You are the last human alive. It’s time to make your last stand against the alien scum that have annihilated the rest of your species. In the end, though, only one thing is for sure: you will die. Those few sentences pretty much sum up what Ziggurat, a new iOS shooter from Action Button games, is all about.
Ziggurat is plainly inspired by the games of yesteryear. The 16 bit graphics ooze charm, even making me – a person who wasn’t even alive to experience these ‘retro games’ – feel nostalgic. The visuals are vibrant and crisp, with the brazen use of colour meaning this shooter certainly doesn't look stale. The real show-stopper though has to be the music. The chip tune soundtrack changes and develops as your game progresses. It fits the look and tone of the game perfectly, not to mention the fact that it simply sounds brilliant. Personally I am a sucker for chip tunes, but in all honesty, who doesn’t want to battle to the bitter end while listening to a funky chip tune beat?
Moving on to the gameplay side of things I am pleased to report that Ziggurat controls well. I have said it before, and I’ll say it again, when it comes to iOS games simple control schemes are generally the best. Ziggurat’s controls couldn’t be simpler; you slide your finger along the bottom of the screen to aim. While you do this a shot will be charging up, then you simply release your finger to fire. If you find this too much like hard work, there's an alternative control scheme available which functions in the same vein as Angry Birds, where you use your finger to pull back and then ‘slingshot’ the bullets at enemies.
At a glance Ziggurat may appear simple, but actually it’s surprisingly deep. To succeed you will need to use tactics. You must learn when to kill the different enemy types; as they all have specific movement patterns and weaknesses. You'll also have to pick and time your shots carefully, for example shooting an alien when its eye is inflated will result in a huge explosion that kills surrounding aliens. Little elements like this all mean that only the most skilled players will survive beyond the 100 kill mark – something that I rarely achieved. Perhaps the most interesting feature of Ziggurat is that the game lacks any kind of HUD. This means that when you're playing you'll be completely focused on the task at hand: survival. You won’t be distracted by the likes of a health bar or a kill counter, and trust me when I say that’s a good thing, because this game requires your full attention.
Ziggurat will cost you $0.99 in the US and £0.69 in the UK. This is a fair price as Ziggurat is essentially a game that will never end. If you're someone who enjoys setting and beating high scores – and as long as you can get over just how difficult this game is - then you’ll certainly find yourself coming back for more, and more, and more.
This review is based on the launch copy of Ziggurat, provided by the developer and downloaded via the App Store.