A Generic Journey
JOFSOFT Corp’s Guardian’s Odyssey: The Blazing Fire asks one simple question: Do you want to watch a cute girl hit people with a sword? That might sound reductive, but it’s the best way to describe this hack-and-slash action RPG. Stylish but lacking in substance, Guardian’s Odyssey is fun at first but probably not worth your time.
The plot of Guardian’s Odyssey is standard fantasy fare. The main character, Donte, is the daughter of one of the seven guardians of her fantasy kingdom. An evil king killed the guardians, and Donte is on a quest to avenge her father and defeat the tyrant king. To accomplish this, she’ll first need to recover the Guardian’s Gear and prove herself worthy of wielding it.
Overall, there isn’t much going on story-wise, and Guardian’s Odyssey has a problem with telling instead of showing. After escaping the King’s forces, Donte’s next main objective is to speak with the witch, Penelope. She becomes an important recurring character but never once appears on the screen. In fact, every story event is relayed to you after the fact in about two sentences. I’m not saying that I expect fully voiced cinematics, but I would have liked at least one instance of two characters interacting. If Pokémon Red could pull that off in 1996, the developers of Guardian’s Odyssey could have figured something out.
Hackin’ and Slashin’
Guardian’s Odyssey depends entirely on the gameplay to carry it, and there are times when it almost does. Combat is the one place where the game shines, although your mileage may vary. Donte has a basic sword attack, a shield and four abilities. Ghost Blow allows her to unleash a flurry of attacks against a stunned enemy. Smash does triple attack damage to a single target. Stomp damages every enemy in melee range, while Dash sends our girl flying after the most distant foes. She will also build up Rage with every attack, unleashing it as bonus damage from her special abilities. Four abilities and a basic attack is not a massive range of options for an RPG, and the enemies aren’t that varied either. Sure, you have knights and orcs and pirates and more, but it’s really just the same three enemies with different skins.
One unusual thing about Guardian’s Odyssey is that you don’t have any control over which enemy you attack. Donte moves and targets enemies automatically. You can change targets by using the Dash ability, but you have no meaningful control over who she goes after. While this may sound odd, I think I understand why they did this. My theory is that JOFSOFT wanted to avoid the usability issues that come with a simulated joystick on touch screen devices. Their system works fine for the most part, but there were a few times when I ran into trouble because I couldn’t pick my targets.
The Grind Begins
The lack of control really became a problem during the boss fights. I usually prefer to clear out the minions first so that I can take the big guys down in peace, but that wasn’t an option here. The camera didn’t help either, as I often couldn’t even see what the larger bosses were doing. And that’s when they weren’t being frustrating for some other reason. The third boss could stun lock you all day long, while the fourth liked to hit you with unblockable ranged attacks. The only way to beat them was to be massively over-leveled, which means grinding Donte’s petite little butt off.
In addition to the campaign, Guardian’s Odyssey offers two varieties of what it calls dungeons. These are more like challenge modes and primarily exist to farm upgrade materials. Engrave Dungeons give you Engrave Stones, which boost an item’s attributes. They consist of large arenas with infinitely spawning enemies. The more you kill within the time limit, the more stones and experience points you get. The other option is the Awaken Dungeon, where you have to fight two campaign bosses at once. There is also a one vs. one multiplayer arena. You earn rewards by defeating other players. The higher your rank, the better the prizes. There’s not much else to it.
Overall, Guardian’s Odyssey didn’t exactly blow my mind. The combat is fun for a while, but it doesn’t make up for the amount of grind. Play the game until you get bored, then never think about it again.
Is It Hardcore?
Guardian’s Odyssey: The Blazing Fire is fun for a while, but the excitement eventually gives way to repetition and boredom. I might have been more forgiving if it wasn’t so blatantly generic.