On the surface, Zenith is a game I should like. I enjoy action-RPGs, and this game eschews the often serious nature of the genre and attempts to tell a story with heart and humor. So where is the misstep? The humor is, well for me, not good. As a result, the heart the story is going for never materializes. This means Zenith has to fall back on gameplay to save the title, but with so many good entries in the genre, the gameplay just does not hold up. What does this mean for the game? At the core, you can see what development studio Infinigon was trying to do, and I genuinely am interested in what it was attempting. Unfortunately, the game never lives up to the nuggets of potential strewn throughout the game.
I was concerned almost immediately when I started Zenith. The next screenshot is, if I recall, the second dialogue box from the game..
I actually sat at this screen for awhile I deliberated about how to proceed. I really did not think this game was going to be for me, so I wondered if someone else might be a better option. After a bit of self-reflection and consideration, I decided I could do this, but settled on moving forward at a leisurely pace to play through as much of the game as I could. I have been working on this review for sometime, but the longer I played the game, the more I struggled in bringing myself back to it. Eventually I reached the point I am today, where I needed to finish the review so I played as much as I could, but I am not sure I found a way to play the game I really enjoyed. If you are wondering, no, I did not finish the game. If that invalidates this review, I understand, but I do not know what Zenith could have done to change my mind.
The game has you taking control of Argus, a smack-talking wizard who is on a quest to save the world. Argus wields a weapon and magic which he uses to destroy the gobs of enemies that attack him. The combat is pretty straightforward hack and slash with the occasional magic spell to obliterate your enemies. I found the combat to be either incredibly easy or insanely difficult. Depending on the enemies you would run into, the timing of their attacks would seem to lineup up perfectly so you could roll away and then punish all of them, or the attacks would be lined up so sequentially there was virtually no way to attack other than to run away and hope only one or two enemies followed you. Combine this with the unusual mechanic that you can only use a healing potion once every minute or so (I think this is how it worked, I was never totally certain) I would find myself breezing through combat for maybe an hour, and suddenly hit a room in a dungeon that seemed extremely difficult, even though these were enemies I had easily dispatched before.
Zenith has a lot of the things you would expect of an action-RPG. An overworld to travel great distances, towns with folks to talk to and purchase good from, dungeons full of monsters and loads of loot. The unfortunate thing is it does not do any aspect as well as or better than most other games in the genre. The loot seems generic and though they try to give it flavor, most of the pieces look the same with just a palette swap. The overworld has monsters to avoid, but it is easy to lose your way if you do not remember exactly where you were supposed to go, or worse, took some days off between playing and have no clue as to what you were supposed to do next. The towns are usually pretty small and the loading screen in and out of them is often longer than the time you will spend in them. Finally, the dungeons are loaded with monsters to destroy, but I typically wanted to just get through them rather than search every corner for more awesome loot.
One of the more interesting aspects of Zenith is the music…and I still cannot decide if it is the best part of the worst part. Parts of the score were quite good while other parts had me turning the volume down on my television. The oddest part of it though, was the mixing. At certain times the music was extremely quiet, and then abruptly it would change to be insanely loud. While I am all for dynamic changes in music, this seemed to be on a track by track basis. So track X equaled loud and track Y equaled soft, but the music itself did not crescendo, etc. This could be my perception, but as someone who really focuses on music and sound in games, it was a bit perplexing.
From a technical point there were issues with Zenith as well. Screen tearing and framerate drops were common. The load times are quite lengthy and it was not uncommon to leave a building (load screen) now be in a town and take 5 steps to leave it (load screen) be in the overworld and run to the next town (load screen) and take 10 step to enter a tavern (load screen). In that 30 seconds of gameplay you might have 2 – 3 minutes of loading. I get it, games need to load, but if I know I have 30 minutes to sit down and play a game, do I want to play one that, depending on what I might have to do (or worse yet, if I die) I might be staring at a load screen for a third of the time? If the action I was about to partake in felt more worthwhile or was more fun, I may forgive the loads more, but anytime the game was loading I just started to think of other things I could be playing.
It is important to note that there are good things in Zenith. The world they are trying to build, while not overly unique, is interesting. The basic outline of the story has potential, but the dialogue holds it back. I also appreciate the attempt at humor. It felt uneven, forced, and genuinely not funny to me, but so many games are serious and dower these days, I appreciate the attempt to bring levity. If the game had been voice-acted, I do think there is a higher likelihood the humor and charisma the game is going for would have come through.
Overall, Zenith is not a game I can recommend. If your sense of humor fits with what is trying to be delivered, I could see this game being worth a play. For most people, however, I think your time would be better spent checking out other games. With that being said, I am interested in what Infinigon may do next, as I appreciate the attempt at humor, but am hoping they can refine what they have done in Zenith and turn it into a more refined and polished experience.
Zenith was reviewed using a PS4 code provided by the publisher. You can read additional information about PSVG’s review policy on our disclaimer page here.