ZentiaTour:Have Fire Monkey, Will Travel
By Jonathan (Ardua) Doyle, OnRPG Journalist
In a word, this game is cute. In several words, because "cute" doesn't quite tell you what you need to know about anything, Zentia is a quick, easy and visually pleasing distraction. Why "cute" for the description? Well from the opening cinematic to the character selection to the tutorial region, it simply is the best descriptor. I must admit most of the time I was unsure why I was doing any given quest beyond the fact that some short guy or guy in a dress insisted I should. Not all is lost though. The game, and it is a game outside my normal experience, lends itself to quick play. Pick it up, knock out a few quests of varying difficulty and put it down. At least that's how I would approach it. Children however may well eat this up. Your avatar is even a child of sorts and there is a casual ease in picking up a quest, following it to its conclusion and getting your reward.
Quests and tools come quiet easily through the Zentia tutorial area and into the Serene City proper. I had some trouble getting used to the static camera view and so opted to swing it around as I felt necessary. Click on a location and off you. Need to get somewhere further afield? Well then you should ask your omniscient pet.
Very quickly you are presented with an egg, mine hatched a cat. No I have no idea why I got a cat from an egg, must have something to do with the fact that it knows the location of everything. Your pet is your helper in all things, but most importantly in travel. If there is underlined text in any quest, click and hit the big friendly button on your pets skill bar and it will autopath you. No more following of the magic yellow arrows for you... well that's not true you still follow the arrows but the magic egg animal will do it all for you. Not to be out-done, Mulberry Village (your starting area) will soon give you a donkey to make the travel even faster, also from an egg.
Skills are responsive, aggro in the tutorial is typically a non issue and lets you get used to your various abilities without eating dirt every time you wander into an unpleasant area. Certainly at this stage in the beta process I have no complaints about the gameplay. Everything was stable and enjoyable on that front.
Visuals and Style
Here is where I am in two minds about Zentia. Visually the game is very appealing. My little fire-mage certainly could break out pretty little flame effects and every so often I'd come across pretty sights and enjoy the eastern vibes. Everything feels like it should for the setting presented. My problem comes in towards the end of the tutorial when you are taken on a flying cloud ride to the Serene City. I was at first very glad to have a little exposition. Helping Mulberry Village was enjoyable but I never really knew why I was doing any of it, so some explanation was more than welcome. Up until the moment the little fat cloud taxi man started talking well... like a taxi man. Little magical Eastern Myth fat cloud men should not be telling me to kick ass and that they will catch me on the flip side. Then again maybe I'm taking it all a little too seriously. What I have seen of Zentia is coherent in its own way, even if the text has been given an unfortunate western spin.
Wherein Ardy is impressed
I can't be all negative on the game. Even if my first impression is one of "cute" there were still things that I had not seen before. If you move around many games or even review many, new things are always a pleasure. Of course I know I haven't seen it all so what I may find new and thus good could be old hat to some of you. First up in Zentia was a tool handed out to all players that would allow them to solicit help from the player base if ever they became stuck on a quest. Having the ability to reward other people for coming to help you where you are stuck is certainly clever and I imagine it will help foster a close game population in the future.
The second thing that popped out at me as clever was the option not to simply give over my various loot bits to a vendor but to peddle them myself. Granted, when push comes to shove, if you need inventory space, heading to the vendor will likely be your primary means of getting cash and unloading your burden. Still the ability to pop up my own little stall filled with items I have come across at prices I have chosen really pleased me. Again this strikes me as something that will bring people together.I was not however impressed by the vanity clothing items I came across. I'm having enough trouble with the cute, you don't need to make me look like a cross dresser.
Zentia isn't the game for me, but I never set out thinking it would be. That said however, I can see why it would be the game of choice for many people. It's clean visuals, clearly explained quests and multitude of class options means that if you aren't sticking your kids on it (or don't have any... I don't suggest borrowing any) it can be quite a pleasant distraction in another window. Set your auto path and go back to writing that serious mail in serious world before popping back to the world of Zentia to set your fire monkey on some deserving bad guys. Ardy says give it a look.
- Clean and quirky visual style.
- Easy to pick up and progress.
- Plenty of tools given to players.
- Unfortunately out of place "westernization"
- Certain to be too cute for many.
- No clear reason behind your quest initially.