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Timtoid avatar 3:51 PM on 04.18.2012  (server time)
Digging Into Dungeons Pt. 1.5: Zaga-33

By means of apology for being late on my first post of this series (as well as probably being tardy on the next- I've got a lot of cool stuff in the works!), I've decided to do an extra little spotlight on a weird but interesting indie sci-fi roguelike, known as Zaga-33.

Created by Michael Brough as a 7-Day Roguelike challenge, Zaga-33 takes the roguelike formula, strips it down to it's very core and runs with it's simplicity in a new direction. While most dungeon crawlers are about clearing each and every room of enemies for sweet, sweet loot, Zaga-33 encourages players to evade enemies rather than directly engage with them. Armed with a handful of quite smart and rather useful upgrades, randomized during each playthrough (similar in idea to the pills in The Binding Of Isaac), the player must navigate through each maze to reach the exit while avoiding or combating the collection of alien foes patrolling the map. The player must complete 25 levels and defeat the final boss in order to win.

This game is really addicting. The controls are simple, where everything can be done with the direction and number keys, and the gameplay is surprisingly deep. With the focus being on evasion and stealth, this game forces the player to try to outmaneuver or trick the AI into bypassing the player so they can proceed towards the goal. Often you may find yourself "juggling" the enemies by going around in circles in a safe area until an opportunity arises, or you can use special items to clear a path to the exit. Again, direct combat is not recommended. The game is turn-based, so it provides the player time to think about their actions and plot out the best path to success, but one wrong step could lead to a spot of bother, so control and planning are key. The outlandish visual style and ominous music really help drive the sci-fi feel of the game, a presentation that makes this unique title stand out from the rest of its kin.

I must say this is one of the most impressive and accessible roguelikes I've ever played, and direction it takes provides a fun and fresh experience that's absolutely worth trying out. It's available on PC and Mac for free on Brough's Blog, and it recently released on iOS for $0.99. It's great for coffee breaks and bus rides, so do yourself a favor and check it out.


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