- Pretty art style
- Well designed enemies
- Great levelling up system
- Technical hitches make the game nearly unplayable due to nausea
- Not all weapons feel unique
- Gets extremely repetitive really quickly
- Poorly Optimized
Review Code kindly supplied by Milkstone Studios.
Version Tested: PS4
Ziggurat is a first person shooter dungeon crawl from the minds of the folks over at Milkstone Studios, Is it worth diving into the fabled Ziggurat or should you just keep walking?
Ziggurat see’s you a sorcerer entering the titular dungeon to prove your worth as Daedolon Brother, that’s pretty much the story of the game and for this kind of game that is actually quite a decent amount of lore. It is all explained in the rather good looking introduction with hand drawn artwork.
The first thing you will notice upon starting the game is that it suffers from some seriously terrible design decisions, I had to instantly dive into the options and turn off head bobbing and camera shake when running. The game is a stomach churner when these features are turned on and worse yet, once you turn them off it doesn’t do much to alleviate the problem.
Ziggurat struggles with some pretty bad optimization. The game graphically is pretty and charming to look at but the speed of which your character moves coupled with the games difficulty to keep a constant frame rate can allow for some serious bouts of nausea whenever you turn a corner or get into a fight. This issue got so bad that I had to actually turn the game off and go and take a break, something I have never had to do while gaming for as long as I have been. The game definitely has issues outside of the nausea inducing hitches, as when enemies charge you as they tend to do toward the end of the game the frame rate takes a huge dive, going below even 30fps.
Once you get passed the extreme technical issues, Ziggurat is a competent first person shooter with some unique and interesting ideas, however none of them particularly come together very well. You start the game with a wand and as you progress through the games procedurally generate levels you unlock new weapons to use against the games many well designed enemies. The weapons add a nice change of pace from the pea-shooter wand and each weapon comes complete with an alternate fire mode. The problem is that sometimes the alternate fire mode doesn’t appear to do anything different or is actually a completely useless mode.
The game also rewards those who explore as levels hide perks, loot and more interestingly the elder god statues. These statues again are interesting ideas but in practice do not come to fruition, you approach three statues. One will give you something random for no cost, another will give you something random for health and another for magic. The issue is that you can’t check what the statues are going to offer you. Once you approach the transaction is done and you have your reward, this often left me avoiding the statues because they didn’t always make for good investments and once you had an ability that was it, you were stuck with it.
Rounding out the mechanics is the levelling up system. It works in a traditional way, kill enemies to level up your characters, however the actual reward system for levelling up is very unique, rather than give you something set like a health boost for level 3 and a magic boost for level 4 it instead offers two choices initially, you select the reward you want.
This definitely is a well thought out feature as you progress you can unlock more choices which allow for you to tailor your upgrades around what is useful to you. This makes levelling up actually one of the more entertaining aspects of the game.
Ziggurat is an interesting title, that is almost certainly true, it has got plenty going for it with its art style, entertaining progression and some competent shooting but is let down by some poor optimization, tiresome gameplay and ideas that never really come together.