Zenith is an action RPG bursting with pop culture references and witty yet silly humour. Throughout your journey you will meet many characters that share some similarities with those from famous games, movies and TV, like Claude who is clearly a Doppelganger of Cloud from Final Fantasy. You will also encounter many situations and enemies that reference other media. One such situation takes the form of coming across a glowing door imprinted on a mountainside wall, which has the shame shape to that of the gate of Moria within the Lord Of The Rings, which can also only be opened by speaking a certain word, in Zenith’s case the word being ‘Watermelon’.
You take on the role of Argus Windell a skilled and quick-witted mage, your story begins being pursued by the Elf Captain and his band of men. You let slip of your one true goal, to build an ice palace in the mountains to live free from the intolerant and cruel society, to remain in isolation, sounds a lot like a very popular Disney film, this however isn’t his real goal, you’ll get used to Argus’ sense of humour and sarcasm. The actual true goal would be to reach your camp in order to obtain a sacred book which would in turn assist you in entering the Temple of Tempers. The starting chapter is more of a prologue which sets up the rest of the story, after entering the temple and obtaining the artifact kept within, an apocalypse will be released which is the focus for the entire game.
To many gamer’s dismay there is no voice acting, instead your having to read the text that pops up along with the speaking characters name and avatar. Personally I found myself literally laughing out loud at a lot of the jokes and references made, really felt it was a nice touch that assisted in pushing the game’s staying power for me. I always wanted to know what was going to be next, what else could be referenced, what absurdness will the characters come up with next and in that respect I was not disappointed.
Combat is what makes a great ARPG, if the combat isn’t truly intuitive and fun then you will have a hard time enjoying the game as a whole. Unfortunately both movement and combat suffer from clunkiness, which makes it a chore to keep playing especially when trying to navigate through treacherous traps or overcome deadly boss battles. This led to me dying all to frequently at these points in the game to the point I had to trick my way through the traps and keep grinding the fight sequences against the bosses. You have X to smash, O to dodge, Square and Triangle for magic attacks, you are forced to really think about what to use and when, become accustomed to varying monsters along with their attack styles and element strengths and weaknesses.
Graphically, Zenith certainly isn’t the most pleasing experience, in this area it’s average in relation to other games at the time, it looks like it could be have been out a few years ago. There a few shining lights in the visuals such as the character design’s, magic effects and lighting. This does make up slightly for the lack of texture detail. In terms of sound design, the soundtrack itself it very fantasy orientated, there’s a charm to it in each track and really does help set the tone of the level being explored. That would be all the good I can say about the music pieces as they do get repetitive quickly due to the seemingly short length of each piece, you can tell when the tune loops.
By no means a bad game, but certainly not a good one either, Zenith is a fun experience for someone looking to have a laugh and take part in a silly adventure, that doesn’t focus so much on visual fidelity and smooth gameplay. If you are looking for something graphically awe-inspiring with a clean combat experience, then I would certainly pass on this. Humour and charm are unfortunately not enough to make this a memorable experience, suffering from lengthy loading times, a repetitive soundtrack and clunky gameplay.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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