ZiGGURAT, an endless survival shooter developed by Action Button Entertainment and published by Freshuu, is available from the app store. Featuring great pixel art, a challenging one-finger control scheme, and a hefty dose of difficulty, ZiGGURAT simultaneously frustrates and delights.
- Great pixel art and nice variety of alien types
- Chiptune soundtrack fit the art and gameplay styles
- Simple, one-finger controls
- GameCenter integration for leaderboards and achievements to earn
- Felt like we were fighting against the controls as much as against the aliens
- Difficulty may be a turn off for casual players
You play as the last soldier on Earth, fixed atop a ziggurat that is under siege by a variety of one-eyed alien cretins. Armed only with a plasma shotgun and as fragile as a dandelion, you must fire plasma balls at the relentless horde, destroying all comers and their bullets for as long as possible before contacting one or the other, which immediately ends your effort. There is no timer, no points, no health perks, no power-ups, no XP… nothing but you and your resolve. You’ll notice that enemy heads pulsate as they move. Hitting them with plasma balls when their heads are at their largest will initiate the biggest explosions, taking out nearby foes and buying you a few precious seconds. When you do die (and you’ll do so often), the number of enemies you killed is indicated as your score.
The overall difficulty makes for a short-lived experience unless you become adept at creating chain explosions or develop a knack for accurate targeting. Both can be a chore with either of the control options. By default, you slide your finger along the screen bottom from left to right to aim your weapon, with your finger position dictating whether your concentration is leftward, rightward, perpendicular, or anywhere in between. Holding your finger on-screen will also cause your next round of ammo to fluctuate in size, with larger blobs flying straighter and faster. The alternative control method uses the now-familiar slingshot control, requiring you to drag backward from your soldier to create power and aim your weapon. Though we struggled with both, the default setup was superior and an aiming line can be toggled from the settings menu for further assistance.
The pixel art graphics are terrific, and enemy types and behaviors vary nicely from crawling creeping mountain climbers to hovering baddies to airborne speedsters, with the occasional huge alien thrown into the mix. The mountain you stand atop is above the clouds, with a series of additional mountaintops visible in the background amid a clear, sunny sky, oddly enough. The chiptune soundtrack is engaging and fierce, setting the action-oriented mood nicely. Controls are simple to grasp but tough to master. The high score chase gives the game good replay value and GameCenter integration allows for a few leaderboards and achievements to earn. A universal app for $0.99, ZiGGURAT is a solid, 4-Dimple stud.