I got fired from my job at the Stanford Bookstore for flirting with the customers. Here’s what happened: This really good-looking girl came up to me and said, “Is this the check-out counter?” I arched an eyebrow and said, “Yes it is, ’cause I’ma checkin’ you out!”
Unfortunately, my boss overheard and totally overreacted. Now I’m out of the job.
OK, I made that all up, but the point is that when you write a review, you should have an interesting opening to capture the readers’ interest before you start lecturing on what the game is like.
This month I’m reviewing Zatikon, a PC game by Chronic Logic. While reviewing a different Chronic Logic game, Colin Greenhalgh said that it was a game made by gamers for gamers. Well, Zatikon is pretty much just like that: It’s a strategy lover’s strategy game.
In general, the game works a lot like chess. You’re assigned a bunch of characters, all of which can move and attack in certain directions. The goal of the game is to move the characters from your end of the board to the other end of the board. The game ends when you move a character onto the enemy castle.
The resemblance to chess ends there, and thank goodness, because I don’t like chess. To make things even better, all the deviancy from chess involve strategizing. For example, unlike chess, where you start a game with all the characters on the board, you get to choose which characters to deploy. This greatly affects the strategy of the game, because you can deploy different characters at different times.
Which brings me to the most interesting part of the game, strategy-wise: You only get five moves per turn. This is in stark contrast to other fighting/strategy games, where you either move one character per turn, or all of them. This forces you to make a bunch of decisions like “Do I use up my turn fighting this enemy, or do I use it to deploy an archer and fight the enemy on the next turn?” It’s such a brilliant way to increase the importance of strategy techniques that I’m surprised no one else has thought of it.
I…I have to make a confession, though. This is a great strategy game, but I got tired of playing it because I committed the cardinal strategy-game sin…reusing strategies. After using the same winning strategy for five fights in a row, I grew bored. There’s no way to keep things interesting if every fight is exactly the same. I mean, that’s why all the 2D Final Fantasy games are boring as hell! So that’s one of the things I’d hold against this game—the fact that you can fall into the trap of getting bored by repetitive battles.
That’s pretty much all I have to say, but apparently I need to talk about the audio and visuals before the review is over. Well, they get the job done. There’s nothing fancy about them, but then again, you don’t NEED fancy graphics and orchestra scores when all that happens is Character A hits Character B. Take that hint, Fire Emblem. No one likes to see your half-minute animations every five seconds.
OK, so that’s audio and visuals done. There’s no problems with the controls, either. Anything else I have to talk about? Is that everything? That’s everything? Good, I’ll move on to the last paragraph wrap-up, then.
Like I said earlier, this is a strategy-lover’s strategy game. There are a lot of options that you can use to up all the strategy fun, so many that I haven’t looked into them yet: the ability to buy new characters, the ability to play on boards with different set-ups, and, of course, the ability to play other gamers online. If you like strategy games, you should try out the demo and see if you like it. If you don’t like strategy, look for a different game.