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Ziggurat Review

At first glance Ziggurat looks like a fairly generic old school shooter with Harry Potter-esque weaponry. But with it's perma-death feature and randomly generated levels, does it do more for the genre than it first appears?


Developer: Milkstone Studios
Publisher: Milkstone Studios
Format: Xbox one
Release Date: March 20th, 2015
Copy provided by publisher
Right from the start the thing that needs mentioning is that this game features perma-death. Every time you start the game you have 1 life before you have to start from the beginning again. But death isn't so bad. When you die you unlock more perk cards, weapons and even characters with their own twist that become available within the game next time you brave it.

As for what you do within the game, it's very much like the shooters from times of old. Think Doom, or Wolfenstein and you aren't far off. More recently Painkiller offered a similar experience too. That's the ground work for the game. As for what makes it unique (aside from the perma-death) is the weaponry. Forget your pistols and your AKs, here you are armed with a magic wand to start with but you can find books that enable you to cast spells, magic staffs and a projectile weapon. Only the wand has recharging mana however and for the other 3 you will have to scavenge magic gems off of dead enemies to refill. Using the weapons is a very easy affair with the auto aim. You merely have to shoot somewhere around the enemy and you are bound to hit them. However this doesn't make the game a walk in the park. You will need to keep moving and jumping and be aware of your surroundings at all times to be able to succeed.

The enemies in the game a varied bunch, you have some gaming standards such as skeletons but there are some crazy ones in there also. Such as the carrot. Yes, a CARROT. These little critters are your typical carrot with legs and an urge to kill you. The variety is great in the stuff you are killing. Bosses are also very varied. No boss is the same fight as another and they all feel like you need to learn to do something new to tackle them. Ultimately, though, it does get old pretty quick and starts to feel repetitive.

Another thing that makes this game stand apart from the aforementioned games is the randomly generated levels. The game tasks you with finding the key and beating the boss on 5 different floors. The catch being that the floors are random every single time, so you can't just learn the path and do it. You must be able to adapt to the situation at hand and hunt down the key and the boss for the floor every time you play. Sometimes you can get lucky and find the boss without fighting so much as a single minion, other times you can be wondering around fighting rooms full of enemies until you find what you need.

Graphically the game is nothing special. It's far from the worst looking game but it's not the best either. It has a sort of cartoon look to it similar to that found in the Skylanders series. It all looks very much the same though. Even with the game being different every time the rooms still all look the same. Audio is very much the same, it serves its purpose and nothing else. You won't remember it tomorrow.

The biggest issue with the game is the length. You will be able to beat the 5 floors in the game in under an hour without much effort. There is reason to go back with the randomly generated rooms, new characters and unlocks, but after 4 or 5 playthroughs you will probably have had your fill of the game and for the asking price it's not really worth it.

Achievements are actually really good in this game. Mainly because they will give you the most reason to go back for more. There's a decent mix of challenging and easy ones. Clearing the first floor without taking damage, for example, will test your patience. Hard mode will also provide a challenge to those who want it. Overall, it shouldn't take you too long to max out the game but it promises to be an entertaining journey.

Overall Ziggurat is a fun game to play, but it won't keep you hooked for long. While the enemies and weapons are varied the random environments are not and will start to drag before long. For the asking price this game is not worth it. But if you can get it in a sale sometime it's definitely worth your attention.

+Varied weapons
+Short term gameplay
- Not enough to warrant the price tag
- Graphics and lack of variety in rooms
- Gets old pretty quickly

Score: 6.5/10 "Decent"

Gameplay from the first floor and part of the second on Normal difficulty

What I Played: Ventured into the Ziggurat multiple times on multiple difficulties with multiple characters. Spent around 6 hours with the game. Clearing it only once on easy.
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