I’ve been on a bit of a hunt recently for a particular kind of game. You see, I’ve had a hankering for an old-school dungeon crawler with complex, if not obtuse, systems of character management. You know the type, where you pick a warrior, a mage, a thief, or whatever you want and make a party and outfit them and go trekking into a horde of monsters or an evil king’s castle… Something like the Ultima series, but not Ultima.
I figured since such a game, though requiring a finesse in balancing and coding, really doesn’t need a huge amount of resources to design, the indie community was certain to have what I wanted. However, it seems that RPG Maker games and overly-sexualized anime games are more en vogue, and whenever an “innovative” adventure game is released, the style gravitates towards “gritty, hardcore 16-bit game”. I don’t have anything against these games. They’re just not what I’m looking for. I thought I had finally found it though, my barebones adventure RPG… However it seems I may have been too keen on sloppy design (or perhaps the rose-colored glasses of nostalgia is making me forget just how unsatisfying those old games can be…) I shouldn’t be too negative, though—it’s an okay game, it just lacks that finesse I mentioned earlier. Also the interface is less minimalist and more lazy. But enough of the vague assessments, today’s game is Zavix Tower.
So as I said before, Zavix Tower is a dungeon-crawler RPG with a customizable party system that throws you into your adventure and basically lets you go with minimal hand-holding. You start out by assembling a party of four, customizing their stats and abilities, as well as their race and gender, though the latter are more cosmetic than anything else. Then you’re thrown into the eponymous Zavix Tower. Here you will wander and encounter enemies, find treasure, the works! Though it is fairly straightforward and functional, the gameplay leaves something to be desired.
If you played the first few expansions of World of Warcraft, you’ll quickly recognize where this game borrows a lot of its game elements. The abilities and talent trees are built pretty closely to match the command and talent trees of the MMO. Of course, World of Warcraft doesn’t have the exclusive rights to such things, but in some circumstances, it really looks like things were lifted and modified, as opposed to simply being inspired by the aesthetic.
There is a story involved in the game but, frankly, it’s pretty stock. The heroes travel into a tower in search of treasure, fame, and, ultimately, conquering the unseemly power at the top of the tower. It’s all fairly easy to overlook, but it’s also not the main draw of the game. I will say, however, that the text boxes suffer from a lack of effort—the text is often off-center and can occasionally don’t stay within their frames. This makes the dungeon-crawler gameplay, something heavily reliant on the usability of the game’s interface, rather difficult to enjoy.
Even with time, you don’t get used to the issues the game has—difficulty reading, selecting, and at times even moving never really cease. Unfortunately, Zavix Tower failed to satisfy my craving. With talent trees, ability names and more reminiscent of early versions of World of Warcraft, and a slipshod attempt at design, this game lets you down in many ways. There is a working game here, however, so if you’re the type who likes to overcome such challenges, by all means—but I for one was not pleased with the unfinished feel of this game. You may want to explore the menacing Zavix Tower, but you won’t likely come out. Not because you will be overwhelmed by the enemies, but you’ll likely just lose interest.