The Guise (PC) Review

By Chris Leebody 10.11.2020 1

Review for The Guise on PC

Out now on Steam and just in time for Halloween, is this macabre Metroidvania tale by Russian-based indie developer Rasul Mono (previously the man behind the UltraGoodness series). This is the fairytale of a young orphan boy called Ogden, who steals a cursed mask and is suddenly transformed into a 'devilish' monster. With an abundance of abilities to use, a quite distinctive art-style and some imaginative boss battles- it appears on the face of it to be an attractive proposition, especially to those fans of tough side-scrolling combat along the lines of Hollow Knight. The dark world of The Guise is full of twisted terrors, and some who enter may not return. Cubed3 did- and here's what we thought.

At this time of year, it is always great to have stylistically appropriate games to enjoy, chocked full of promises of monstrous bosses and cursed objects. The Guise certainly delivers on those requests; but maybe doesn't always provide the spooktacular thrills to go with it. Things begin rather quickly when protagonist Ogden, a child in a mysterious magical children's orphanage, sneaks into the secret room of their guardian Mallory. Inside, he finds and puts on a cursed mask that sees him transform into a cross between Satan and a cat.

Now stuck in this cursed body, Ogden must travel the land to seek a way back to normality, while battling dark forces that roam the world and seeking out new and powerful abilities that he can unleash.
The Guise takes on the form of the Metroidvania style subgenre and clearly seeks inspiration from the likes of Hollow Knight. What this means is that it is a side-scrolling, 2D platformer and combat-focused title with an emphasis also on exploration.

Screenshot for The Guise on PC

Speaking of combat first, The Guise definitely tries to mimic the principle of games like Dark Souls in the philosophy of being tough but fair, once the patterns of enemies and bosses have been observed. How successful it is in following through on this inspiration is debatable. The positive on combat is that the various abilities that can be acquired really do allow some variety and experimentation.

On beginning the adventure, it initially seems like combat will be very simplistic and won't hold the attention for very long. Ogden only has a striking attack and a jumping version as his primary means of defending himself. However, collecting eyeballs from enemies allows Ogden to upgrade new abilities that are earned from killing bosses and there is a decent amount of these; from acid spit and healing, to a protective (and cute) bat that will help Ogden by attacking enemies.

Screenshot for The Guise on PC

While these abilities do mix things up a bit, what is clear after playing even for a few hours is that there is a very minimalistic pattern to both bosses and enemies. That doesn't mean they are not difficult and that dying is not a possibility. The frustrating thing is that dying usually occurs because of a misplaced action, rather than a lack of skill.

Movement has a static quality to it, and it doesn't feel anywhere near as fluid in terms of jumping and attacking as maybe some other more advanced genre competitors. This results in the frustration of mistiming an action more often than not feeling like the game's fault rather than that of the player. There is fantastic diversity from a visual point of view on all the boss battles, but the disappointing reality is that they largely stick to very similar patterns of behaviour. Dodge once or twice, the boss teleports or maybe has a ranged attack. It doesn't get much more complex than that and it means then it is just a case of pummeling them for a bit.

Screenshot for The Guise on PC

It's a similar theme with most of the enemies scattered around the world. While they all visually appear very striking and impressive, they do unfortunately all behave in rather similar ways and it means that taking the time exploring this fantasy world feels less like an adventure and more of a slog occasionally. Metroidvania style titles are of course known for their exploration and The Guise has a few touches of this, with some characters giving optional side-quests hunting for objects. While it is nice to have a sense that this is a world rife for exploration, it never really comes across to the fullest extent. The exploration aspect can feel a bit half-baked with a lack of scale.

That said, what may keep the attention for longer is the visuals and art style, which are vivid and imaginative. The environment could definitely have used a few more locales as things do begin to feel rather 'samey' - with forests, caverns, and cemeteries generally the order of the day. However, the inspiration from the likes of The Nightmare Before Christmas, Coraline and Limbo, means there is plenty to love here from a visual point of view. As said, the monster and boss designs are fantastic to look at and the spooky black darkness of the general overworld is interspersed with bold reds and oranges when fighting the likes of Delores, the demon princess.

Screenshot for The Guise on PC

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

For a title that is both modestly priced and was also developed by just a small team, The Guise is a valiant attempt at making a Metroidvania-esque title in a gaming world packed with similar efforts. It is a visually striking world that is memorable, with an enjoyable but maybe not so complex fairytale story. While the abilities Ogden can collect do mix things up a bit when it comes to combat, the patterns of enemies make things just a little too simplistic, while at the same time frustrations around the fluidity of controlling Ogden increase that. There is some good fun to be had here, and the boss battles are a highlight among a story that is simple but enjoyable. However, it is possibly not a game likely to stick in the mind over other better executed attempts.

Developer

Rasul Mono

Publisher

GameNet

Genre

Action Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Sadly, you can't just stick "Metroidvania" in the description and make it automatically a great experience. Too many efforts in this vein have been disappointing lately. Ori and the Will of the Wisps, on the other hand... Smilie AMAZING game!

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

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