Back in the day, ID Software came out with a game called Heretic. It was a 3-D fantasy shooter and developers Raven Software used a modified version of the excellent Doom engine to create a fast-paced, fun shooter that featured wands and spells instead of guns. If you’ve played Heretic, Ziggurat will immediately take you back to that time. Even though the experience might not last very long, it’s a fun ride. There are a few missteps along the way, but Ziggurat will keep you entertained enough till the credits roll.
Nobody said being a neophyte wizard was going to be easy. But they probably didn’t mention that you’d have to make your way through the Ziggurat, a multi-leveled labyrinth full of a wide variety of monstrosities. The levels are generated procedurally, guaranteeing some variety when you replay the game. Each level features a series of linked rooms, and once the enemies for a particular room have spawned, the doors slam shut until you clear the room of said enemies. You’ll do battle with several fantasy genre regulars – skeletons, goblins, necromancers etc. you’ll also have to face some demonic carrots and mushrooms.
In some rooms, there’s a trap or a modifier which changes the way you approach combat for that particular group of enemies. For example, certain modifiers could change the size of your enemies and increase the damage you take and dish out. In other levels, the graphics could change to resemble the blocky 3-D models that were the norm in the 90s.
In your journey through the ziggurat, you start off with a basic wand. As the game progresses, you will gain more powerful weapons and spells, such as staffs which shoot poison or freeze your enemies into blocks of ice. You will find spells and weapons at different places in the ziggurat, waiting for you to pick them up out of the air or from the chests they’re stored in. Each of them is also capable of firing off an alternate attack which changes the damage or attack type, and usually costs more mana to employ. There are several interesting weapons you’ll find along the way, such as the magma rifle which fires explosive bolts at enemies from afar. The scarab beetle staff is another fun weapon to play with. It fires bugs which ricochet off the geometry in the level. In close quarters, the beetle staff shreds hordes of enemies.
The farther you get into Ziggurat, the more likely it becomes that you will make it through to the end. At several points in the game, you can activate different perks by using knowledge gems which drop when you slay certain enemies. These perks are also found in several hidden areas of the levels, and you can notice them if you look for suspicious cracks in the way. Choosing the right perk goes a long way towards ensuring the efficacy of your battle strategy. Some perks, like ones that replenish your health, might seem like an obvious choice, but in the long-term, they could work against you if you pass over damage-increase perks for them. Certain perks also allow you to get additional perks in subsequent levels. You can also gamble at shrines of different deities you’ll find during your travels. Here, by sacrificing certain portions of your health and mana, you roll the dice on receiving a random buff or debuff. If you’re unlucky, you could end up with a penalty, and you’ll have to hope you receive an Oracle perk soon, because it removes all negative effects.
Itself is fast-paced, and movement is reminiscent of the shooters of yore. You can jump from great heights and strafe without any apparent slowdowns. Even water can’t slow your progress, the great wizard that you are. Some of the challenge rooms will test your movement skills by confronting you with flying darts as you make your way over small platforms. A single misstep could send you plummeting into the lava pools below. These sections are a lot of fun since they test your hand-eye coordination and reflexes. You’ll often be running backwards, trying to fend off an angry mob while you try to thin their numbers with the frantic use of your spells and weapons. The pace of the combat keeps you entertained, even when you’ve played the campaign all the way through a couple of times.
Ziggurat looks great for the most part. The graphical style of the game can be described as Torchlight-meets-Heretic. Occasionally however, frame rate drops and graphical glitches mar your experience. Overall, the lighting and shadows make all of the levels look very pretty. When the graphical issues aren’t eating up your field-of-view, Ziggurat is great to look at. The boss fights aren’t too much of a challenge – most of them are just oversized versions of enemies you’ve faced before. Despite these shortcomings, Ziggurat will keep you entertained. If you’re good at shooters, you’ll probably finish the campaign in about an hour. But the game gives you plenty of reasons to come back to it. You have 11 different characters to unlock, each of whom have their own unique play style. If you feel the wizard in you begging for a chance to be unleashed, give Ziggurat a try.
Ziggurat Game Review Score: 6.8 Out of 10