Published on January 27th, 2013 | by Kieran Mackintosh0
Review: ZENONIA 5
Game: ZENONIA 5
Platform: Android 4.1.1 Jellybean
Price: $0.00 (micro-transaction system within the game)
Tool of Destruction: Samsung Galaxy Tab 2.7.0
Developed and published by GAMEVIL Inc., ZENONIA 5 is the latest title in the ZENONIA series and was launched not too long ago on Jan 10th for Android and iOS devices. ZENONIA 5 sits itself firmly on the pedestal of Action Role-playing Game (ARPG), which as a whole I believe to be inspired by the early Final Fantasy games (before the seventh one). Regardless the smoosh-genre being coined by GAMEVIL themselves, the reason I would call ZENONIA 5 an “Action/RPG” would be because it is an RPG game at its core with Action elements: RPG because levelling, crafting, quests, items/equipment, skills are features akin to a typical RPG, amongst other things; and Action because there is a lot of spectacle involved, primarly in the game’s combat. Unfortunately, the game requires an always-on internet connection in order to play it (this is so the player can access the game’s online features). ZENONIA 5, despite its young age, has proved itself to me as a very solid RPG mobile title, with a couple of things I believe could do with tightening up a bit (more on that later).
The Story (So Far)
ZENONIA 5‘s story stays the same for the four character classes you can choose from. Each class has their own name (which remains consistent throughout the game) and everyone in the main storyline refers to you as such:
- Abel, the stern-looking Berserker;
- Evan, the white-haired Mechanic with a giant cannon strapped to his back;
- Neal, the glove-wearing Wizard that has one eye too far off to one side of his face and uses a tome that’s as big as his body;
- Ryan, the blonde Paladin with a coma-inducing mace and a bludgeoning shield
The names and short character descriptions represent your potential choice for a character. For the review, I’ve decided to play as the Mechanic.
The story is simple: It’s basically your job to uncover a sinister plot relating to a dictating king who’s wrongly accused your mother of killing the original king (whose throne the dictator took over) whilst a villain plots the revenge of his people. Also, you’re trying to stop the noble class citizens from exploiting the middle classes (or something along those lines).
Your journey starts off in a small mining town, and your character suffers a myriad of bad dreams — dreams of ill omen. It later becomes apparent that these dreams are pseudo-premonitions conjured up by doubt and paranoia. Long story short, you have to go find the dictator-king and see if he’s up to no good with some (not-so) friendly neighborhood demons.
The mechanics of the game are quite simple to grasp. Everything you need is right there on the screen — you don’t need to worry about using outside commands such as the Android taskbar. (Incidentally, the Android “Back” button can be used normally).
Using the left control is the Moving Control — which moves your character around, and does so with a near-accurate tactile result. This control also has a dash function, which is more useful than it sounds — especially if you’re having second thoughts on fighting that tough enemy three levels above you.
The control on the right is your Interaction Control. You use it for fighting, talking to NPCs, and picking up items. Surrounding the control is two sets of four quick-slots, but only one set can be shown at once — you have to swipe the current set in order to access the second, and vice-versa. The quick-slots are used to equip abilities and/or items so you don’t have to keep going through the game’s Menu to use what you want, which is particularly useful.
The top-side of the screen is used for the World Map, the Stats Bar (which displays healther, special power, etc.), and the Save and Pause commands. The World Map functions like a regular map for the most part (tapping it expands it to bring up an expanded version), and enemies, NPCs, shops, quest markers etc. are all identified on it.
Below the Map are the Save and Pause commands. The Save command is self-explanatory. The Pause command brings up the game’s Menu, where you can access your character’s stats, skills and abilities, items and equipment, and where you can access the game’s online features and micro-transaction shop.
Lastly, the characters Stats Bar. This Bar is mostly static and serves as player-feedback. But once your character levels two small icons will appear below it, which act as shortcuts to bring you to the different tabs in the Menu where you can level up certain things of your character.
As established earlier, there are four different classes to choose from, all divided into two separate play-styles: Melee and Ranged combat. Since I chose the Mechanic, I was technically supposed to fight from range but I kept on fighting up close and personal (In hindsight I would’ve felt better off using a melee class). The other class that falls in with Mechanic for ranged combat is the Wizard. The Berserker and Paladin classes are both close-combat. Having tested out each class in combat I can describe how I fared with them.
The Berserker is a heavy hitter and his attacks are quite slow, but he can seriously pack a punch. Moving around with this class whilst fighting was a bit sluggish for me, but a wide degree of attack meant I was able to strike many enemies in one swing — I didn’t have to worry about maneuvering that much.
The Mechanic deals out quick shots that keep his enemies at a distance, and repeating fire can keep close enemies away whilst he withdraws to attack from range again. His attacks are more focused than the Berserker‘s so moving him around to make sure that each shot lands home be a bit tedious sometimes, making his maneuverability more sluggish than the Berserker‘s.
The Wizard is also ranged but doesn’t suffer a narrow degree of attack like the Mechanic — quite the opposite. His attacks are wide and deal a fair bit of damage, too. Moving him around is quite responsive when in combat, but having said that lining up shots can still be a fiddly business.
Lastly, the Paladin is a fast puncher — quick with damage and quick with moving too. In combat, he hammers into the enemy with quick-fire attacks. Because of how fast he moved when in combat I didn’t find fault with moving him around to take a swing at the next demon. His arc of attack isn’t wide like the Wizard‘s, nor are they as powerful as the Beserker‘s, but it was really his fast attacks that got me satisfyingly all up in the faces of enemies. I wish I had chosen the Paladin as my main character.
The visuals as a whole are what sells ZENONIA 5 most to me. The palette of colours featured in this game are aesthetically refreshing to look at — from detailed tones and shades of the environments and enemies to the pleasantly cel-shaded characters — the whole look of the game is rich in the amount of colours it shamelessly shows.
Instead of typical warm colours (e.g. brown/black) used to describe shadow and shade where not applicable there are cold colours (e.g. purple/blue) at work to describe the depth and form of the world and characters in ZENONIA 5. That doesn’t mean to say that warm colours aren’t being used altogether (that would be silly), but cold colours are used instead to convey the same effect.
Overall, the music and sounds are good to listen to. However, I feel a little more could have been done to improve them. The backing tracks for environments are diverse, and are quite suitable for the locations they are set in.
The sound effects used for combat and interaction are also quite diverse, and some combat sounds are particularly satisfying to listen to. The cute “dings” of navigating through the Menu, picking up dropped loot, interacting with NPCs etc. are the sort of audio feedback I would expect from any game in general. The sounds that your character makes when in combat are sometimes a joy to listen to in the heat of combat. Some sounds in particular, such as the clanks of the Mechanic‘s cannon, the swings of the Berserker‘s sword, the smacks of the Paladin‘s mace, have that certain oomph that’s quite satisfying.
Although ZENONIA 5 has good backing tracks for different environments and punchy sound effects for the characters when in combat, I feel that the inclusion of more sound effects and backing tracks would heighten the experience for players. In the preludes to the two boss fights I fought in, I was anticipating some boss-fight music to initiate immediately after the pre-boss introduction. Nope. I was disappointed each time. The inclusion of boss-fight music in these types of games is a feature that is not sorely missed until it’s not there anymore.
Another useful inclusion of background tracks would be to provoke an emotion from the player. When playing ZENONIA 5, I encountered some situations that would’ve gained benefit from a different tone of music, instead of the environmental tracks that loop in the background. I found it difficult to take a situation seriously without the inclusion of music that reflected what the situation was trying to convey. The looping background track sounds out of place in scenes that have gravitas or some sort of intended impact.
ZENONIA 5‘s online features are limited, but what it has to offer is enough to keep players entertained. There are two online modes that are currently playable at the time of writing: PvP and Abyss. A third mode, Raid, will be accessible sometime soon.
PvP speaks for itself: two players fight one-on-one. You’re matched up with someone closest to your character’s level — the winner walks away with some epic loot. The loser leaves with either nothing or with a pity gift. Alternatively, you can partake in daily events against opposing AI of varying levels. Your gift is randomly selected for you after each match. However, in order to have a significantly better chance at winning anything you must first buy extra bag space for your inventory.
The other mode, Abyss, is a sort of time-attack mode against enemies of increasing difficulty. You have the chance of winning high-tier items should you do well and surive the different stages it offers you. Unfortunately, you can only enter this mode once a day for free. If you want to keep on going you’ll need to purchase an Abyss Entry Ticket from the in-game store.
Both these modes come with their own leaderboard, so you can check out how well/poorly you’ve done against other players.
As for Raid, all I’m able to say about it is that, according to its “coming soon!” pop-up, players and their allies will be able to pit themselves against monsters, and special rewards will be up for grabs. I speculate that Raid will be something like a horde mode, and the longer you last, the bigger and more difficult the enemies will become, with rewards raising as you progress.
Despite ZENONIA 5 being a visual gem, in my eyes there are a few things about the game that I’d like to comment on. First of all, the fact the game requires an always-on internet connection is something I believe the game can do without. Sure you need it when you’re going into PvP or Abyss or when using the in-game shop, but you shouldn’t need an always-on internet connection unless you’re absolutely dedicated to accessing the online features. I would’ve loved to see a toggle between online and offline modes for the game.
I don’t have 3G for my device and having to need the internet when I’m out on the bus or somewhere where there isn’t internet — when I want to play singleplayer to pass the time — is a little more than annoying. I’m just a single user that’s not really fussed about the online features, but locking out the rest of the game because I can’t access the internet just seems a bit unfair.
The responsiveness of the Moving Controls could be tightened up a bit as well. It wasn’t as bad when exploring the world, it only became a problem when in combat. It was tedious work for me trying to line up a shot with my Mechanic – I even had trouble interacting with things like NPCs.
During my experience, I experienced a bit of an issue with sound effects. The “dings”, shouts, and weapon noises coming from the character were the only sounds heard, with no sound effects coming from the enemies. I feel the inclusion of sounds for enemies would make them more interesting — to hear, instead of just being interesting to look at. Expanding on the sound would not only satisfy my pedantic-ness, but also make the environment in which the player navigates more immersive.
ZENONIA 5 is visual gem of a mobile title. Its rich colour palette adds tone and depth to the world that the player experiences. With four classes to choose from, the player can either engage demons from afar and rain all sorts of death upon them, or get up close and smack their lights in. In multiplayer, players can fight against each other in one-on-one deathmatches, or test their own speed in a time-attack.
Unfortunately, the game is a bit weak in terms of its audio — in some places, I believe more audio could have been used to enhance the game’s immersion factor. It also requires an always-on internet connection, which isn’t helpful when you’re just wanting to play the story. Some people may be okay with that but most gamers see the downside of this. Despite the little things, however, Zenonia 5 is a solid RPG title with a fair bit of action and a sinister plot waiting for the player to unravel it.
If that sounds like your kind of thing, then head on over to the Google Play store and download it for free.
Summary: Solid ARPG for Mobile devices, but it could've been better.