Zenith: [zee-nith or, esp. British, zen-ith] noun 1- the point on the celestial sphere vertically above a given position or observer. 2- a highest point or state; culmination. With the definition in mind, Zenith is anything but as poor Argus manages to get stuck from one shitty situation to another in a seemingly never ending spiral downwards in the most hilarious of fashions.
From the very beginning you know that Argus is not having a good day. Humans are at war with the Elves and things don’t look so great especially as these Elves just so happen to have also caught our protagonist. Planning on taking his life regardless of what he says, Argus while using his smart mouth, which is only serving to speed up his impending doom, is saved by tenor singing spiders which once busy munching on the Elves will try to eat him too all the while epicly singing. Armed with nothing more than his magic gauntlet and a few spells, it’s time to show the others who’s boss. Unfortunately for Argus, it isn’t him.
Zenith is absolutely hilarious and kindled a familiar love for the older school PS2/PC Action RPGs. Argus has access to a few weapons, a few potions, and a sarcasm stat of 999 which is impressive in any circumstance. Armed with these there’s no shortage of stupidities that ensue which is why Zenith is as awesome as it is. The gameplay is good and solid but it’s the dialog that carries everything through. It’s smart, it’s funny, it’s crass like there’s no tomorrow, and the innuendos along with the puns are as blatant as they are subtle. It is clear that whoever wrote this adventure had a very fun time and it translates very well over to the player or those watching while playing something else.
With all of the open worlds that have popped up over the past few years it was great to sit down and follow a linear path of events that contained the occasional flashbacks. While Zenith may have a straight line, but it never comes across as a railroaded or forced experience. All the unfortunate, and hilarious, bad to worse situations are what drive Argus forward as the man just can’t seem to catch a break. Running away from gangster Orcs leads to a sewer full of sentient rats which lead back to a party of “adventurers” who inadvertently almost re-cause another apocalypse. All in a day’s work for our no longer Wizard.
Running between all of these hilarious events, Argus will need to get his hands dirty. Armed with either a Gauntlet, a Sword, or a Hammer, anything can be pummeled into the ground as long as there are hit points in the health bar. Being a Wizard, Argus can cast a curved shield to protect himself from forward attacks but will need to use a bit of dexterity to roll out of the way is anyone also comes in from the sides or the back. Thankfully Argus is an in shape for a Wizard but it should be noted that the shield does not protect from above as some sneaky awful fire breathing things go right over that glorious protective barrier.
With one of three weapons available at any time, as long as you’ve picked it up already and didn’t sell it, there’s plenty of damage to be dealt but dealing with it personally? Argus is a Wizard which means that he can’t always take a proper hit. This is really where the Action Adventure elements shine as gameplay is smooth. Argus can attack the enemies with his weapons, he can use spells and put up a shield as long as he has the mana to do so, or he can simply dodge out of the way. Getting hit is going to hurt and Argus’ health bar isn’t the most robust but that makes sense as he is technically a squishy wizard on the morning after a hangover. He really should know better than to drink that much after getting older. The mornings only get harder…
There are some moments of the adventure where the straight line kind of disappears allowing Argus to hit the world map and run around a little bit to stretch his legs out. While it may only be “simulated freedom” between one goal and the other, it’s a great opportunity for leveling up a little bit. During these times, encounters can be had with enemies that roam the map or Argus can even challenge portals that spawn loads of enemies that give a reward if he can last to the end of the waves. Running away is an option that allows Argus to keep both the experience gained, the potions lost, and his life. Probably the most important part as no one likes seeing the game over screen… repeatedly anyways. Some of those portals offered hefty challenges!
As it’s been a good chunk of years since he’s pulled out the magic, Argus is going to have to get back into the swing of things which is where the Talent Tree comes into play. There are three separate trees available, one of the gauntlet (water/ice), one for the sword (fire), and one for the hammer (earth). Leveling up grants access to two skill points that can be used in order to improve Argus’ familiarity and potency of each of these weapon types as well as add in other things like increased defense and attack parameters. While there may be only three core weapons, each of these three do exist in each of the elements allowing for a lot more versatility depending on the personal play style. Skill points are simply required within the tree to unlock those abilities down the line. The only thing that can’t be modified is the sarcasm stat, he’s maxed that one out already.
Zenith is more than worth sitting down to for multiple laughs and great older schooled gameplay. The developers and the writers have really hit gold with the balance of the two and the sheer hilarity of the dialog. Breanna can attest that I had to put the controller down more than once because I was crying from laughing so hard.
So thank you for making this and I really hope to see more!
Article by Pierre-Yves