Zorkron is the newest game from Gigoia Studios. It is pitched as a Short Sci-Fi Puzzle / Platform 3D Game in three acts; I will now dissect this pitch word by word:
This is a very accurate part of the pitch; Zorkron has very little gameplay time, able to knock it out in maybe 20 minutes or so. It is very linear with nearly nothing to overcome in each of the three “acts”.
This part is reasonable accurate, being that the game is set “at the era of 5.832 A.N.” however this is a fact I’m only aware of from the website where you can buy the game. The actual game itself just drops you into a level with no actual story, and no threat of one throughout the three acts; it just about barely touches onto what is going on but with basically no substance whatsoever, meaning you aren’t drawn into the game whatsoever you’re just going through the motions.
I have to disagree heavily with this part. Early on you’re told that you can pick up objects (always the same one) with the E key/X button, this is then placed onto a receiver which in turn unlocks the next section you have to go through; the receiver is always within about a meter of the object meaning no puzzle to what it is for.
You are also told at the same time that you can push blocks; this is first seen at the end of the first act in order to activate a path of stones to jump across, however if you fall into the void and die instead it resets the area automatically placing the block for you meaning it’s a total non-issue at this point being entirely unimportant and emphasising there is nearly no thought process required to tackle the game’s “puzzles”. Block pushing coming in again at the end with a more puzzle based approach of matching symbols, but this is hard taxing and pushing the blocks is just tedious and burdensome.
This is probably what the entirety of Zorkron is actually hinging on. Most of the gameplay comes from hopping from platform to platform to reach an ending area, however this is little more than can be offered in a Minecraft parkour map. The platform is underwhelming to the point of being non-existent, and in a weird touch if you press jump while in the air you will automatically jump again when you land, so I spent most of my time bunny-hopping through areas waiting for the game to get more interesting, sadly.
The graphics left a lot to be desired; the textures were very mediocre, looking decent from a distance until you got closer and saw their low resolution and the blending issues on some areas where patches just carelessly collide leaving a very amateur look. The game also suffers from pop-up of graphics, notable in the blades of grass on the ground as well as any background terrain. The reflections of the water are also terrible, looking very pixelated and ALSO suffering from pop-up issues, leaving it all feeling incredibly ugly.
Another very annoying feature of the graphics that whether you use keyboard or controller the mouse keeps flickering onto existence in the middle of the screen which is surely very easily fixed and is a major blemish to instantly great you when you start to play a game.
Also the scaling of the world feels very bizarre; like this point at which I appeared to be on half a staircase which may make sense if you don’t look directly down meaning I’m somehow levitating the half of my body that isn’t supported by the stairs…
As mentioned previously the gameplay is very lacking; the puzzles are non-existent and the platforming is poor. This isn’t aided by the poor level design; from having too long a corridor after the area which you are meant to unlock the path, meaning too long a backtrack if you missed it, to the great gaming sin that is invisible walls; these are fine in a more open environment behind things like hills etc. that the player isn’t supposed to be able to traverse anyway, but in an ENTIRELY open area where you just can’t walk any more it is very lazy and annoying. The collision detection is pretty poor also; I often found myself hopping up a wall rather than the jutting platforms there to hop on. One of my biggest grievances with the game design is that Esc or Back (on the Xbox Controller) INSTANTLY removes you to the main menu, resetting all progress to that point; this is a horrendously bad design choice and is completely unforgivable. The sound effects in the game are pretty bad quality, but the background music is pretty good and could set a decent atmosphere if there was more to support that in game.
Having entirely dissected the pitch of the game it is very obvious they have missed the mark badly with Zorkron, it is something which can look pretty from a distance, but on closer inspect is flawed and unenjoyable. The price tag would be a very important discussion point for this game, if it was free then a lot could be overlooked and the whole thing chalked up to being a learning experience for the developer, however they are charging $6 for the game; this does come with bonuses like an art booklet, poster, concept art pack etc. and that is where all the value would be as the game is not worth that itself but this means what is the value in bonuses which are based on that game?
I worry I have come across as overly critical however this is a game with a price tag and no substance, so this is exactly how I view it; this game is a big miss due to the full game just feeling like a tech demo in progress.