06th Aug2018

‘Tanzia’ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Britt Roberts

tanzia-screen

Although Tanzia is a game that initially charms with its cute characters, vibrant colours, joyful sound track and strong introduction sequence, the actual playing of the game feels like a HD re-master of a PS2 game with floaty, weightless controls and repetitive game play that unfortunately takes away too much fun from the title to make it a recommended purchase.

As an action / RPG game, Tanzia attempts to balance spell-based combat with exploration of the game world, complete with a levelling up system. Initially starting off in your Akazi village, the issues that follow the game through are immediately apparent. Movement doesn’t feel natural, with the main character feeling like they are gliding across the terrain. There’s also no mini-map in the game, so whenever a character informs you that you need to speak to someone or go somewhere specific, you have no idea where they are, luckily there’s a button that highlights all characters in your field of vision and allows you to scroll through, showing their names. The reasoning behind the lack of a map or any visual clues as to where your objective is could be to give a more ‘open’ sense to the player in the game world, removing the hand-holding, but as the game world is relatively empty beyond key areas, it’s not particularly fun or rewarding to go off the beaten path (there are invisible carriers in most areas and the slightly glitchy physics mean that you can walk / jump up most mountains and steep surfaces to find nothing at the top of them, making it hard to see what could be a secret area and what parts you really shouldn’t be able to reach) and so it seems that the game would be best treated as a more linear adventure in order to keep the narrative moving more steadily.

[Addendum (as per the developers): You can summon the map by using the "quest journal" button on the pause menu. That's explained early on during the tutorial (you can browse all the tutorial pages if you go to the "?" button on the pause menu). The map tells you exactly where to go and who to talk to in most cases (in some quests you only get told about a general area).]

The voice work is fantastic, with wonderfully drawn artwork accompanying the elder shaman’s rich tones as more and more memories come to light for Tanzia as he traipses across the land to ultimately defeat the skeleton king whilst finding what fate befell his grandfather after he left the tribe. Tanzia also features great music that alters according to the area that you are currently in which adds to the atmosphere of the game, never feeling out of place. Combat in the game though, feels one-dimensional, being a shaman (as you are told by the trainer at the start of the game), you should never really rely on melee attacks. This means that all enemies are best treated with ranged attacks from the spells that you learn / purchase throughout the game. Whilst there are quite a number of spells to learn, for me it boiled down to casting a fireball spell to attack an enemy (or a group of enemies) and then backing away whilst casting slowing / paralysing spells interspersed with more fireballs. This was pretty much what happened for each encounter. The enemies also never stop chasing you when antagonised, unless you completely leave the area, which can be irritating.

Your mana doesn’t automatically replenish, although it does run out quickly, so you end up hanging around totems to refill your mana, or returning to the Akazi village where it does refresh. There’s the option of storing up some mana vials to take out into the wilderness with you so you can make some progress but as you can only hold a small limited amount of them (until you reach the Turtle Beach area), you can’t even grind to stack them up – though eventually every enemy you kill gives you enough gold to buy around 2 or 3 small potions, this all adds up to needing to back-track quite a lot.

Tanzia feels a bit light in both areas that it goes for, the combat feels repetitious whilst the RPG elements and crafting are so light that you can’t really lose yourself in it too much. The story itself is well-presented and the characters in the game are richly-drawn and have their own personalities which shine through in the strong writing, however the game play issues are the real stumbling block for me and I can’t really see myself working through to the end of the game anytime soon.

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