A surprise to be sure – but a rogue-lite one.
I was playing some Daggerdale over the weekend, when I got a Steam (PC gaming storefront/library) notification.
I thought it might have been a friend messaging me, but NOPE – CHUCK TESTA. Screw you, that meme will never die – by which I mean ‘It was actually a notification telling me that Ziggurat II had been released’.
I’d completely forgotten that Ziggurat II was a thing. I still play the first one (which is unsurprisingly titled Ziggurat), so I was pretty happy to see that the series is still going.
I clicked on the notification and noticed that Ziggurat II was in Early Access. As a non-fan of the Early Access vibe, I had to make a decision. However, as I was still, shall we say ‘ten sheets to the wind’ due to my drinking during the earlier Among Us gaming session I didn’t make my usual purchase decisions.
Torn between not wanting to support Early Access and my love for Ziggurat, I decided to think long and hard about it – but my drunken hands had already decided for me.
Ziggurat II: A basic overview
Ziggurat II, much like the game before it, is a fantasy rogue-like shooter. Dynamic-wise, it’s similar to the Painkiller series, or parts of Doom 2016: You walk into a room, the room locks, and the room remains locked until you’ve killed all the spawned enemies.
You have 4 weapon types, all of which have an alternate fire mode (which depends on which specific model/variant you’re using):
Wands can be compared to pistols from most modern shooters. You begin the game with (some of) them unlocked, and they’re a resource/damage trade-off: They don’t use mana (ammunition) but they also don’t do much damage.
Spells can be compared to shotguns. They often pack a lot of punch, but they lose a lot of accuracy when they’re used for long-range attacks.
Staves (or Staffs if you hate old-timey English) can be compared to small automatic weapons, such as SMGs or even AK47s. They often spew out projectiles in quick succession, but their fast output also comes with a drop in accuracy. Close range, though? They’re lethal.
In Ziggurat, these were mainly explosives. In Ziggurat II, they’re more like a Miscellaneous catergory, but usually with a very high accuracy factor.
You can unlock and upgrade weapons by playing the game.
You can also level up your character in the missions (which is different from leveling them up overall), whereby you can choose from random stats/abilities (such as moving quicker or having more mana for a certain weapon).
The player can also choose from two wizards, who are identical apart from their appearance and one special skill. Speaking of skills, there are two types of special skills: Characer-based, and Amulet-based. The amulets, along with most (if not all) of the equipment in the game, can be upgraded.
Ziggurat II: What to expect
There are two areas of the game: The Laboratory and the Ziggurats (or ‘towers’, because that’s what ziggurat basically means) themselves.
The Laboratory is basically the base of operations, where you can examine/upgrade any unlocked characters or equipment.
The Ziggurats, which are mostly randomized, are where the actual gameplay takes place.
Ziggurat II adds a new resource to the franchise: Coins.
Coins, which are used to upgrade characters/items can only be earnt in-game. Earning coins, while simple enough (just kill stuff), can be hard to do. You see, the amount of equipment you take into missions will directly affect your ability to earn Coins.
If you take a full rig (Wand, Spell, Staff, Alchemy, Amulet) into a mission, the coin loot rate drops to 30%. If you only take a wand, the game will (obviously) be much harder, but the coin loot rate will remain at 100%.
Choosing certain Ziggurats might allow you to unlock certain items, all of which is randomized.
Unlike Ziggurat, Ziggurat II also has a storyline to follow. Following the storyline will allow you to unlock new characters with unique stats and character-based skills, but I haven’t made it that far yet. Well, I got to the boss of the first character-unlock ziggurat but I’m having trouble getting past it, presumably because I’m hoarding my coins instead of injecting them into the economy.
The gameplay itself is simple enough, and the can sprint and dash/dodge to their hearts content.
The graphics, while still a little cartoony (which I like about the game) are quite advanced when compared to the original Ziggurat. It looks modern, that’s for sure.
While I’m not very good at it (I keep dying), I’m quite enjoying Ziggurat II. The fact that it’s possible to complete some towers in 10-15 minutes (it was more like 45 minutes in the original) makes me want to play the game more often, too.
The only thing missing from the first game is the secret rooms, but (according to the developers) they were removed so that players could concentrate on the combat.
Ziggurat II is everything a sequel should be: It’s more of the same, but bigger and better.