of.


Graphics: 4.0

It doesn’t run poorly, on the contrary, but its art style can be best described as “hateful”. I definitely didn’t like a single character model in this entire game, and there are infinite combinations of them.

Gameplay: 6.0

It’s Peggle. Aim at where you want to shoot your ball-thing-human, and hope nothing will stand on your way. There’s a bit of strategy in here, sure, but it all bogs down to shooting at a direction and then patiently waiting for your character to stop getting stuck at a dead end comprised of broken vases.

Sound: 4.0

The soundtrack is comprised of annoying loops that don’t help at all in order to make the experience more enjoyable.

Fun Factor: 4.5

There are some good ideas in here, but Roundguard commits the biggest sin a roguelike could ever commit: it’s just not engaging enough to make me want to play it over and over again.

Final Verdict: 4.5

Roundguard is available now on Xbox One, PC and Switch.

Reviewed on Xbox One.

A copy of Roundguard was provided by the publisher.