Zavix Tower is a magically forged tower, making it never-ending and causing it to change its layout constantly. Holding some of the most powerful artefacts in all the land (I feel sorry for whoever has to do those stock-takes), it has now inevitably come under the control of nasty mean demons. So, of course, the best thing to do if you're in charge of this tower is to put up Staff Wanted posters asking all adventurers to go in and clear out those nasties. No previous experience required.
Created and published by Batholith Entertainment, Zavix Tower is a supposedly Rogue-like game in which you embark on a quest to clear out said magical tower from a pesky demon infestation, utilising turn-based combat and a movement system reminiscent of Legend of Grimrock, with not-really-perma-death and a classic party system structure. Trawling through endless corridors with just one looping soundtrack for a company, you'll soon yourself lost with the confines of this tower, but perhaps not in a good way…
Zavix Tower is currently available on Steam for £10.99
Tyran'ildor, a big bad demon who always wakes up on the wrong side of the bed, has decided that one of his lieutenants, Magranus, is getting a bit too uppity. Worried that the little whipper-snapper is planning to usurp him, Tyran'ildor decides to send the eager beaver off to capture an endless tower full of powerful artefacts. So either he gets shot of a dangerous lacky, or he gets a bunch of powerful trinkets. Win-Win for Tyran'ildor. Of course, this draws the ire of the local goody-two-shoes and so a call to arms is sent out for all willing adventurers to venture into the tower and reclaim it. And that's where you and your party comes in!
But that's about it as far as the story goes. There're a few books within the tower scattered about adding some more flavour to the wider world and a few bosses you come across, but really it has no impact. Also, due to the fact that the tower is painfully never-ending, there is…well, no end to the story.
So, of course, you must create your very own hardy group of adventurers! Well, I say create. You basically get the choice of four classes (Though to be fair you do get more choices on further down the line when recruiting new group members) and four races (Human, Dwarf, Elf, and Orc). So your choices are pretty limited in that respect. And don’t worry too much about wondering what your characters will look like. You get given a choice of some pretty generic portraits which are defined only by your character’s gender. So if you want a human who looks strangely like an Orc, then go for it! The only real choice you get is assigning your starting attribute points.
Now that you’ve booted up the game, gathered your party of generic characters and found out the source of the great evil, you’re ready to venture forth! The first thing you’ll be met by is the town surrounding Zavix Tower, which is essentially just a glorified menu where you pick up quests (don’t expect anything beyond ‘Kill X amount of Y’ or ‘Reach Floor Z’), improve your equipment, hire new party members, resurrect dead ones and learn new abilities. The game does state that you can upgrade the town, which can be done at The Cart, but this more or less means that you upgrade the items that the Blacksmith stocks or the characters that appear at the Inn, rather than actually changing the makeup of the town in any way.
Speaking of the Blacksmith, take heed when buying or selling any items from this shyster, as any items you accidentally buy can only be sold back at a reduced price or any items you mistakenly sell must be brought back for an increased amount. No pop-up asking if you actually meant to do this, just “Tough luck mate.” This does add a level of annoyance rather than a degree of difficulty.
So once you've trudged through town and upgraded your party, it's time to enter the tower!
Upon entering you are met with a bland stone room with a randomly generated number of doors. Using Q and E to rotate the camera and the standard WASD keys to move, you can start navigating your way through the tower. Each corridor is much of a muchness, so there's nothing to really stop and admire along the way. You do come across some locked doors which add a small layer of intrigue, though not really enough. And in this way, you must fight your way through to the next level of the tower, and then the next, and the next…and the next, with a boss at every five levels to break things up a bit. Be sure not to exit before reaching the floor beyond the boss by the way, or you'll end up having to slog your way past all those floors again.Combat itself is pretty standard so far as turn-based combat is concerned, though you do get to set formations for your party and save your favourite party set-ups, which is pretty helpful. This usually means putting your squishes safely behind your heavies. The effects don't go beyond a few badly rendered fireballs and little jerky movements when the enemy attacks, along with some pretty jaunty sound effects every now and again. Between combat, you might find a treasure chest, or some strange looking man offering you goodies, but really there's not actually much to be done. You do have those quests which you picked up in town to complete before leaving, but there's not really a massive amount of incentive if you don't really feel like it.
And what of the actual mechanics? The bits which make the game? Let’s start with the UI shall we, which frankly leaves much to be desired. When your game is based on RPG elements and gear grinding, you’d at least hope to have a fully fleshed out and well-designed UI, to help keep things organised and make the game a little more fluid. Not so here I’m afraid. The whole thing feels squashed whilst in combat and gives an overall impression of being very messy. It does all the basic stuff you need, but just not in a polished fashion. Whilst out of combat, sorting through items and rotating equipment is a laborious task.
To be fair some of the character models actually look pretty neat in their own stylized fashion, and the environments, whilst repetitive, do have a certain charm about them. And really, you shouldn't be playing these sorts of games for the graphics anyhows.
The game does market itself as a Rogue-like game, however, the difficulty curve just isn't really there as you'd expect, and death is less than permanent as even if you have a full party wipe you resurrect back at town, albeit with most items lost. And if just a single character dies then they can be brought back at the local church, for a small fee of course.
And that's it…
For all the criticism I've been firing at Zavix Tower here, I actually found the game strangely charming. Sure the movement feels a bit clunky and the game is pretty thin on substance, but if you're just looking for something to sink hours into for no apparent goal, then this could well be the game for you. Despite its down points, you'll find yourself going through floor after floor, although this is mostly just so you can reach a checkpoint and not have to go through those levels again.
I understand that many fans of old-school games similar to this find plenty of joy in talent and skills trees, but for me, that just can't justify a whole game, even if it is indie. Maybe I'm being a bit unfair, but there we are. The £10.99 price tag attached is also a bit much for a game which essentially has so little to offer.
If you're a fan of old school RPG grinders, then dive right into this, but if not then I'd give it a miss.
|+ Casual pick-up and play||– Repetitive|
|+ Charming graphics||– Bad sound effects and soundtrack|
|+ Strangely addictive||– Frustrating inventory menus|
|– Messy UI|
|– Lack of any real goals|