Zenonia Hands on Impressions – An iDevice Milestone

zenonia_preview1Zenonia, created and published by Gamevil, makes me proud to be a Korean. With their headquarters in Seoul, Korea, they helped solidify both the iPhone and iTouch as serious handheld gaming devices with their masterful port of Baseball Superstars 2009. They are seeking to set the standard of excellence in another fledgling iDevice genre: RPGs.

Even in this alpha build state, Zenonia is shaping up to be the RPG that your iDevice has been waiting for. It has amazing graphics and sound. Although cartoonish, it fits the game. Clocking in a few good solid hours in it has me convinced of its quality. Simply put, Zenonia will shame the other games within the RPG genre and even show up many others outside of this genre.

zenonia_preview2It’s unfortunate that my understanding of the Korean language isn’t as advanced as my taste for Korean food because the game is still undergoing translation. Despite this, the story and decisions made will be a huge impact as to the progression of the game.

Before you begin the game, you choose between three character classes for the protagonist, Regrett, to embody: the paladin, the assassin, and the warrior. Each class can equip their own type of weapons and armor and helps with the replayability factor. Also, as you progress in the game, you will be faced with a variety of choices that will determine if you follow the path of light or the path of darkness.

In a practical way, the option of 3 character classes and a morality meter that changes the game means that Zenonia can be played multiple times with different outcomes. It promises multiple gaming experiences with each run through.

zenonia_preview3The beauty, though, of Zenonia comes with the actual gameplay. I know much has been said in comparing Zenonia with The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past… and while The Legend of Zelda is an amazing game and a true classic in every sense of the word, it is not a true RPG.

Zenonia plays more like another classic SNES game, The Secret of Mana. The onscreen virtual control pad is sufficient to handle the game. It is easy to navigate and having one button as both the action button and the attack button works well. Zenonia has the feel of Zelda, running around and actively hacking and slashing your opponents, but like a true RPG should have, there is a leveling up system.

Leveling up occurs in two areas, status and skill. You are given a certain amount of points to upgrade your strength, agility, constitution, or spirit level. You are also able to upgrade your active and passive skills. The active skills can be assigned one of the four empty spots on your menu bar. The end result will be a character that matches your playing style.

zenonia_preview4On top of all this, there is a hunger meter and equipment fatigue to worry about. As you continue on your travels, your hunger meter decreases… which means you get more hungry. You have to eat the various food items your enemies drop. Also, both your weapon and your shield experiences the decrease of durability. After significant usage, you need to search or buy more. There are options to fix your equipment at shops, so keep a close eye on the durability level.

There may be the temptation to be a pack-rat and just store as much equipment as possible. This is mitigated by the fact that there is a limit to ho much you can carry. This limit is directly related to how strong you are. The stronger you are the more you can carry. If you go over the threshold, your movement will be severely hindered.

With the ability to save where ever you are and three slots to do so, the mobility of this game becomes a non-issue. Play for five minutes, save the game, and then get out of that bathroom and back to work.

zenonia_preview5All this helps to make Zenonia the most, in my opinion, the best RPG currently slated for the iDevice. It is a full gaming experience with over 40 hours promised. It has features and mechanisms found in other RPGs. The virtual gamepad makes playing a breeze.

To put all of this succinctly: When the game comes out, GET IT.

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