If it's a hole, it's a goal.

Just how much can you achieve with a collection of store-bought assets? Guardians of the Ashes manages to achieve quite a lot, but perhaps the lack of polish undermines the game’s achievements. Let’s take a closer look at the twin-stick RPG from Mature Games.

Guardians of the Ashes is a twin-stick shooter with RPG elements, developed and published by Mature Games. In the past, they have produced a couple of erotic puzzle games, the aptly-titled rhythm game, Love Rhythm, and a shoot’em up titled Hentai Girl Division. Guardians of the Ashes is the latest, and largest, project so far from the developer.

The game begins with its protagonist, a soldier named Nel, being chased by demons through an ancient temple. Running for her life, she enters what turns out to be the resting chamber of sacred guardian spirits. As Nel bears a resemblance to the guardian's mother, they offer her aid without hesitation. With no other choice available, Nel accepts their help, and the player is plunged right into gameplay.

Guardians of the Ashes doesn't like to waste time. It won't be long before you pursue your first major enemies.

It will be a while later, after leaving the ancient temple and defeating the first boss, that the game finds time to introduce players to the story at large. Nel was investigating terrorist activity in an abandoned town. While there, she discovered an entrance to a temple, which has taken her to a hidden, fantastic land.

As it turns out, long ago, the father of humanity took it upon himself to bear the sins of mankind, but this act corrupted him. He became a demon lord and his trusted guardians transformed into the Seven Deadly Sins. Since then, they have periodically come back to life and release their demonic armies onto the world. It is the duty of the chosen one to become a vessel for the sacred guardians of Eva and defeat the Sins each time they rise.

For as uninspired as the story of Guardians of the Ashes sounds, the game truly makes the most it can out of this premise. There’s plenty of plot twists and revelations that keep propelling the narrative forward, though, they may still be predictable. I wouldn’t call the story particularly clever, as it doesn’t manage to become anything more than mediocre in the end, but the pacing keeps it interesting.

What undermines all of that effort to keep the story engaging is the game’s awkward translation, which stopped me from becoming too invested in the narrative. The story is told through dialogue that, while written correctly, comes off as clumsy and robotic.

Singular lines of dialogue read well, but while experiencing an entire conversation something always seems off.

Guardians of the Ashes combines the gameplay of a twin-stick shooter with RPG elements, utilized in a partially open world. Throughout your adventure, you’ll walk through four hub areas: two magical forests, a desert, and a tundra. All of which are populated by monsters and house entrances to dungeons. While the game is linear in the beginning, it opens up later on, providing you with multiple dungeons to explore in any order. Some locations are completely optional and even feature hidden bosses.

There are thirty-five main quests and four side missions. No matter their objective, they will always boil down to fighting through hordes of demons and a boss at the end. Guardians of the Ashes relies on its combat system to provide you with entertainment, and it does a good job. You'll be shooting down legions of monsters, weaving between waves of bullets, and navigating through trap-filled corridors, all the while managing a decent selection of playable characters, whom you can swap between at will.

For example, this would be a great moment to pick Kristie for her special parry skill. I wish I thought of that sooner.

You initially have access to three guardian spirits, with two more spirits who join you later in the game. Each spirit has its own attack and can equip up to five skills. For example, Allysse throws kunai for physical damage, Lynn creates slow but explosive magical orbs, Kristie and Arisa use melee attacks, while Miri has access to rapid-firing magic spells. You can swap between them at any time, and the game recommends that you master at least two, due to resistances enemies have.

Certain foes can be resistant to magic damage, physical damage, or even both. This is meant to force you to swap between guardians in the middle of combat — at least, that’s the theory. In practice, I didn't meet an enemy resistant solely to magic damage. You could ignore the character swap mechanic and play through the entire game as one of the spellcasters. The only exception to that is on the occasion when you have to use Kristie’s unique ability to remove immunity barriers from certain bosses, and you can swap back to your preferred waifu right after doing that. While interesting, the character switching system doesn't feel fully utilized by the game's design.

By the time you beat the game, you'll unlock sex scenes with all characters, but it will happen faster for those you frequently play as.

Guardians of the Ashes features a large variety of enemies which remain deadly throughout the entire experience. Ranged monsters have different projectiles and patterns, while melee monsters have various resistances, charge attacks, and other buffs. My favorite of the lot was an invisible scarecrow that you can only track on the minimap. Of course, with the game being close to a hack and slash in its nature, the variety feels largely cosmetic, as monsters rarely live long enough to leave any lasting impression.

The game's difficulty is not to be underestimated, though. No matter which dungeon you're in, getting hit by the wrong projectile can put you in dire straits. This is especially true while fighting bosses: their barrage of attacks often covers the entire screen, and leaves little room for the player to breathe. While traversing dungeons is a challenge of endurance, clawing your way to the next checkpoint, boss fights are much shorter bursts of difficulty. I’ve encountered seventeen bosses, most of which had multiple phases of relentless attacks, but, once mastered, could be beaten in a minute or two.

There’s also a mild puzzle aspect to the game. You will run across traps, switch puzzles, and somewhat hidden jump points. Each guardian girl has something unique about her that will let you navigate those challenges. For example, Lynn can freeze traps in place, while Miri lifts blocks with telekinesis. These parts of the game are short and simplistic, not contributing enough to freshen the experience and don't affect the overall difficulty. Having to swap your guardian to carry a block doesn't matter when you can just switch them out again if any monsters show up.

No, this is not sugar glaze.

To keep its level of challenge somewhat reasonable, Guardians of the Ashes features two difficulty modes, a couple of forgiving mechanics, and a variety of customization options.

The adventure and hell difficulty modes vary in regards to monster strength, and if you die in adventure mode, you get to keep your collected souls. These are used to upgrade your characters, and I'd say you easily get enough of them in hell mode. On the adventure difficulty, it won't take long before you overlevel your characters and completely trivialize the game. This is why I’ve found hell to be much better paced, and funny enough, not as hellish as one may expect. Monsters will still die in a couple of shots, but they still hit hard enough to pose some form of danger to the player.

No matter which mode you choose, the game will provide you with health potions that recharge at checkpoints. Your main incentive for exploration will be to find more of these potions. By the middle of the game, the only thing you'll be scared of is being stunned or killed in one shot, while the latter will happen despite the game's efforts in trying to prevent it. Once your health drops to zero, you will remain alive until anything hits you again, at which point you'll die. The problem is that if, say, you've been hit by five bullets at once, or the attack sets you on fire, the extra hits will finish you off. If you try to rely heavily on this mechanic, the game will be frustrating at times.

Every character has one sex scenes with a small degree of interactivity.

Leveling up is done separately for each character. For the guardian spirits, you can upgrade their damage or attack speed. For Nel herself, you can increase her health, skill points, or stamina. Skill points serve as mana, while stamina is needed for dodging. Every time you increase a stat, that given character levels up, making their next upgrade more expensive.

Your relationship with the spirit guardians has its own level, which increases as you play through the game. At certain relationship levels, new erotic scenes will be unlocked, of which there's two per character: one for foreplay, and another for consummation. These scenes feature basic animation and fully voiced, cringe-worthy dialogue, which tries way too hard to be sexy.

As you're out exploring the world of Guardians of the Ashes, you will find ancient scrolls and rings. The rings provide powerful passive bonuses and even some lore tidbits in their descriptions. You can wear up to six rings at once, which may sound like a lot, but their effects are powerful and varied enough that choosing between them can be a tough decision.

Scrolls can be exchanged with NPCs for new skills. Most of them are shared between multiple guardians, but each has at least one unique skill of her own. The skills will gather experience and level up with use, so it’s important to start utilizing them early. They’re all fun, and while some of them felt a bit too powerful in dungeons, they don’t circumvent the challenge that bosses pose. Additionally, there are some consumable items scattered about, but their variety and usefulness is minimal.

The game's level design does a great job at maintaining a sense of depth, despite a fixed camera angle.

Scrolls can be exchanged with NPCs for new skills. Most of them are shared between multiple guardians, but each has at least one unique skill of her own. The skills will gather experience and level up with use, so it’s important to start utilizing them early. They’re all fun, and while some of them felt a bit too powerful in dungeons, they don’t circumvent the challenge that bosses pose. Additionally, there are some consumable items scattered about, but their variety and usefulness is minimal.

Overall, the game’s presentation is a mixed bag. A large number of assets used for the game are prefabs from the Unity store. This isn’t a big deal in terms of area design, as maps are dense in props, interesting in shape, and follow a coherent art direction. The opposite is true of common enemies roaming the world, as each set feels like it’s been made by a different artist. Even the 3D models for main player sprites are pre-made assets, in this case, created by the artist SURIYUN. This is also not a major issue in itself normally, as plenty of great games supplement their library with stock or pre-made assets; however, their use in Guardians of the Ashes is glaring, excessive, and sloppy.

A ninja fox girl and a soldier in a rugby helmet walk into a dungeon... I think there's a joke in there.

When it comes to the music, during my playthrough of Guardians of the Ashes, I paid little attention, likely due to the game’s frantic pace. I only noticed it practically at the very end of the game, when one of the songs featured lyrics that drew my attention. After taking more time to appreciate the songs, I find them forgettable, but still distinct enough to bring a unique character to each area.

Guardians of the Ashes isn’t without its problem in the technical department. There’s a number of small bugs that make the production feel unprofessional. A couple of times, I accidentally glitched out of bounds, though I thankfully was able to get back the same way I left. There are a few places with flickering textures or even pieces of geometry appearing and disappearing. The monster summoning animation doesn’t always play, causing enemies to pop out of thin air. There were also two or three times when an enemy AI would just shut down and stand in place until I killed them. None of these issues were large enough to break my experience, but their presence can’t be ignored.

At least it sounds like her first time.

There are many areas where Guardians of the Ashes could have done things better. With a bit more polish and commitment, it could have stood as a proper, well-regarded indie title. Despite that, I don’t regret my time spent with the game. It doesn’t accomplish anything in an amazing way, but it also isn’t bad at any one element either, aside from the stiff dialogue. You probably have better games to play at the moment, whether you’re looking for a twin-stick shooter or an eroge; however, if you feel bored and want to burn ten hours for a mere three bucks, I think it’s an okay deal. Personally, I might even take a look at future games from this developer, to see if they manage to build on their experience.

You can purchase Guardians of the Ashes on Steam for $2.99. Adult content is available separately for the title as a free DLC.


  • Engaging combat
  • Multiple characters to choose from
  • Large amount of challenging bosses
  • Plentiful content for a small price


  • Visual glitches
  • Minimal erotic content
  • Stiff, robotic dialogue
  • Replay Value
  • Art and Graphics
  • Sound
  • Story
  • Gameplay


The game features two sex scenes for each guardian spirit, bringing the game's number of erotic scenes to a total of ten images. They don’t feature any unusual fetishes, are all fully voiced, and contain basic animation.

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