This section contains major plot details from the end of the game. If you have not yet completed the game on any difficulty, then read no further!
Guardians are large, mysterious Creatures found only in the Depths ( Rubicon if playing as Saint). Their main purpose is preventing the player from finishing the game if maximum Karma has not yet been attained.
Appearance[edit | edit source]
Guardians are among the tallest entities in the game, towering far above the Slugcat. Despite this size, the only part of a Guardian that can be physically interacted with is its rectangular head - everything below is considered part of the background and can be walked right through. Their heads are adorned with a red mark resembling the tenth Karma symbol. This cross is dim when idle, but lights up whenever the Guardian is provoked.
Right below the head are 4 narrow arms gradating to a light grey, with two black rings around each. A series of beads hangs from each arm, seemingly connecting to their bodies, which get progressively darker the further they are down the chain. The arms can move independently of one another, but usually move in tandem with one another. Additionally, these gestures seem to synchronize with the halo - arguably the most prominent feature of a Guardian - which are made up of rings filled with various glyphs seen nowhere else in the game, orbiting around the center in alternating directions. Magnifying rings skim across the halo, linking together various glyphs and shifting them around. This projection may change size, even gaining additional rings depending on what the Guardian is doing. It typically stays the same size while idle, but grows when aggravated. Occasionally, when their heads move, projecting lines between it and their halos may be seen briefly.
The meanings of the eight unique glyphs featured in the halos are unclear, though their design was likely inspired by the Thai abugida.
Abilities & Behavior[edit | edit source]
Guardians are stationary and passive by default, ignoring all and any creatures until provoked. They enter a somewhat aggressive state if any creature attempts to walk by them without having attained the highest karma level, with aggression increasing on each repeated attempt. In this state, their halos grow larger, the mark on their face glows a bright red.
Telekinesis[edit | edit source]
When angered, Guardians use their telekinesis on whichever creature aggravated them. Any creatures or Objects near the target are also affected, which means that - even with maximum Karma - the player may still be moved around if they bring a creature that triggers the Guardian's aggression with them. Guardians first launch the Slugcat away, seemingly trying to send them back the way they came. However, after sending them back a second time and being approached a third, the Guardians begin violently slamming the Slugcat into the ground until it eventually dies from velocity. With other creatures, the Guardians skip the first step and proceed straight to attempting to kill the creature, though this does not work due to the fact that no creature other than the Slugcat is affected by fall damage.
This section contains major plot details from Saint. If you have not made significant progress or completed the game as Saint, then read no further!
Chains[edit | edit source]
In the Saint's campaign, Guardians in the Rubicon block pipe entrances and exits with chains instead of using telekinesis to kill the Slugcat. They often spawn powerful creatures as well to try and kill Saint. Saint can ascend the Guardians, but they seem to be more resilient than other creatures, requiring three ascensions instead of just one. The creatures are not required to be killed to exit the room, just the Guardian. Creatures can still leave through blocked pipes.
Skip[edit | edit source]
As the Monk or the Survivor, it is possible to get past a Guardian without having maximum Karma by eating a Mushroom and throwing two Flashbangs to blind the Guardian. This was initially unintended, but made a feature as it is now specifically patched out for the Hunter only.
Relationships[edit | edit source]
|Default relationship||Uncomfortable (1)|
|Considers as its pack||Guardian (0)|
Trivia[edit | edit source]
- There is a decal right outside of the tutorial area depicting them, called "Boxheads" in the game files.
- There are a total of six Guardians in the Depths. Three of them can be found in the same room before the lower caverns, and interestingly, the rightmost one is completely passive, letting the player pass at any Karma level.
- Other than using a Mushroom and Flashbangs, other, unintended ways of skipping the Guardians include:
- Manipulating the Guardians to throw Slugcat straight up and then throw-boosting to reach the pipe into the lower caverns.
- Distracting the Guardians with another living creature, such as a Vulture Grub, Hazer or tamed Lizard. The Guardians cannot kill these creatures due to them not taking fall damage, therefore they get stuck in a constant loop of attempting to kill it, giving an opportunity to slip by.
- Abusing load times and areas to interrupt the game as it attempts to load the Guardians in the final room containing them, preventing them from loading entirely (commonly used in Any% speedruns).
- The Guardian's halo is called a "think-ring" in code.
- The starting position of the halo is randomized for each Guardian.
- The eight glyphs that it displays are numbered from 0-6 (with the dot glyph designated as -1). These glyphs may compose a base-7 number system, making the "think-rings" a sort of abacus.
- Guardians may sometimes spawn with a crooked head.