Zenzizenzic is a fun and engaging Twin-Stick Bullet Hell experience that supports local co-op for two players. Unfortunately, the game has a few glaring issues. The game music that’s played is fine, but pretty quickly I found myself turning the music off, so that I could listen to my own music in the background. Two other features you should be aware of are the Steam Leaderboards and it possesses 210 Steam Achievements. These two factors alone do increase the replay value of the game tremendously.

When you first start Zenzizenzic, you are greeted with the option of playing in Classic or Macro. The difference between these two modes is that Classic is a five-level structured design, while Macro is a more open-world and Roguelike experience. However, I didn’t find Macro to be very engaging or interesting. I was moving my ship through empty white areas, with enemies being far and few between, and more than once I found a shop early on without having any points to spend in the shop due to the lack of enemies. The best experience that can be found for Zenzizenzic will be in Classic.

The Classic mode of Zenzizenzic consists of Regular, Boss Training, Bonus Training, and Gauntlet. Gauntlet is a locked mode, and you’ll have to play the game in order to unlock it. But what Gauntlet does is allow you to play through all five missions back to back without stopping. Considering how much of this game has to be unlocked by spending the points you earn from playing, this feature will be the one that will need to be unlocked last.

All levels have three degrees of difficulty, Normal, Hard, and Very Hard. I found the differences between these levels of difficulty to be great and well balanced. Normal and Hard are not frustrating at all. However, I plan on spending more time on getting better with Very Hard, as it proved to be too difficult for me. One important thing to note when a player loses a life is that he can buy his life back by spending 500K points. Obviously, this effects your score at the end of the level, but will force the player to play a little strategic when choosing to use or not use this feature.

The alternate weapons of Zenzizenzic consists of are the Laser, which is a powerful offensive weapon that passes through enemies and shields, but forces your ship to remain in a fixed position while firing. Missiles behave like seekers, rapidly deploying to assault your enemies. Charge Shot is used by holding the fire button to charge and then releasing when you are ready. The shot creates a hard blast that can be used as a protective barrier to hide behind, as it slowly progresses forward, annihilating bullets and enemies it passes through. Eventually, it will explode and produce a shockwave. Laser Pods will pass through multiple enemies when fired and will attack the closest enemy first. The player must hold down the fire button in order to fire multiple laser beams at once. Other abilities include the Time Jump, which is a defensive mechanic that allows you to relocate easily, and Black Hole, which produces a shockwave that destroys bullets, much like the Charge Shot. Only two of these abilities can be taken at one time, with Laser and Missiles being the weapons you start with. The player will have to unlock the other weapons by spending points that are earned from playing the game.

Upgrades can be found while playing the levels. The upgrades are for the basic fire weapon and shields, and randomly appear after enemies are destroyed and float across the board. You’ll have to navigate and dodge bullets and enemies in order to collect these upgrades. I did find one glaring problem with the shields: As I obtained more and more shields, they began overlapping one another and increased the size of their radius. I didn’t like this behavior because, with this being a Bullet Hell-style game, you have to pass through some very tight spaces between bullets that are only far enough for the ship to barely pass through. Obviously, I lost my shields to no fault of my own. This is just pointless and annoying — I felt like I was being punished for playing well. This caused me to start picking up only one shield at the time, because why be bothered grabbing more than one, you’ll just use them needlessly.

Each level in Zenzizenzic is designed with its own enemies and color schemes. As far as this design approach goes, I really loved level 3 the most. Level 5 feels a bit lazy with its black and white approach. When it boils down to how each level plays, level 1 is designed the best. Each level is unique and has its own bonus stage. Level 5 is very unforgiving and you will use everything you learned from all the other levels to beat it. The bonus stages are tight, narrow passages that the player will have to navigate their ship through in order to complete. All of level 5 is a mix of bonus stage and level design, which makes it incredibly challenging.

I did manage to break Zenzizenzic and encounter some problems that really impacted my time with the game. Once, the stage completely disappeared, while my missiles traveled off-screen at another particular instance. They are relatively small issues, but are still something to consider when you are dropping $10 on a game, and that is very disappointing.

VERDICT

If I hadn’t discovered so many problems and issues while playing Zenzizenzic, it would have earned a higher score. The game is available on Steam for $9.99, however I would advise waiting for a 50% off sale before purchasing.

Original Author: Travis Patterson