A link to the past.
Anyone who falls in love with Zenonia 5 will be unlikely to do so because of the storyline, unless they take extreme comfort from familiarity. It's built from every staple of the Asian RPG genre, blended seamlessly into one whole. A dark force threatens the land, headed up by a particularly unpleasant mastermind. Within moments of starting the game, love interests are splashed around with a thick brush. There's even a sort of cognitive amnesia effect running rampant in the hero's dreams.
Familiar too are the character archetypes, and all of the usual suspects are on parade here - the Wizard who favors long ranged mystical combat, the Berserker who likes to get up close and personal, the Mechanic who combines ranged fire with contraptions, and the sword-and-board Paladin. Fortunately, and while the game does depend on established genre tropes, the art and atmosphere of the world is extremely absorbing, even if the story is briskly narrated.
The quests that make up the story are pretty typical RPG fare, with plenty of objects to collect for absent-minded villagers, monsters to defeat and crafting materials to be gathered. While the quests may be rather generic, there's a huge quantity of them to work through and you'll soon be showered with objectives - as well as tasty loot dropped from the monsters. Combat is decent too, with a basic starter attack activated with a tap of the button and a point in the right direction.
Both quests and combat increases your experience meter, which allows you to select and upgrade new spells, as well as increase your defensive and offensive stats. Those improved spells cost a certain amount of your energy meter though, and once you've run out you'll need to wait for it to recharge. Thankfully, hitting a new level fills it up entirely which takes some of the sting out of the system in the early levels.
Something that is a little jarring about the game is that it's rather thin on tutorial, and assumes a large amount of prior knowledge. At the beginning of the game you'll gain a fairy combat companion, but without resorting to a wiki you'll have to experiment to discover that she levels up in tandem with you. You'll also need to work out how to convert a currency called Communion into magical stones, which can be placed in her inventory slots for a boost on the battlefield.
Beyond the generous if generic single-player story, there's a handful of extra content to spice things up. The Abyss is a dungeon you can enter for free once per day, battling against creatures in a time-limit race for loot. The Player-Versus-Player mode allows players to duke it out against each other in a quick arena brawl to the death. The raid mode, while not currently available, will allow groups of players to take on particularly challenging enemies together.
You'll likely have noted my use of "free once per day" in the paragraph above, and so we need to talk about the cash required to get the most out of this free game. Should you die in combat, you can resurrect for free but it will cost you 5% of your gold, 10% of your current experience bar, and take a 10% degradation bonus to your equipment.
If you want to revive without penalty, you can make use of your Origins of Life ability, although you only get a couple of charges at the start of a game, and you'll need to hit up the cash store for more of them. As mentioned, equipment degrades over time, and so you'll need to spend some game coins if you're to make repairs without buying gold. A little more worryingly, you can spend the game's store currency on increasing your skill points, pushing you some way ahead of the game's intended difficulty curve.
What matters though is that you can, for the most part, choose to simply ignore a great deal of the cash store, although we imagine that PVP will suffer for this shop, and hardened raid groups may be reluctant to take less affluent players with them into battle. Only time will tell on these fronts though, and while Zenonia 5 may not be the most original RPG to demand your attention, it is an exceptionally competent one that's packed with a surprising amount of content.
What's Hot:A huge number of quests, great artwork, and solid combat
What's Not:The story is a little sleepy, more tutorials are needed for the newcomer, and the cash store can only impact the non-story elements of the game.