By Ferry "Sadhonker" Adams on May 12, 2016
Over the past couple of days, I’ve been roaming the monster-filled halls of a giant towering structure known as the Ziggurat. Now, you might not have heard of this arena of horrors, but being a fledgling Daedalon sorcerer, studying at the Greyhorn Citadel, I have. Furthermore, it is absolutely imperative that I make it all the way to the top floor and defeat all monsters in my way. This is the one and only way I can prove that I am worthy to be a member of the most powerful group of sorcerer’s this (and any) world has ever seen: the Daedalon Brotherhood!
Of course, as you may suspect, I am not really a sorcerer, ladies and gentlemen. But playing Ziggurat definitely makes you wish you were! This FPS / Dungeon crawler features fast-paced action and exploration, pitting you against some of the most dangerous creatures you have ever encountered. Flying flaming skulls, giant demons, goblin-like archers and killer carrots… Killer carrots?! Yes, you heard me right. Well, they’re not actually carrots, but Mandrakes, disguised like carrots. This way, they try to lull the unlucky adventurers into a false feeling of safety, before attacking them mercilessly and, as the game states, “pop their eyes out”. Now I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound very nice, does it now? That is exactly why I don’t trust vegetables!
Obviously, your main goal is to stay alive throughout numerous relentless attacks on your person. The objective of the game is to make it through a number of procedurally generated floors, until you reach the final floor and face off against the mightiest foe you have yet encountered in your short career as a sorcerer. To accomplish this dangerous task, you need to locate a portal key on each floor, fight your way through tons of enemies until you reach the boss room. When you enter the boss room with the portal key in your possession, you will summon that floor’s guardian (the boss… no, not Bruce Springsteen!) and magical mayhem ensues! As you start your game on floor one, you are equipped with a magic wand that fires bolts of mystical energy at your enemies, effectively reducing them to nothing. Of course, this wand will prove to be not powerful enough to defeat the more dangerous enemies, but works fine when you start your mission.
You will collect other weapons as you progress through the game, like a serpent or undead staff, a magma gun and powerful spells, learned from ancient tomes. Because every level of the game is procedurally generated, the weapons you’ll find will vary from play-through to play-through, as do the upgrades you collect as you level up. This leveling up is done by killing enemies and collecting their mystic aura, which turns into XP. The way in which you upgrade your character and weapons is probably one of the coolest features in Ziggurat.
Because I am not much of an RPG player, I always get stuck when it comes to upgrading or managing your skill-set. In Ziggurat, this poses no problem whatsoever. Every time you level up, the game prompts you that there are upgrades available. At the press of a button, a screen appears, showing the available upgrades. Then it is only a simple matter of choosing your favorite upgrade and flying straight back into the action. No tedious menus or over-complicated skill-trees or page-long descriptions of what this upgrade might do.
The thing that this upgrade process resembles most is, in my opinion, a card game, each perk representing a card you can play. When selected, the chosen perk will stay active for the rest of your game. By combining different perks,, you can build a really strong character that best suits your personal playing style. Need extra health? you’ve got it! Need extra walking or running speed by sacrificing a percentage of your maximum health? no problem! Extend your mana pool; Hey, whatever tickles your fancy! You can even select the same perk twice or more times to increase the power of that specific perk. Yes, boys and girls, this is definitely one of the best upgrade methods I have ever seen; it’s simple, fast and very, very effective!
The developers describe Ziggurat as being influenced heavily by the Heretic / Hexen games. And while this is undeniably true, I was also put in mind of a different, much older game. I think it’s the sorcery theme, combined with demons and other assorted hell-spawn that does it. Especially shooting balls of energy from your hand brings back memories of Catacomb Abyss. Graphics-wise, Ziggurat is a hell of a lot better than the aforementioned game, which is to be expected. Everything just looks really cool and menacing. Even the carrots look evil, in their own strange and vegetable way. Overall, the graphics are rock-solid and look really, really cool. I especially like the glorious particle effects the developers have used to spice up the already frantic battle. So although Ziggurat might not be a AAA title, the graphics are artfully done, with lots and lots of attention to detail and I like them very much!
So, do I like Ziggurat? You bet your mana-pool I do! It looks cool, sounds cool and plays absolutely awesome! And, best of all, Ziggurat is one of those games that seems to have been purposely built for one reason and one reason alone: to have fun! While other games might get tiring when you die a lot, Ziggurat always manages to pull you back in. It’s what I like to call: the one-more-time approach. Because the maps are always different, it’s not like you ever play the same game twice, which greatly enhances the game’s replay value. And the fact that you unlock new characters for you to play by collecting points doesn’t hurt either. So if you’re up for a cool FPS / Dungeon Crawling game with lots of awesome features, fast-paced, action-packed gameplay and tons of enemies, you should really give Ziggurat a try. No really, I mean it... go and try it... go and try it right NOW!