Ziggurat (XB1) Review

Spells and carrots.

It seems on a weekly basis games are dropping on Xbox One from the ID@Xbox program out of nowhere. We usually hear about them on Thursday, and then they are here. This is not necessarily a trend I dislike, but it definitely causes players to overlook tons of potentially great games. Ziggurat came out of nowhere, well at least on console; it has been on PC for a while. This unique mix of first-person shooting and roguelike brings a blend of action missing from the console.

Picture Heretic mixed with the mindless shooting and enemy waves of Serious Sam; this is Ziggurat. Toss in the fact that when I died it was game over, and the roguelike elements surface. Every game begins on the first floor of a dungeon, with the objective being to go as many levels deep as possible. Of course, if I died it was back to the start. Levels are also randomly generated each time, making memorization impossible. Sometimes the first ten floors were a breeze, and other times I died right out of the gate.

MSRP: $14.99
Platforms: XB1, PC
Price I’d Pay: $9.99

Each floor holds a key and a boss to defeat, and as I moved on I gained new weapons and skill points to level up my character. These remain after death, so grinding is not only plausible, but necessary.

What makes Ziggurat work is that everything it does, it does well. The shooting itself feels great. Circle-strafing enemies takes me back to the early days of PC gaming. The enemies are varied and attack in different manners. The bosses are old-school by design, and there are plenty of rooms to explore or ignore. I also enjoyed that the game worked for both short and long sessions. I could spend 15 minutes or two hours, depending on my mood. Few games have that balance.

The sense of accomplishment here though is fantastic. Completing a dungeon is satisfying, and grinding characters to make them stronger actually feels progressive. I just wish there was a little more variety to the layouts and enemy selection.

If there is one area where Ziggurat falters, it is performance. The game suffers frequent frame rate drops, horrid screen tearing and more. It is peculiar for a game that is not that visually intensive. It seems like something that could be fixed with a patch, and it certainly never hindered game play in any fashion, but that doesn’t make it any less disappointing to see.

Ziggurat is an interesting game. I really enjoyed the fast-paced combat and incremental progression, but the technical issues stick out like a sore thumb. Still, if you can get past those there is a neat experience waiting here. Although the price tag feels a little steep, it never felt like I didn’t get my money’s worth of enjoyment out of it.

Review copy of game provided by publisher.

  • Addictive dungeon crawling
  • Shooting is great
  • Technical issues
  • Level layout grows tiresome
Written by
Ken is the Editor-in-Chief of this hole in the wall and he loves to troll for the fun of it. He also enjoys long walks through Arkham Asylum and the cool air of Shadow Moses Island. His turn-ons include Mortal Kombat, Metal Gear Solid and StarCraft.