Guardian Tales is one of the funniest games I've ever played. From the hilarious script that pulls a laugh out of you at every turn and the quirky animations during cutscenes, not a moment went by when I didn't have a smile on my face. This gacha game is so much more than meets the eye, and the more you play – the more it has to offer.
Guardian Tales is an adventure RPG from Kakao Games, a company heavily involved in two popular PC franchises, PUBG and Path of Exile. That experience shines through in Guardian Tales, a gacha title so well-crafted that it wouldn't be out of place on a home console. You play as the Legendary Guardian, a being fabled to save the world of Kanterbury from the evil forces cursing its soil. Like most mobile games, the story isn't anything spectacular. Rather, it's just a vehicle for the stupidly fantastical dialogue. Within the first half hour you'll be called an "ogreface," scolded for casually strolling a dangerous forest, and lectured on the efficiency of orphanages. It's all par for the course in Guardian Tales, and nothing is off limits.
It's not just the NPC dialogue that's funny either. You'll often be given choices throughout your journey, and while they don't have a big impact on the story, they can lead to some funny interactions with your party members. One notable example came early on in the third World, where I was confronted by ghosts and given the option to either attack them or "Cower behind the girl." Picking the latter option sees your character turn his back to the spooky ghosts and literally start shaking in his boots. It's small things like this scattered throughout the entirety of Guardian Tales that makes it such a joy to play – you never know what ridiculous thing will happen next.
When you're not laughing at the story, you'll be battling enemies using a deceptively simple combat system. You and a few party members will head out into battle, and you'll be given a basic attack and a Weapon Skill to use. Your Weapon Skill is tied to a cooldown bar, but you can spam your regular attack as much as you'd like. At first blush it's a basic system – with only two attack options, there doesn't seem to be much depth. That is, until you unlock Chain Skills.
Chain Skills can be pulled off with teammates that have a complementary set of requirements. For example, one Chain Skill of my teammate might require enemies to be Airborne before it can be used. Meanwhile, my Weapon Skill causes the Airborne status effect – allowing me to reliably use my teammates Chain Skill. It's a bit more complicated that than, but – long story short – combat involves a lot more strategy than you'd expect.
The only thing missing from it is a dodge button. Instead, you can sprint to move out of harms way, but a dedicated button to quickly roll out your enemies red targeting cones would have made combat even more dynamic and engaging. Still, there's not much to complain about when it comes to Guardian Tales' gameplay. It's easily one the most compelling systems in the gacha genre and is sure to give the game an incredible shelf-life.
Outside of combat you'll be able to level up characters, enhance their weapons, summon new characters, and even summon new weapons. Summons are delivered via drone, and you'll even need to sign some paperwork before you can open them. It's very much like opening a gift on your birthday, with each item and character coming in their own packaging. After about four hours of playing I've found the system is very free-to-play friendly, and I've been able to summon over a dozen new characters and items without dropping a dime.
I won't go into much detail about all the ways to level up your character, but rest assured it's nothing out of the ordinary for the genre. You can level up weak items by fusing them with unwanted gear, there's a massive skill tree to navigate that grows with your characters, and there are several dungeons you can delve into if you're looking to boost up your abilities before a difficult boss fight. I'd recommend holding onto as many items as you can at the beginning of Guardian Tales, as you never know if it will become useful once you summon a new character. There's a lot going on while leveling your characters, but none of it feels tacked on just for the sake of "stat-chasing," and you'll see tangible benefits when you take the time to use each feature.
The amount of content packed into Guardian Tales beyond its story mode is impressive. You've got an entire town to piece together, Guilds to join, various side quests to delve into, hidden secrets throughout nearly every level, and even a wonderful end game PvP system – Kakao Games left no stone unturned when it came to offering a robust set of game modes. Each system could almost be its own game, that's how much detail went into each and every system. Rest assured that no matter what you're doing, you're progressing your character in one form or antoher.
When it comes down to it, Guardian Tales is one of the best mobile games I've played throughout all of 2020. Wonderful pixelart graphics, beautiful animations and particle effects, hilarious dialogue, and frenetic combat all merge together to turn this unassuming gacha title into one of the best mobile experiences of the year. No matter what you look for in your games, Guardian Tales is bound to have it in spades.