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The Guise Review

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Normally we know what to expect from a Ratalaika Games published title – a short game that shovels all the achievements at you early doors, removing the desire to see the rest of the game like dew evaporating on a sunny morning. However, the latest title that they have released seems to have bucked this trend. 

The Guise, while not a massively long game, still makes you play through the whole thing if you want to get all the tasty Gamerscore points on offer. Has this marketing strategy change been a good thing, or should they stick to what they know?

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First thing I want to touch on is the presentation of the game, as The Guise has a very unique graphical look that I am a big fan of. It’s a hard one to describe, with nearly all the backdrop being almost monochrome, and the creatures and people you interact with being the only colourful things in view. The Guise is presented as a side scrolling platformer/action game, and the way the levels flow is also very good. The main protagonist, Ogden, moves very well whilst the creatures and monsters you encounter have been designed to a high standard. Even the human characters are vaguely disturbing, with large, jet black eyes. The aesthetic is very effective. 

Sound is more subtle, mind, with the sounds of fighting and lightning most vivid in my mind. The spoken scenes are dealt with by way of static text boxes, but all in all, I have been impressed with the design work that has gone into The Guise, delivered by the developer, Rasul Mono. 

The story is pretty good as well, playing out as almost a redemption tale. We are Ogden, a boy who lives in an orphanage with two other kids; looked after by a single woman. The woman in charge has only one rule – don’t go into her room, and then, of course, when she goes out, the kids do just that. Ogden is dared to try on a spooky mask that they find, and when he does, he is transformed into a monster. Now, obviously, Ogden would rather not be a monster for his entire life and so sets off on a mission to try and undo what has been done to him. And we get to control him!

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This sets the scene for an epic showdown, but the way to redemption is beset on all sides by thorns. Ogden, luckily, is not without defences in his new form – he can fight! What follows is a kind of Metroidvania experience, where defeating monster bosses grants Ogden new powers; for instance, killing the first boss grants him an acid spit ability. You can find teleporters too that allow you to revisit any previous area you have been to, which is pretty handy. 

Combat is fairly simple, to be honest, especially when you discover that LT is a dodge move that is handily not explained anywhere in the tutorial. As a starting point, Ogden can slash with his claws using the X button, and while other actions require different inputs (the acid spit move requires him to duck before pressing B, as an example), the combat remains pretty standard. Learning the move set of the various foes is important, as is noting the patterns of the bosses. And with repetition comes mastery. Again, as an early example, there are enemies with cloaks and knives who can take more hits than you’d think; their attacks being pretty severe. Dodging through them and attacking from behind, then rinsing and repeating is the key to killing them. There are enemies who explode when they die too, which are always fun, and the bosses have a bigger health bar than anything you’ll find in Elden Ring. Chipping away slowly is very much the key, and preserving your little amount of life is paramount. See,if you die, it’s right back to the last save point you rested at – no namby-pamby continuing here! Luckily, as you kill enemies, they can drop green orbs, and when Ogden picks up ten of them he can heal himself for one point of HP; which is a good reason to keep fighting. 

The other reason to keep fighting is that of the currency of The Guise. For some reason, that comes in the form of monsters’ eyes. Yes, you read that right, if you want to unlock new things at the Orphanage, you need to pay for upgrades with eyeballs. So, pretty much the whole game is running, jumping, fighting, battling bosses, dying, swearing, trekking back to where you were, and then rinsing and repeating. This makes The Guise sound a lot simpler than it actually is, but it certainly is challenging – the bosses in particular are very hard. As you explore, you can find quests to take on, and even amulets to equip that have various different effects when they are worn. These can be powered up by collecting enough eyes. 

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The Guise should do enough to impress you. The visual look, the challenge, the combat, and how Ogden constantly evolves is enough to make this one a recommendation. Yes, it isn’t the longest game ever, but what there is of it is very good. What more could we ask for, really? Give it a whirl, would be my advice. 

The Guise is on the Xbox Store

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