Roundguard review
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Roundguard review

Our Review by Campbell Bird on April 25th, 2023
Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: ARCADE GEM
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This puzzle-y, arcade-y roguelite makes dungeon-crawling a relaxing but surprisingly deep experience.

Developer: Wonderbelly Games

Price: $6.99
App Reviewed on: iPad Pro

Graphics/Sound Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar
User Interface Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar
Gameplay Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar
Replay Value Rating: starstarstarstarstar

Overall Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar

Apple Arcade has proven to be a pretty underwhelming service despite the fact that some standout titles debuted there. One such title is Roundguard, which has re-released on the regular App Store and is a creative mix of dungeon-crawling and arcade pinball action. Do yourself and pick up this stellar title.

Loot then bounce

Roundguard is a sort of pachinko or pinball game that is most reminiscent of something like Peggle. You launch a ball from the top of your screen down onto a series of pins and try to hit as many of them as you can to net a high score. Roundguard styles itself after classic dungeon-crawlers and role-playing games though so your ball is actually an adventurer and all the pins in a level are treasures, potions, enemies, and more.

At the bottom of the room are dungeon spikes that can chip away at your health if you're not careful, so the crux of the game revolves around balancing scoring and surviving, and Roundguard gives you a lot of tools to allow you to manage that beyond aiming your shots and hoping for the best. Each character in the game has unique abilities and gear that you can upgrade and swap out across a run that--if played right--can take you through several different dungeons and give you a run at posting a new high score.

Game of chance

There are a few different ways to play Roundguard. In the game's primary mode, you choose a character to play as before going on a standard dungeon run that has branching pathways allowing you to choose mini-bosses to fight, treasure rooms to explore, etc. (though you do have to aim well to choose the room you want to go). There are also daily and weekly challenges though that have pre-select your character and their gear and often push you to play the game in a different way, like managing constant poison, no gravity, or other strange modifiers.

This variety is what keeps Roundguard feeling fresh. Between all of the different kinds of gear, trinkets, game modifiers, etc. it's not often that a run in Roundguard feels exactly like one you've played before. The fundamental idea of aiming shots to try and maximize score stay the same, but the ways in which you do that can and do change often and sometimes drastically.

Chill, but not casual

If you ever played Roundguard while it was on Apple Arcade, this new standalone version of the game syncs perfectly with your Game Center account and retains all of your progress and scores from the subscription version. This was welcome news for me in booting up this new version of the app since I did not want to start from scratch on unlocking new encore modifiers or relics.

I didn't want to start over because Roundguard has over 200 items and trinkets in it that switch up the experience. I enjoy unlocking and optimizing combinations of these items to try and maximize my scoring potential, but the nice thing about Roundguard is you don't really have to do that. The game has a ton of depth if you want to explore it, but it's also just a relaxing little pinball game that rewards you even if you don't try to bend everything it has to offer to your will.

The bottom line

Roundguard repackages the dungeon-crawler in a way that is relaxing and perfectly suited for mobile. I wasn't too keen on recommending folks to buy into a subscription just to enjoy this game and a handful of other gems, but now that I don't have to I heartily recommend Roundguard to anyone wanting a fun, charming, and deep dungeon-crawler on their phone.

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