Main Menu


We've got a new forum. The old one will remain available as archive.

Zenith [2016 -- Infinigon]

Started by Starfox, Jun 16, 2023, 12:41 AM

Previous topic - Next topic


Originally published on November 10, 2019

Argus Windell is a mage from the Infinigon (an academy for mages). An arcanologyst to be precise (so the kind of mage that freeze people, shoot fireballs and so on... and also likes to tinker with ancient artifacts liable to trigger an apocalypse). The beginning of the game sees him embroiled into a war with the elves and an elven patrol just captured him to interrogate him about a temple and the means to open it. Fortunately for him, Argus is saved by a group of singing spiders devourers of living things (yeah, because who wouldn't want to be eaten by a spider that sings to you first with a nice contralto tone to soothe you?).

A few tumbles later, Argus meet his friends, Brekka (also current girlfriend) and Mordecai (technically his superior but who cares?). Together they will unleash on the world the terrible Scepter Of Judgement, a formidable artifact that can only be used by the Emperor to maximum effect. Who could have known the maximum effect would be an apocalypse?

After some war and devastation, the entity summoned by the Scepter, the "Unexpected" that took the place of the Emperor and started to happily destroy the world is finally fought back and sent dormant while Argus decides to retire from the Infinigon to a little village to live a peaceful life as a potionist. Unfortunately the past is never far behind and one day the Scepter shadow come back to haunt him. In the process of setting himself up for the adventures to come he will quickly discover that he is the god of a rat people that drank too many of the failed potions he threw in the sewers beneath his shop therefore gaining intelligence. He will also discover so many other dumb things.

Zenith is one of those unassuming little games that aims to be hilarious and doesn't really pretend to be anything else and least of all, serious. And hilarious it is, definitely. Humor is certainly what Zenith does best with a lot of cultural reference to other games and movies to put the icing on the cake. I had a lot of fun just reading the lines of the characters. To make the most of it, you have to attempt to talk to any person you pass by. Some will have basic stuff to say but others will trigger some very hilarious conversation. Zenith also makes fun - in a friendly way - of the RPG genre in general.

Reading, yes, because there's one thing that Zenith doesn't have, it's voice acting. So the player is going to do a lot of reading. Although the lack of voice acting can be expected from an indie game because of the lack of funds, in this particular case one can only find it regrettable. The absence of voice-over doesn't make the game any less considering it's an indie product but the presence of it would have make it that much better.

However, a possible voice-over would have been confronted to the biggest flaw of this game, the total lack of any feature to control the volume of music, effects and sounds. The end result is that the music is so loud compared to sounds effects that it manages to properly crush the game. And no, contrary to the opinions of one persistent fan of the game I've read online, not having volume control in a game in this day and age is not "cool" gamers are not "entitled whiners" for demanding that a basic feature makes it into a game and indeed, the lack of such a feature can indeed negatively impact a game. I remarked about such a lack on feature in the Final Fantasy series and I already was not okay with it back then. I'm still not, no matter the game. Zenith was developed with the Unity engine which comes with a full set of ways to control sounds in game (when the devs decide to implement the feature) so there's not even the excuse of the game engine not being able to.

On a pure game level Zenith is a rather simple hack and slash with an abilities tree thrown into the mix just it can pretend to be somewhat RPG-ish although the comparison stops there as there is no decision to be made in the course of the story which is pretty much "on rails" hence the opposite of what a RPG should be. There are some balancing issues with the combat system difficulty (only one available) that can be totally unfair to the player at times.

I struggled a long time between giving this game and average or a good rating. I finally decided for the good one because of the humor. There are not that many games offering that kind of humor. Sure a good many games have some humorous moments but the number of them with silly humor all the way is reduced. Zenith makes me think of Anachronox -- another old and pretty humorous and deserving game that I never properly reviewed but should review one of these days -- in this way.

I wouldn't mind seeing a Zenith 2, granted with volume controls this time and a combat a bit more interesting and, why not -- let us be crazy -- some voice over. With appropriate voices (and I had a bunch of actors in mind when playing) this game could have been a pearl.

Guess what it means!