Ziggurat is a first person rogue-lite in where we take on the role of a wizard trying to complete his rite of passage into a powerful brotherhood. To do so he or she must brave their way through the dungeon of Ziggurat which very few return from alive. Upon entering we start off with our trusty wand and a random weapon generated by the dungeon. One of the first things you will likely notice is just how tiny our character is. He is supposed to be a regular human but in game it feels like he is like a foot tall and it does take a while to get used to your view coming from so low on the ground. What he lacks in size he makes up for in speed as your character is very agile and can move at break neck speeds, even without sprinting. It comes in handy as the gameplay here is old school in the sense that you can dodge your enemies’ projectiles as you keep on the move instead of hiding behind cover. Your enemies are typically wacky things like evil carrots, mushrooms and slimes which gives it a light hearted tone, though the threat they pose is very real.
Every time you start a new game the dungeon’s rooms and floors changes meaning no two playthroughs will be the same. The rooms can range from treasure rooms where opening the chest can lead to either fortune or misfortune, a wave of enemies or a trap filled room that sometimes contain treasure at the end. There is not much variety and you will quickly begin to see the same rooms being repeated after a few playthroughs. Most of the rooms will pit you against a wave of the dungeon’s monsters and you will be locked in until you dispose of every single one of them. The gameplay is fast paced and tons of fun featuring three mana pools for each elemental weapon type. Weapons that require mana are far more powerful than your basic wand though they will quickly burn through all that your reserves and acquiring more mana comes down to pure luck from your enemy drops. It is better to use it only when you are in a pinch or save it for the bosses. Your go-to weapon will be the purple wand that you start off with that can be infinitely used but does require some time to recharge after consecutive rounds. The wand differs slightly from character to character but more often than not you will be spending more time waiting for it to recharge so you can actually fight again. It is most likely to balance the gameplay but with how little damage it does you do get the feeling they went a little overboard with the recharge rate.
Every weapon has an alt fire which are usually a simple shoot more projectiles at once type of ordeal. It comes in real handy with dealing with large crowds and gives more options for your combat style. With how frequent you will be in combat they try to mix it up a little by randomly throwing a modifier in some rooms such as giant enemies or making a certain mana type cost less to use while raising the cost of all the others. They don’t really add much to be honest, giant or tiny enemies have as much health as normal and more often than not you are given very annoying modifier such as only being allowed to move while jumping. It is an attempt to spice up the gameplay but feels more like an unwanted nuisance than anything else. A modifier that I particularly loathe is one that summons a couple of obelisks that take an annoying amount of damage to destroy while enemies infinitely respawn around you until you do so. The things like small mana pools, waiting for your basic weapon to recharge after a bit of usage and annoying modifiers do make the game more difficult but at the cost of fun and the flow of the action. It is a ton of fun avoiding homing projectiles, shooting area of effect spells into a crowd of enemies and then flinging a tornado spell at a line of enemies so it is disappointing your arsenal feels very limited due to mana.
There is a way to increase your mana pools when leveling up. After collecting enough yellows gems from defeated enemies you will level up and be able to choose from one of two cards that can have a variety of effects like regenerating health from breaking objects, increased damage when your health is low or the aforementioned increased mana storage for one of the three elements. The problem with that is you have two cards from a large selection of perks and three mana slots making the chances of being able to increase the mana pool for the weapon type you have very slim. You are given a new weapon for each floor you complete though the selection when you start the game is lackluster. More are unlocked the more you play the game though it can get a bit boring playing the game over and over again with nearly identical weapons the first few hours of the game. Eventually you will have poison grenades, freezing spells and a spell that flings a spectral skull that seeks out its targets to name a few. Ziggurat has very fun and interesting gadgets at its disposal making it a shame that you start with very little. It is likely designed this way in an attempt to keep you playing since you unlock more stuff every playthrough but it ended up doing the exact opposite of that since the excitement of discovery wanes very quickly due to it.
To complete a floor you will have to face the boss but before you do so you’ll need a portal key to summon it. You must explore the floor’s rooms to find it which can lead to some pretty interesting situations in where you find both very quickly and must decide if you should risk clearing out some rooms in order to level up a bit. Bosses are just giant versions of regular enemies disappointingly enough but you will soon forget about that since their way of fighting is a lot different and far more vicious. It is quite exciting to be running away from a giant goblin as it smashes the pillars you were hiding behind a few seconds ago while you desperately rain down spells and try to avoid his goons. A large part of why bosses are difficult is because they have a mob of infinitely respawning enemies so you must focus fire on it alone unless you want to dry up your mana supply quickly. What boss you will face is randomly generated which is a nice way to keep you on your toes since you have no idea what you are about to summon. The enemy AI is decent enough but there is no real enemy placement, you just walk into a room and they magically keep teleporting in around you until the game decides you have killed enough to pass.
The environments are nothing special and are mostly just a bunch of gray rooms with the occasional lava. What really gives this game its own unique flair is the colorful lighting. There are plenty of different colored crystals growing out of the ground and let out a soft glow that really adds to the sense of being in a magical and mysterious environment. Both your spells and the enemies’ projectiles are colorful as well making the once gray room suddenly turn into a very deadly rave club. Music is decent too, nothing special but it does its job well and keeps you invested in what is happening on screen. Story is nothing to write home about, it is there but it’s nothing memorable. Some lore is also added into the game via scrolls that you may randomly find in a room that talk about the contents of the dungeon and the wizard’s order. Once you’ve killed enough of a certain enemy you will unlock it in the bestiary menu and be able to view its character model without the fear of it ripping your face off. It’s a first person shooter but it’s really not all that violent, enemies just fall down and disappear. All in all Ziggurat is a game with many flaws that keep it from being great. It is shallow and gets boring fast due to not having much variety in the randomly placed rooms, small amount of items that can spawn when you start the game and modifiers not being fun or interesting in the slightest. Despite all that it is still a decent game with the type of fast paced FPS combat not seen very much these days and a good choice when you are low on time and want some quick, evil carrot slaying fun.