Ziggurat Reviews

Titanium Dragon
Titanium Dragon
TSA Score for this game: 350
Posted on 15 July 17 at 13:36
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Ziggurat is a fantasy-themed FPS roguelike game. You play as an apprentice wizard sent into the titular Ziggurat as a test to prove your worth, killing waves of monsters in rooms and fighting your way through five levels (and five bosses) to complete the game.

While the idea of wielding magic instead of weapons seems really cool, if that’s why you came here, you’re apt to be disappointed; the weapons in this game are wands, staves, magic spell books, and alchemic devices, but a lot of them more or less function like various common weapons (shotguns and rifles, most notably). Your wand is your default, infinite ammo weapon which slowly recharges itself over time; it fires relatively quickly, or you can do an alternate shotgun blast fire which is a bit slower.

The other weapons are randomized and found in the first room of each level of the dungeon (and occaisionally elsewhere in a level as a treasure). There’s a fair number of weapons in the game, and you will only see half a dozen or so on any given playthrough. They are of pretty mixed quality; some weapons are clearly much better than others, but their presence or absence is totally random. Sometimes you’ll find a great weapon right off the bat; other times you’ll find a terrible one deep in the Ziggurat.

Each of the three categories of weapons – spellbooks, staves, and alchemic devices – have their own mana pool, which serves as ammunition. All weapons have two firing modes, a primary and a secondary, with the secondary typically being a more powerful but slower-firing version of the primary, generally simply launching 2-3 times as many projectiles, generally in a broader spread; some weapons subvert this, with the alternate fire being a faster fully automatic fire mode.

The player starts out with just two characters who have generally balanced stats unlocked, but as the game is played more the player unlocks additional characters. These characters have unbalanced stats, generally specializing in one particular weapon or another, sometimes starting out with equipment, sometimes having special perks that make them faster or fire faster with one weapon (and slower with others) or a limited health pool but more mana, ect. These don’t change things up too much, but they do make some difference, particularly in the early game, where your starting weapon apart from your wand is entirely dependent on what the Ziggurat throws at you.

The various weapons have various effects, but most of them are comparable to various standard weapons – grenades that blow up on impact, automatic weapons, shotguns, ect. There are some which have odder effects and feel more different from the standard fare – one weapon fired a bunch of bouncing projectiles along the floor, another one shot out enemy-seeking rings, and a third froze enemies it shot. While such weapons exist, they’re mixed in with a lot of weapons which feel very standard, and unfortunately some of these weird weapons are just not very good (the bouncing along the ground weapon, for instance, is terrible against flying foes, which make up a large portion of the endgame enemies).

As the player kills enemies, they drop experience crystals, mana, and healing potions, and the player must collect them before they disappear, preventing the player from simply standing back and mowing down enemies from a long range (though most weapons are ill-suited for such anyway). This encourages a more aggressive and constantly moving style of play.

As the player gains experience, they level up, gaining a marginal amount of hit points and mana to all their mana pools, restoring them all somewhat, and gaining the choice between one of two randomized level-up benefits. As the player plays more, they unlock more randomized benefits, and some things will give them access to additional choices at level up during a particular play-through. In addition, the player can also be powered up by a few random rooms, which contain additional free level-up cards or various treasures hidden behind platforming puzzles, none of which are particularly difficult to solve and which seem to repeat very frequently (I only saw two puzzles, but I saw both of them multiple times – twice in the same playthrough, in fact).

Sadly, while all of this sounds okay, that’s really all that can be said about the game – it is okay. The game is not really exceptional in any way – the platforming puzzles aren’t particularly interesting, and the fighting gets pretty samey. There’s not that much enemy variety in the game, and oddly, the game actually becomes easier after a certain point because you start gaining mana faster than you spend it, meaning that you stop running out of ammunition, at which point you can use your various mana-using weapons rather heavily and overcome every encounter with sheer brute force. Only the bosses present any real challenge, and even there, most of them can just be killed by kiting them while spamming attacks at them, especially once you get to the point where you aren’t going to run out of mana mid-fight. The enemies themselves don’t really feel hugely distinctive, and while they aren’t generic in the sense of “human soldier #786” or “standard zombie enemy”, none of them feel like they have any particularly interesting attack pattern and almost all of the enemies can just be killed by either strafing and shooting or kiting and shooting.

As such, it is hard for me to really recommend this. That’s not to say that it is bad, mind you. It is simply that I played it five times and beat it on the fifth time, and now I’m left wondering what else there is to do with the game, as it already felt kind of repetitive even going through the last few levels on the fifth time through. The game’s bestiary suggests I’ve fought everything but a couple of midbosses, and in the end, I have to say I was just never wowed by it.

If you liked Tower of Guns, this is more or less the same thing as that, so if you’re looking for more of the same, this isn’t a terrible choice. But if you’re looking for some sort of more sophisticated experience, this probably isn’t what you’re looking for – games like Risk of Rain are much more varied experiences than this is.
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