Ziggurat

Welcome to the land of Hexen stranger! Choose your path and fight your way through masses of monsters until you defeat…No, wait. This is not about GT Interactive and the mid 90s!
This is about Ziggurat, a first person dungeon crawler with a roguelike attitude. So what about Hexen then? Plese read further.

Welcome to Ziggurat, a place where every apprentice wants to be.
Welcome to Ziggurat, the place that no apprentice returns from.

You are one of them, Argo, a talented magician that wants to enter the high circle of daedalon. But only those strong and brave enough to survive the dangers that lurk through the corridors, eagerly waiting for your soul to consume shall be granted with high power and wisdom. And their life, of course.

Let’s cut to the chase. The reason why I chose to compare Hexen with Ziggurat is simple. At least if you have played as a mage back then. It is the same great feeling, fighting against monsters in first person, looking for artifacts and eagerly hoping for potions – but without the old doom engine. Visuals are dark, hazy and serve just great. Again, a mixture of Hexen but also Torchlight comes into my mind. Shining spells, flaming lava or creepy goblins may not look like Skyrim’s realism but they don’t have to make yourself comfortable. Typical cave and dungeon sounds and a pumping soundtrack complete the picture of what Ziggurat tries to be: a mixture of dungeon crawling and First Person Shooter that demands quick focusing, running, dodging and even more running. People complaining about the difficulty do not overreact at all. My first walkthrough ended up in the second room of the first floor since I did not know anything about the enemies behaviour, poisonous clouds and the right time to aim and dodge. The game is a roguelike that punishes every mistake but offers millions of endorphins after a hard passage got solved so prepare yourself with tea and patience.

What is the gameplay like? You start with a wand that has an infinite mana-pool. This does not mean you can hold for autofire since it still consumes mana and replenishes over time. While struggling through the dungeon you might find other weapons that use different types of mana, named Spells, Sticks and Alchemy. These are more powerful than your starting wand but not infinite so mana should be saved for critical situations. Progress in Ziggurat is made with opening doors. Every room you enter must be solved before you can move on. Prepare to meet monsters, traps and secret passages. The Good: Rooms can also contain shrines, where one might pray for godly help. The Bad: Even the Gods send plagues sometimes. Every dungeon looks unique since it is randomly generated so do not even think about planning for your next run when your health is low. Every stage holds a key and a boss. Find the portalstone, get into the boss room, hopefully defeat the boss and move to the next stage.

Progress. Killed Monsters drop mana crystals, health potions or experience, some champions or bosses might even drop special items like powerful charms. After having gained a certain amount of EXP you can level up. Doing so, you can choose between random perks or replenishments, like thicker skin, more health or faster movement. If you die, and you will die a lot, all of your progress will be summarised. This will not only place you in a leaderboard but also unlock new perks and artifacts that can be found in your next walkthroughs permanently. Additionally, killing monsters and doing damage unlocks monster information and more playable characters with new strengths and weak points, offering a wide array of playstyles, thus offering motivation for hours and hours.

Big Text, Quick Facts:

Pro:

  • Perfect mixture of different genres – spellcasting FPS meets roguelike dungeon crawler
  • Randomized dungeons and items = infinite playthroughs
  • Visuals are up to date with nice animations, rooms and monster design
  • Unlockable characters, perks and monster infos
  • Thrilling but rewarding gameplay – dodge, run, aim, shoot, run
  • 15 € is more than just a fair price for this gem

Con:

  • Background story sounds generic – but serves well
  • Prepare to get frustrated – even on normal difficulty. Some rooms and / or mobs tend to act unfair, at least sometimes
  • Ziggurat is Ziggurat – meaning dungeon, dungeon, dungeon

Summary:

Oh, what did I expect? A game that could hold up to my childhood memories. What did I get? A game that even surpasses my expectations. Ziggurat catched my whole love and attention, right from the start. Exploring, fast-paced spellcasting combat and dozens of perks and characters to unlock in a randomly generated dungeon sum up into a challenging magic roguelike.

Dying multiple times doesn’t scare you? Coincidence is your second name and running in circles to get the final shot sounds like a challenge, not a punishment? The Ziggurat awaits you.
Verdict: 9/10