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Guardians: The Last Day of the Citadel Review: Side-scrolling through a Fantastical Gauntlet

In the early days since A-Tono launched this middle age/viking/fantasy adventure, a few things have become clear. First of all, Guardians: The Last Day of the Citadel is excellent proof that there is still room for fresh, innovative titles in the App Store that bear little resemblance to other games. And second, it’s vitally important that developers work out the kinks before letting the public get their hands on the product.

The thrust of the story behind Guardians centers on Loreena Eysgaard. Most of what you need to know about Ms. Eysgaard boils down to her being an athletic chick who wears Viking garb (but not much of it) and is constantly on the run. She’s a resident of the Citadel when an army called the Vash besieges it, and it falls on Loreena’s shoulders to fight her way out of the citadel, travel through portals, cast spells—and ultimately save the day.

It’s difficult to categorize Guardians. While it is technically a side-scrolling game, it seems more appropriate to label it as a gauntlet with occasional pauses. Loreena is constantly running, and its up to the player to make sure that she jumps, ducks, slashes, or cast spells at just the right moment. The game is a constant test of your reflexes, and the actions are accomplished by tapping and swiping in various directions… The action also slow down for the frequent duel against, say, a half-demon or a hunting spider. In these sequences, Guardians becomes sort of like Infinity Blade Lite, as Loreena walks back and forth, attacks, counters, and ultimately unleashes a killing blow.

It all amounts for a great combination of action that really never slows down. The music is upbeat and the side-scrolling unfolds at a nice pace. The atmospheric effects are also a great touch, as ceilings collapse or enemies approach from new angles, causing you to react in different ways. The Unity engine also proves very capable of providing top-tier visuals, with all the castles, forests, and dungeons being rendered in excellent detail—as long as you ever get a chance to take your eyes of the challenge at hand and take notice.

… But perhaps A-Tono was slightly distracted by providing such great visuals, and thus failed to ensure that the gameplay would unfold without a hitch upon launch. As much as I’d like to lavish praise on this addictive game, there is currently a heavily-distracting glitch that is garnering the game some very unwanted attention. It’s being called the “zoom-in” effect, and it frequently throws off the perspective badly enough to make the game unplayable at points. Calling this a big deal is an understatement, and A-Tono simply can’t work fast enough to get an update out that will resolve the problem. Otherwise, Guardians will get burried in one-star reviews that it really doesn’t deserve.

But the app’s iTunes page is clear to state that only SOME users are experiencing this problem. And who knows, maybe you’ll be lucky enough to have your device play the game flawlessly. Either way, you’ll definitely want to spend $4.99 to pick up Guardians either now (flaws and all) or later when everything is resolved. It offers a great journey that caters very well to the type of fast-paced action and clearly-defined touch controls that work best on the iPhone. Sure, the whole thing is beleaguered by some very unfortunate flaws accompanying its release, but Ms. Eysgaard and her historic adventure will manage to rise above thanks to irresistible gameplay.

Our Score: 4 Out of 5

In-Depth Gameplay Footage

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