Zenonia a solid, yet unpolished RPG

Posted: May 25, 2009 in RPG

Before the hype machine kicked into full gear, Zenonia could’ve been a new kind of pasta for all I knew. After spending a few hours with the game to the dismay of certain people, I can safely say that while Zenonia is a solid RPG, just don’t expect anything groundbreaking nor innovative about it. While content and controls are important for any game, they are especially important for RPGs which live and die on storyline, depth, and replayability. For the most part, Zenonia passes on all levels, but there are definitely quirks in the game.

The game begins with an extensive and belabored telling of the story behind Zenonia, which goes on and on and on. You may want to watch this initially because it spans 15 years and includes some interesting animation sequences. The storyline centers on the conflict between the Dragon Clan and Holy Knights. After the Holy Knights victory, one of knights discovers a boy who was part of the Dragon Clan. Out of regret, he decides to raise the boy, which is why he also goes on to name the boy Regret. I’m sure he was teased in school. The game takes place fifteen years later when the Dragon Clan has re-established its forces and is now looking for Regret.

The game quality is definitely there when it comes to the cartoonish characters and the soundtrack. The graphics are nicely done with no framerate issues or lags. I will say that the cartoonish characters may be a turnoff for some since they look more like dwarves from pygmy island. Quality control, however, is a separate issue when it comes to the text used in the game. There are a few grammatical errors which are fine, but some of the prose can be unpolished especially in the storyline cut scenes and in interactions with other characters. In certain cases, it reads similar to a text message on a cell phone.

The d-pad controls in the lower left-hand corner of the game screen along with an action button on the lower right-hand corner work well once you’ve become acclimated to them. They can be somewhat clunky, and a more ideal control scheme would have been touch and drag. One shortcoming with the current controls is that the character cannot move diagonally, which is more a preference of mine rather than an actual issue with the game itself.

During the load times in between intros and levels, tips are provided, but honestly, they felt thrown together. Several times, I had helpful tips telling me to go to the dev Web site for more tips. The other problem is that the tips disappear quickly, and at first, I thought this was a test to show me how fast the game loads. For the most part, they were random and more or less useless because they appeared out of context.

Before starting the game, you must select the type of character Regret is to be: the warrior, the assassin, or the paladin. Each character class have their own type of weapons and equipment, varying degrees of good and evil, and custom storyline which all add significantly to Zenonia’s replayability. Based on the decisions you make in the game, you mold Regret into a either force for good or a force for evil, and thus creating different outcomes. Think Tamagotchi chick except more devastating for the world of Zenonia.

The game screen has a number of things that will be useful as you help Regret on his journey. A map is located in the upper left-hand corner that shows Regret’s location in relation to roads, people to interact with, and certain landmarks. Tapping on it will bring up a larger version. One of the most important sources of information is the knapsack icon in the upper right-hand corner, which to me is one of the more innovative parts of the game. This provides a wealth of information including quests in progress, item inventory list, accumulated gold, and your HP (health) and SP (special abilities). Note that in the item inventory list, you are limited to how many items you can carry due to weight, and the more you carry, the less speed you have. Of course, as you build up your strength, the amount of space in the inventory list will increase as well as allowing for more items to be acquired. Saving the game can also be accessed through the knapsack icon.

There are three bars that you need to pay attention to: HP, SP and Hunger (yes, Regret needs to eat, but not overly something to worry about). Hunger is addressed by going to certain locations (e.g. inns, pubs) as well as drops left from slaying enemies. This also applies to equipment, which wears out during the course of the game, and there are various item stores where you can buy and repair equipment.

The gameplay in Zenonia is pretty in-depth, and there’s a multitude of content and paths that can be chosen. Battle scenes, interactions with people, and entering various locations are all pretty straightforward and typical of your standard RPGs. The main and side quests are always the fun part of RPGs, and with Zenonia, you can accept up to 5 quests at a time, which are monitored in the quest log. This is accessible through the knapsack icon I mentioned, which keeps track of all the details. By completing these quests, you acquire experience and gold, which appear in a pop-up statistics window upon completion.

As you complete levels (Level Up), 1 skill point is earned, which can be applied towards Active and Passive abilities. Active abilities are new spells and attacks, while Passive abilities are physical characteristics. As you make travel through the quests, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to pick up items such as potions, rings, swords and clothing among other things. Skills as with RPGs are important, and Regret will acquire skills that further unlock further others.

Overall, Zenonia is a solid game for RPG fans, but don’t expect it to convert many non-RPG or casual gamers. Despite its minor flaws, Zenonia delivers significant hours of gameplay, and hopefully it has some lasting power before the next big game appears.

Albie Meter: 4 Stars (recommended for those looking for a solid RPG or have a serious addiction to anime)

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