Game Octane was given a copy of this game for use in this review. All content contained within the article are the sole thoughts and opinion of the author and has not been influenced or doctored in any way.
The Guise, a macabre metroidvania by one man army Rasul Mono, has the very unique premise of having one play as a four legged monster rather than something bipedal. It opens up new gameplay options and a fresh take on exploration. Potential doesn’t always equal pleasure however. Is The Guise for you? Read on and find out.
The story is you are a boy in an orphanage. You and your fellow orphans barge into the caretakers room. inside you find a mask and it just happens to be put on your face and you turn into a beastly creature. after that; it basically ends up being you trying to find a way to remove the mask while helping people you meet along the way. for a metroidvania, that’s more than enough to get you playing and it works with the art style and overall feel of the game. There is certainly more background for those willing to search it out though; which helps get more out of the otherwise “fill the map” gameplay the genre is most known for.
Art style is somewhat fitting. It’s got that Halloween, spooky vibe but it’s simplistic design feels like it was designed for a younger audience. This is worry some because the gameplay is not going to be kind to them by any stretch (more on that later). Screen shake while walking is also hard on the eyes. discretion is advised for those who are photosensitive. (play further to make sure it stays) this improves slightly once you are able to run but it’s not enough to help much. overall It’s very forgettable much like the sound design. The music, a rare occurrence it seems, is actually good and fitting. I think more effort should have been put in increasing sound effect volume and filling the void with more music. Volume of attack sounds, for example, is very muted as is the atmospheric background. It all ends up being unsatisfying in general. C-
First thing the game asks on boot up is what language you want. It happens EVERY time. This should be saved in a system file somewhere and is the beginning of the lack of polish that breaks The Guise; turning what could have been a simplistic yet satisfying experience into a chore. The options are very clean and well designed. You can pretty much do anything you need to from a glance. You also get several save slots to choose from. Once you gain control of your character however things start to fall apart. You will find out early on that you can heal yourself. The problem though is it takes ten kills to be able to refill your health at the start of the game but you only have five hits total. This is very unkind to new players and inflates the difficulty from an otherwise manageable level. Most of the time you will simply run from enemies because you will be too hurt to risk combat. all enemies drop eyes, the currency, and that means you will not be able to purchase much; until you find enough power ups and abilities to survive most enemies. Your I frames are also very short. Normally this isn’t an issue, but for the few hits you can take, this further emphasizes slow, calculated, combat and running away more often than fighting. It was very frustrating seeing all those enemies I was running from because I couldn’t risk taking a hit and that meant missing out on a lot of eyes. Did i mention the amount of eyes you need for anything is absurd? 800 to upgrade your first ability. It discourages collecting and fighting further. bosses feel like little more than regular enemies you can’t avoid but have enough hp to take five minutes to slay.
Map design is room based and not tile based like other games in the genre. This makes it harder to know what you explored already. Save spots and teleportation spots are two different things as well. This should be all in one for easier travel and to give a quality of life measure to the player. Early on you are met with a quest but you won’t be able to teleport back after its been taken care of and that was very frustrating for me. If you die, you simply get a game over screen and you need to reload your last save. you do not go to your last save area or teleported. You do not retain any progress, including your stash of eyes. You just have to restart; further compounding how frustrating it is to play this game. One can argue that’s the norm for this genre that is generally more retro influenced but the early game is so frustrating. It just feels like a more modern direction would have saved it in this regard. After playing for an hour, I simply wanted nothing to do with confronting enemies. I simply explored and only engaged when it was needed; like say long ranging something that explodes.
Hit boxes for platforms are too large in some places; making moving difficult when you have a more narrow spot that you can fall into to get somewhere. Instead, you’ll just walk over the gap and be on the other side. Pressing down will change your stance so its not intuitive when needing to be ducked for dropping down levels or doing down attacks. it also makes it so after jumping or being in a spot that has its own specific move sets, you will be unable to say press down to use your long range attack. Even more frustrating is if you did duck for a long range attack, it would reset your stance so you would need to press down again to be able to fire again. Jump attacks will keep you in the air without any control; just you stuck there till its done. analogue control is very sensitive and often pressing down will move your character left or right. Overall the game controls very poorly aside from moving left or right. A shame because you need to jump, duck, attack in the air, attack from afar… Lets just say the true nightmare isn’t that you turned into a horrifying beast but rather you have to play as one. D
The Guise is masking it’s true potential with a severe lack of polish that ends in unintuitive, frustrating gameplay and a complete lack of immersion. It’s a very impressive showing by one person but it just needed more time to be ready. Luckily the developer is taking community suggestions and is working on bug fixes. For now though this game is a hard pass. D+
- Menuing is clean and intuitive.
- The music is very good.
- Art design of the background is beautiful.
- Gameplay is just brutally unpolished.
- Early game is far too unforgiving.
- Sound design is far too low volume to realize it's even there.