Thank you to BLG Publishing for providing a review code
Honestly, there’s a lot to unravel in Zenith’s plot. You play as Argus Windell a wizard that has an “I’m getting too old for this sh*t” attitude. He has had a successful past in a great war but now wants to just lay low and be free from all responsibility. Unfortunately for him, a great adventure stumbles upon him and he must once again finagle his way across the land in order to restore peace. Plenty of characters, parodies, races, and plot exposition are crammed into this indie title.
An action-adventure RPG that crosses gameplay of Dragon Age with a Diablo-like point-of-view would be my best description of what Zenith is. Well, it would be wrong of me to not let you know that reading text dialogue and walking around will be done far more than playing or experiencing action. Everything about the gameplay is poorly done. The controls and fighting are clunky and inaccurate. It appeared so promising before taking this assignment and turned out to be beyond disappointing. There’s no way to lock onto any targets, groups of enemies will swarm you then kill you instantly, the checkpoints are laid out poorly checkpoint and your companions are useless. These are just a few of the serious issues with the gameplay alone.
I do not take pleasure in doing this, but holy cannoli Zenith looks and sounds terrible. The graphics are so unpolished and look as if they were just scrambled together. The landscapes and details of the game are just inexcusable. Sometimes Argus will walk up invisible hills or into the ground. Most of the dialogue is in perfectly legible text at the bottom of the screen, but other times character’s words are in random areas of the screen in colored text. At times it is so hard to read, you do not know who is even speaking and it just looks like it was quickly done or added with Microsoft Paint.
Even worse than the visuals is the audio if you could imagine. Some of the background music is so out of place it took me completely out of the game. The spiders make this high pitch singing noise that is completely bizarre. At one point in one of the enemy bases, a pig literally walked from outside the walls next to me and was nonstop oinking and squealing throughout the entire area no matter how far I advanced in the level. Needless, to say I played most of the game with my Switch muted because of how offensive the audio was to my ears. I turned the sound back on in new areas just to hear what it was like but ultimately always put it back on mute.
There’s an abundance of issues in Zenith aside from the previously mentioned poor graphics and obnoxious music/sound effects!
Frame Rate– I really ever notice or care much about such an aspect of a game, but in this game, there is almost always a constant choppy frame rate while just moving Argus anywhere.
Gameplay Flow– Zenith has way too much dialogue for its own good. Anytime you get a feel for the bad gameplay, it comes to a screeching halt. For an action-adventure game, there’s not much action compared to the amount of travel here, talk to this person, read this conversation, travel back there, talk to that person, read that conversation, and so on. Zenith may have been better off doing away with all the gameplay and adding voice acting to make it an animated movie.
Potion Timer– When you need health potions the most you need a bunch of them at once. Of course, there is a timer in between using potions and it last entirely too long! Many deaths will occur when you are in desperate need of using another potion so hopefully, you hit a good save point because otherwise, you will have a lot to replay.
World Map/No Direction or Labels– While traversing the World map there are monsters roaming around that will chase you. If they get close enough to you then you get sucked into a battle. I tried to avoid every single monster as much as possible. When I could not avoid these encounters I immediately fled them without fighting because I just want to get to point A to point B as fast as possible. Even without all the encounters there’s never a pointer or guide as to where you are supposed to go to. Sometimes the mission will tell you what general direction the destination is. but that’s all. You may end up walking all over the map aimlessly or visit several wrong locations because none of them are labeled or titled before you enter them.
Poor Attempt at Humor/Low Brow Comedy- This will be the most debatable area I criticize, but I did not find the game funny what so ever. I love comedy but the kind the creators went for, not so much. The use of cursing all the time was pointless to me. They force cursing into everything just because they can, but it does not add anything to what is being said or the experience. The game is self-aware and references other popular game series, but it is not done enough or that well in my opinion. I imagine this area of the game is most appealing to an audience who enjoys crude humor, but even then it doesn’t come across as well thought about.
Loading Screens– Zenith is plagued with loading screens. The length of the loading screens is not the issue just the sheer amount of times and frequency the game forces the player to look at it is mind-boggling and unacceptable
Ultimately, Zenith is one of the most disappointing games I have ever played. I had high hopes for this one. The amount of issues this game has is mind-blowing, especially with how promising it looks and sounds on Nintendo’s website. Despite this game being released originally in 2016 it looks and plays like it belongs on the PS1. The creators put a lot of love and detail into the plot, but far too little attention to any other area of the game. At the moment of writing this review, it is on sale on Steam for only $3.74 so if for some reason you really feel compelled to get this then do yourself the favor of getting it as cheap as possible.