Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2, iPod touch 4
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This game intrigues me. Some games love their graphical user interfaces, but Ziggurat provides none. Theres no score given until the end of the game. The goal is to ward off the incoming hordes of killer aliens with a plasma ball cannon. The story is that the player is the last human on Earth, trying to take down as many of the aliens as they can before they just get overwhelmed.
This minimalism gives Ziggurat a different feel; it's all about survival in the moment, and focusing on that, not a score number. The game uses a great combination of a fixed progression with random positioning of enemy waves. The music unravels and reveals over time; it becomes a reward for playing well. The whole game feels somewhat Super Crate Box-esque in its execution, with its goal to maintain control of the playing field for as long as possible. There’s a lot going on with the subtleties of the game’s mechanics that may not be apparent at first, like the way that the enemies' heads pulsate. The bigger the enemy head is when killed, the larger the resulting explosion, which in turn takes out bullets and other enemies. There are a variety of unique Game Center leaderboards for time played, specific enemies killed, and even the number of tweets sharing high scores. Never has spamming my friends been so rewarding.
Playing Ziggurat can be kind of like trying to fall asleep at night--finding the most comfortable position can be a challenge. The controls are not broken at all; everything operates on fixed angles at 1:1 ratios, so tapping on the screen in one spot will always aim at that angle. Playing with one index finger can be effective but uncomfortable, flying across the bottom of the screen. Multiple fingers can provide more comfort, but demand more in the way of coordination. While an offset control scheme for the iPad was considered, according to Action Button's Tim Rogers, this led to iPad scores being much higher. The all-time high score on a private build belonged to an indie developer who scored 2700 by using 8 fingers keyboard-style on an iPad laying flat on a table.
Ziggurat is a game I have a lot of mixed feelings about. The music, art, and depth of gameplay are all fantastic, but I just never got all that comfortable with it. I will keep playing it, because I want to see more of it. The developer claims 9 hours of content – but no one will plausibly ever see anything beyond the first ten minutes. However, I just may forever never be completely satisfied with it.