Review: Ziggurat (PS4)

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Title: Ziggurat
Format: PlayStation Network Download (993 MB)
Release Date: April 21, 2015
Publisher: Milkstone Studios SL
Developer: Milkstone Studios
Original MSRP: $14.99
ESRB Rating: E10+
Ziggurat is also available on Xbox One and PC.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was purchased by the reviewer.
PS Nation Review Policy

During the glorious advent of the first-person shooter, a sleeper in the genre was released on PC’s. It launched the same year as Doom 2 and was somewhat of a sister title to its sci-fi predecessor. I’m talking of course about Heretic. Heretic took everything that we loved about the Doom series and added a fantasy setting. Replacing the pistol was a crossbow and magic spells took the place of shotguns and rocket launchers.

I bring up Heretic because the moment I booted up Ziggurat, I immediately thought of that fun little FPS from the 90’s. Ziggurat is a fast-paced first-person shooter with Rogue-lite role-playing elements. As a neophyte sorcerer you are tasked with a right of passage romp through an ever-changing labyrinth. So yeah, what Ziggurat lacks in story development it makes up for with fast-paced action and lite exploration.

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Gameplay:
It’s an FPS taken from the era where run-and-gun was all you needed to survive (come to think of it, that hasn’t changed much). As a sorcerer equipped with a wand you move from chamber to chamber and clear out the enemies in the room before moving onto the next chamber. Throughout your dungeon-romp you will find new weapons scattered throughout the battlefield. All weapons, save for the initial magic wand, have finite magical energy relating to a specific mana pool. Collecting crystals from dead enemies refills those energy meters, allowing you to take on stronger enemies with the appropriate weapons.

As mentioned before, apart from keeping your weapons full Ziggurat introduces a Rogue-lite element to its FPS frenzy. In addition to picking up weapons and ammo you also collect experience shards that level up your character. Leveling your wizard provides you with a choice of perks that help you on your journey to greatness.

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For example, you might choose between more overall hit-points or the ability to heal every time you destroy something in the environment (barrels and books). These upgrades are also found around the dungeon, some in hidden rooms.

… standing still gets you killed fast …
Throughout the labyrinth you’ll also find treasure rooms and sacrifice chambers where you give a bit of life or mana as a trade for a perk (or information leading to hidden areas).

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This RPG-lite element gives Ziggurat an added depth that makes some of the fast-paced action worth replaying. After certain conditions are met, additional characters are unlocked as well, giving you even more reason to return to the dungeon.

The action is pretty frantic and standing still gets you killed fast. Again, this truly does bring back memories of Heretic and Hexen, where fast strafing and shooting yielded results.

… action keeps you on your toes …
Visuals:
Ziggurat doesn’t try to convey a hyper realistic version of its fantasy world but what is there is pleasing to the eyes. It’s more akin to a World of Warcraft style with some great use of lighting and interesting enemies. And did I mention that evil carrots are among the enemy roster? Each weapon is represented differently, from fireballs to icy crossbows.

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I did notice occasional frame jitters during some of the more intense battles but those moments weren’t frequent enough to hinder gameplay.

Audio:
While Ziggurat doesn’t introduce anything new into the field of sound. What is there works, and it compliments the furious on-screen action. Enemies laugh maniacally as they attack and screech when they die and those nasty carrots giggle as they dash your way. Your weapon discharge is accompanied by some appropriate sound effects that help sell the power behind some of your magical arsenal.

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Online/Multiplayer:
This is a single player game only with no online component.

Conclusion:
It’s great to lose yourself in a little game like this from time to time. The action keeps you on your toes while the random dungeons and lite RPG elements keep you coming back for more. In an era diluted with space marines and zombie hunting military shooters, it’s nice to see a little fantasy twist make its way into the mix. Ziggurat might not be for everyone but if the above matches your interest, it may be worth a gander.

Score:
7.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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