By sheer coincidence, I watched the most recent Puss in Boots movie just a few days before En Garde! (Fireplace Games) arrived for review. The movie set the tone for what would become one of the most light-hearted video game adventures I’ve had this year. We have had some heavy and dark games this year between such titans as Baldur’s Gate 3 and Diablo IV, and so I think En Garde! is an enjoyable reprieve from the darkness.

My earlier mention of Puss in Boots is no accident, either. This game borrows heavily from the same source materials that the movie franchise does, like the old black-and-white Zorro epics. Of course, this means nothing if the game isn’t fun, and it delivers there, too. This is particularly true if you have been missing the style of the older Assassin’s Creed games because this reminded me of those quite a bit.

En Garde! features Adalia as a swashbuckling, Zorro-esque figure out to take down the local tyrants terrorizing her town. To that end, the game features a deceptively deep fencing system that brings some truly cinematic fight sequences to your computer. Like the Ezio-era Assassin Creed titles combat is primarily based around using the right combination of strikes, parries, and ripostes to take down your opponents. Unlike the older games, though, these enemies are more than happy to overwhelm you while you are focused on a single target, and indeed the game builds several mechanics around striking and evading quickly.

Early in the game, I had an encounter with two armored and two unarmored guards, and the armored guards kept pouncing on me when I tried to attack the weaker unarmored guards. Even though this was against cannon fodder enemies I had to approach the fight with caution. En Garde! is filled with these moments when you have to change your strategy on the fly.

The game’s engaging fight system is accompanied by bright colors, smooth animation and well-built environments. En Garde! is simply a visual treat, and well-optimized so I didn’t encounter any frame-rate issues. On top of that, the game features witty dialogue in both the narrative sequences and in the characters’ repartee. The writers and voice actors for this game clearly have a love for the genre, and it shines through in all the important ways.

The only complaint I could have against En Garde! is that the gameplay does not evolve much once you get past the starting areas. You will occasionally get upgrades or new combos to use in fights, but overall the game doesn’t change much. The already rather-high difficulty gets upped by adding new enemies who have differing attack patterns for you to memorize. This keeps things fresh, but Adalia herself doesn’t grow much as a fighter. Still, that’s not much of a complaint when the core of the combat is so good, to begin with.

En Garde! Review Final Thoughts:

There are a lot of good games that have come out recently or are on the near horizon, but you shouldn’t let En Garde! pass you by unnoticed. The excellent writing keeps the game moving along, and the precise controls will give you an enjoyable experience. The difficulty curve does ramp up quite a bit, but taking the time to learn opponents’ patterns pays dividends in the end.

I finished the game in around five hours (and dozens of deaths), and I was thoroughly satisfied with the experience. It was just the right length to not outstay its welcome, and fit nicely as a palate cleanser in-between longer games. Get yourself a Zorro mask and give this wonderful little game a try.

En Garde! for PC


En Garde! Review Score



  • Colorful and fluid graphics.
  • Excellent writing and voice acting.
  • Engaging swordplay.


  • May be on the short side for some.
  • Difficulty can reach near Souls-like at times.