Gift of Parthax Review
Developer: Foldergeist StudiosEvery so often a game appears with an intriguing and yet familiar concept, it arrives without much fanfare and is a pleasant surprise. Gift of Parthax is one such title, it’s a top down, wizard arena fighter and reminds me of such classics like Midway’s Smash TV and Gauntlet by Atari. There’s a lot of elements of these two games which the title embodies and refines, it’s a fun title but flawed. One of the aspects that Gift of Parthax really distinguishes itself in is the visual element and it’s sound design. Both of these elements are impressive and really help craft a sense of the world environment related to the game narrative.
The narrative which encapsulates the game is fairly standard fantasy fare. In the fictional kingdom of Duredyll, a land which is inhabited by both magic and no-magic users, a civil war has broken out between the two groups. The protagonist of the story, a young wizard named Arif, tries to escape this war with his friend Veleus.
Unfortunately they find themselves captured by the agents of Duredyll and are incarcerated and thrown into the dark dungeons with all the other mages who attempted to flee the war as well. Veleus is then sentenced to fight to the death in wizard gladiatorial match which is held in the grand arena of Atixa. During this match he sustains mortal injuries and ends up in a critical condition. Word of this reaches our hero Arif and he breaks out of prison and enters the arena, determined to destroy any foes he encounters and become champion. As champion, he will receive the ‘Champions Gift’ which should enable him to save his friend. The story is told in a rather engaging style in an introductory notebook with some detailed sketches depicting key scenes.
The gameplay of Parthax consists of defeating increasingly difficult arena matches using your magical abilities. This, in essence plays very much like a top down shooter, with a variety of projectile spells to learn and equip as well as traps to ensnare your enemies. There are five different arenas which are named after the seasons in the year : Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter and Blood Moon. Each season consists of four challenge matches to beat and each match has varying numbers of enemy waves. Beat all the waves and the match is won. When you beat the four matches of the season and you will move on to fight the boss of that arena. Once the boss is defeated you move onto the next seasons series of arena’s and repeat the process.
There’s a progression system which offers the ability to learn new spells after you win a match. There are many available spell types, which focus on different elements of nature : Earth, Fire, Arcane, Frost and Blood / Light. You begin with nothing but a weak fireball attack, but soon you will be casting spike traps, meteors and lighting attacks. The progression in the game feels fluid and gives the player an amount of choice with regard to the methods of attack they wish to concentrate on during the matches.
Spells are purchased from money, which is dropped in the arena by fallen enemies. This currency can be used to also buy health potions and runes from the local shop you visit between matches. Runes are used to further augment your spells in various ways, such as turning single shot projectiles into multi shot projectiles, extending the duration of how long your summoned creature appears and making your traps more powerful.
There are also more powerful spells on offer, these are called ‘Archspells’ and can be collected after defeating the seasons boss. Before you can use these spells, they must be charged, a process which takes place as you defeat your enemies in the arena. Once enough enemies are killed, they can be used to truly devastating effect. These spells can not be augmented by runes unlike your ordinary spells however.
The game is incredible beautiful at times with it’s detailed and inspiring pixel art, it’s clear a lot of design and attention has been placed on this title by it’s designers. The characters, monsters, arena environments, spell effects and even in the loading screens show thematic consistency and overall the game looks the part. There’s a nice quirky feel to the art design which endears itself to the player and it’s always clear as to what is being depicted on screen.
Dramatic background music plays as you fight the seemingly never ending hordes of monsters and there’s a wonderful thematic track as you wander through the hub. At times however the audio effects can be very lacking, the powerful lightning bolt spell is almost silent which is fairly anti-climatic. I would have expected a might crack as the skies opened and the force of Zeus himself came to earth to split your enemies in two. Greater attention to the sound effects would have really brought the feel of the quality of the game to an impressive standard.
This is a fantastically fun game which really can get the adrenaline pumping. I love these kind of gaming experiences, with the tight arenas forcing you to think fast and move even faster as waves of enemies approach you. There’s elements of mental strategy needed as your progress through the seasons and a feeling of freedom as you purchase spells and choose which runes to augment them with. With a little polish, this game could have been something truly special but even though it is a little rough around the edges, I still recommend it.
This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.