INTRODUCTIONThe mythical island of Tanzia is home to a strange, primitive race who prize magic, alchemy, and the ancient art of arcanity above all else. And deep within the colourful forest village that the Akazi people call home, ArcanityInc’s classically inspired RPG is born.
The Akazi lore that slowly unfolds in comic book stills is overwhelmed by text but feels so organic and original: A nefarious Skeleton King abusing the power of arcanity tries to kill the grandchild of The Great One, the Akazi people’s leader. Fortunately, the child survives and is sent to Volcano Island for safekeeping, where preparation for the Skeleton King’s inevitable ambush (and the present timeline) begins.
Tanzia is currently in closed beta and is expected to release in 2016 for PC.
GAMEPLAYA beautiful, fairytale-like ambience permeates the village in which you start your journey, accentuated by the gentle lyrical soundtrack and abundance of trees. Tanzia relies on the standard WASD movement controls but makes a cumbersome design choice with the camera system, forcing players to click and hold the right mouse button rather than automatically moving as in most third-person adventure titles. Despite this, I quickly adapted and began to enjoy exploring my immediate surroundings.
Playing as The Great One's grandchild, you receive basic objectives from master shaman Abenaki which mainly involve gathering reagents needed for synthesising potions, gathering gold, and training alchemy skills. The initial quest entails finding a practice weapon, a spell, and a potion, and as you fulfil each objective, unexpected flashbacks slice through your consciousness like déjà vu and slowly reveal more of Tanzia's beguiling story. Tanzia also has strong onboarding with clear explanations outlining the important features of each area, such as totems, which replenish hit points and mana but also function as a save point, and teleportation portals which slash travel time.
Like in any RPG, familiarising yourself with the essentials like which potions to buy and how to effectively battle enemies, takes time, but this is half the fun. The remaining half lies in levelling up, which does involve some grinding; but main quests themselves also yield a solid amount of XP which makes Tanzia very satisfying to play.
Beyond the main village, there are new areas to dive into promising different materials to collect, wild animals to slay, and quirky Akazi villagers to meet. Along with surprise treasure chests with extra sums of gold you can acquire to purchase new spells and potions, there are side quests including crab herding and locating lost items, and a variety of different enemies which encourage you to continue collecting health and mana potions to successfully defeat them and ultimately level up, making for a great game loop and a convincing RPG.
See Tanzia in action in one of our Let's play videos made by our editor, Karl Rocco.
might and magicThroughout the adventure, your role in an ancient tribal rivalry between the Akazi and the Emuri people becomes clearer, and you are tasked with travelling to the Emuri village to collect silver from the outskirts.
Naturally, the Emuri are powerful, voodoo wielding warriors which demand good defensive spells and a reserve of health potions since enemy attacks in Tanzia cannot be dodged. Fortunately, there are a plethora of different battle techniques that can be used against them, such as the almighty thunder spell, or if you prefer a more inconspicuous route, an invisibility potion that will let you sneak by for a limited period of time. Whatever your approach, the difficulty level is very well balanced and would be suitable even for beginners to the RPG genre.
A few areas where Tanzia could improve include altering the effects of different surfaces, for example, steep cliffs could be more realistic if the character slipped, and a swimming animation would boost enjoyment as opposed to simply walking under water. In addition, the overabundance of textual information in characters' speech boxes is slightly overwhelming and could be reduced for a less dense reading time, but I am conscious of the fact that these are beta issues much like the missing images and blurry text that appear when the Docks and Emuri Village pages load, and will be smoothed over prior to the game's final release.
CONCLUSIONAs it stands, Tanzia is a thoughtfully constructed experience which sustains player interest with its esoteric lore, multiple side quests and enchanting music. Although character and environment art could benefit from a further polish, they still achieve a sense of beauty and harmonise well with the soundtrack and general atmosphere of the game.
The biggest issues are perhaps the unusual camera system design and lack of realism with regards to different surfaces such as steep gradients and aqueous regions. Overall, the enjoyment value outweighs any inconsistencies, and Tanzia casts an arcane, lyrical RPG spell that will keep you thoroughly immersed in its world for countless hours.
| + Interesting story|| - Clunky camera system|
| + Beautiful, ambient music|| - Generic terrain|
| + Good levelling system|