En Garde! game demo preview: an action game that combines energetic combat and a playful style into a worthy addition to the Zorro mythology.

En Garde! Is the Zorro Game I’ve Always Wanted – Preview

There are a number of popular time periods that fictional stories tend to gravitate to, including medieval Europe, ancient Greece, or modern-day New York City just to name a few. Spanish-ruled California isn’t high up on that list, but its setting is fertile ground for En Garde! to play in as an obvious homage to the story of Zorro.

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Johnston McCulley’s 1919 book The Curse of Capistrano launched a pulp icon, as well as numerous iterations and offshoots of the character and his adventures. But weirdly, Zorro and the character’s historical setting have laid dormant for decades. Fireplace Games cribs from that well-loved mythos and matches its energy with an original character of its own.

En Garde! places you in the boots of Adalia de Volador, a quick-witted and adventurous swordswoman seeking to make a name for herself as a guardian against an overbearing ruling class. The game’s demo takes you through its tutorial stage, which not only acts as an introduction to its mechanics but to its Hispanic setting.

En Garde! game demo preview: an action game that combines energetic combat and a playful style into a worthy addition to the Zorro mythology.

You’re immediately greeted by hard-strummed guitars and the rhythmic clacking of castanets. Adalia and her mentor / brother who is already a wanted man known as El Vigilante speak English, but they have thick, over-dramatic Spanish accents surely meant to appeal to the largest possible pool of players. And the backstreets they run through are filled with beautiful flowers, colorful banners, and wanted posters dotting the brick-lain walls. I admit I like the cartoonish level of authenticity as the game’s overall tone is comedic with constant verbal jabs and quips to accompany the copious amounts of physical comedy present in its combat.

Adalia’s fighting abilities include basic attacks, a parry, a dodge, and a kick meant to send enemies reeling into objects, off ledges, or each other. The environment plays a huge role in fighting, as her kick can also send objects into enemies. She can slide over tables to create space, and some items can be grabbed and thrown with various effects, like igniting fires or blinding guards by dropping buckets on their heads. It’s all as funny as it is effective.

Adalia has also got some platforming chops in En Garde!, as she’s able to swing on bars and bounce off nets like trampolines to clear gaps and circumvent locked gates, but I was a little disappointed to see that not much of these acrobatics seem tied to the combat, at least not in the tutorial or arena level available in the demo. Combat is still enjoyable without these hijinks, and expect some difficulty dealing with large groups of enemies or the few that require multiple successful parries to open their guard if you don’t make use of your environment.

En Garde! game demo preview: an action game that combines energetic combat and a playful style into a worthy addition to the Zorro mythology.

Despite the challenge, the mood remains light as Adalia and her enemies are incredibly quippy. I chuckled more than a few times at the back-and-forth between both sides. It’s just cheesy enough without crossing over into annoyance, and that lighthearted pulp is exactly the tone that the best takes on Zorro will consistently hit.

The last mainstream iteration of the character consisted of 1998’s The Mask of Zorro and its 2005 follow-up, The Legend of Zorro, both starring Antonio Banderas. In our current age of perpetually recycled IP, it’s only a matter of time before the series makes a comeback in some shape or form, but En Garde!’s world and gameplay are definitely a nice stopgap.


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KC Nwosu
KC Nwosu has been making video game content for nearly half a decade. He also streams with his son Starboy who has legitimately won a Mario Kart race against him.