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Ironguard Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . From the unbalanced weapons to the repetitive enemies to the lackluster level designs, there's a lot about Ironguard that took me out of the experience. It's not even that challenging, especially after you've memorized the enemy placement in each room. This is yet another familiar outing that doesn't do much to break new ground. You're better off playing Tower of Guns while you wait for somebody to actually do something innovative with this genre. Rating: 57%
Ironguard
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  • Review Score:

  • C+
It's a pattern you've seen countless times before: Somebody comes up with an innovative idea that takes the industry by storm, and then everybody else rips it off until you completely forget why you liked the idea in the first place. I think that's where I'm at with first-person roguelikes. What seemed like an exciting way to breathe new life into the genre has been repeated so many times that they're all starting to blur together.

Sadly, Ironguard is not going to be the game that reinvents the first-person roguelike shooter. Instead of coming up with some sort of unique gimmick, what we're given is a paint-by-numbers retread of Tower of Guns that hides its lack of originality behind a wall of intense action. It's the kind of game that confirms why the genre is so much fun without actually contributing anything new to the formula.


For what it's worth, there is a reason why the formula is so popular. The idea of a procedurally generated map filled with randomly scattered weapons is appealing, especially for those who want to be able to replay a game dozens of times. It's also inherently tense, since a single death means you'll lose all your progress and start over from the very beginning. There are no checkpoints or safety nets to be found, just a guy with a gun doing his best not to die.

Like most first-person roguelikes, there isn't much of a story in Ironguard. We start out in what appears to be an underground dungeon filled with floating bombs and unmanned gun turrets. There's a random gun at the start and not much else, so it's up to you to avoid the enemy fire, pick up experience points, buy new items, kill the bosses and survive the four challenging floors of fast-paced carnage. Simple.

As a first-person shooter, Ironguard gets the fundamentals right. While it's simple compared to most of today's shooters, the action is quick and controls feel precise. It's the kind of game where we're able to upgrade our hero with double jumps and healing shots, while also carrying special power-ups that can change the momentum of a fight. I doubt anybody is going to come away disappointed with the action.

Ironguard (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Unfortunately, I can't say the same about the rest of Ironguard. For as fun as the first-person shooting is, this is a game constantly tripping over the well-worn cliches. Let's start with the random level designs that never feel very random. Sure, they shuffle up the different rooms, but since there are only a few to shuffle, you'll end up seeing the same few rooms every playthrough. What's more, the enemies are always in the same spots, so the whole game comes down to little more than memorizing a few repetitive locations.

It doesn't help that the different floors are all bland and unremarkable in every possible way. You'll end up going through the same stages with the same enemies and the same boss fights every single time, which makes a lot of the roguelike elements feel tacked on at the last minute. Beyond the room placement and weapon pickups, there really isn't much here that truly feels random.

And speaking of those weapons, I was disappointed by how unbalanced they were. You start with an underpowered pea-shooter, but the game manages to drop a random secondary weapon in front of you before venturing into the labyrinth. The problem is that most of these weapons are ill-equipped for the job at hand, ultimately leaving you in a spot that's worse than where you started.

Ironguard (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

However, that's not true of every random weapon. In fact, there's one that outclasses the competition in every way. It's a speedy boomerang disc that is not only powerful, but also extremely quick. It cuts through those metallic enemies like it's nobody's business and, best of all, it doesn't use ammo. It's so effective that it often felt like a cheat code, to the point where I had a hard time going back to the regular pea-shooter.

This is a common complaint with this style of roguelike, but it's a lot worse in Ironguard. Often you'll see a handful of random weapons to choose from or random loot drop along the way, but that's not the case here. About the only help you'll find is store that sells overpriced weapons, though even that ended up being a disappointment. After a few hours, I found I was just restarting the game over and over until I found my boomerang disc.

From the unbalanced weapons to the repetitive enemies to the lackluster level designs, there's a lot about Ironguard that took me out of the experience. It's not even that challenging, especially after you've memorized the enemy placement in each room. This is yet another familiar outing that doesn't do much to break new ground. You're better off playing Tower of Guns while you wait for somebody to actually do something innovative with this genre.
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