Cheap Thrills: ZortchThe Dark Herald
It’s $5.00 on Steam go buy it.
You want more of a reason than that? Okay, fair enough.
Zortch is the kind of retro-90s FPS that I have serious trouble resisting and generally don’t. Yes, I’ve been repeatedly burned by shovelware but this ain’t that.
I’m a little late to the Zortch party myself. I heard plenty of good things about it but I didn’t act on it because I didn’t want to. That is nowhere near the worst mistake of my life but it was definitely a mistake.
This thing is honestly good.
Zortch is by a company or person named Mutant Leg. I figured this going to be another game built on the Unity engine with stock assets but really well-designed levels, hence the hype.
Nope, absolutely not. No current version of Unity would list as the system requirements:
Minimum: Win XP, 32-bit 1GB RAM, 1.5 Ghz CPU
Recommended: Anything better
No, I didn’t make that up. This thing will run on a single core CPU.
As near as I can tell Mutant Leg wrote his own custom game engine.
This game has a consistent and unique-ish art style, runs as smoothly as butter on a 90-degree day, and even has a decent sound design. More importantly, Zortch has genuine character.
A game like this needs to be measured against its peers, in this case. It’s better than BoltGun but not as good as Dusk.
The levels are indeed well designed and there are twenty of them, five of them are boss levels which is two more bosses than you should have for five bucks. You end the levels by hitting a Duke button and I loved that. There are plenty of late 90s, and early 2000s game physics. Big hint if you see a basketball hoop it is always worth your time in this kind of game to hunt around for a basketball. Take the dunk and enjoy your secret.
There are plenty of secrets in this game and they are either weapons or some kind of powerup—health, armor, or being invisible for a while.
You do have a disembodied friend helping you out. That’s always nice.
Darklings: Is there a plot?
Dark Herald: Enough of a one.
Zortch Maxinus is a career slacker who falls for an alien tourist trap scheme. It’s a cheap trip to a five-star resort but of course, the resort is actually restaurant and Zortch’s brains are supposed to be the main course.
There are horror elements but there is plenty of humor too. When you enter an open arena you will see gigantic horseshoe style magnets in the distance, doubtless to aid in the capture of sapient lunch. You also get to shoot up their restaurant because you have to in games like this. Spider mine robots will try to kamikaze you, but you can distract them by throwing a soccer ball. It’s the little things like that, that make a game special.
There is about 30 different enemies that were clearly inspired by Wolfenstein 3d, Doom, and Quake. There is one infuriating enemy creature that keeps multiplying when you kill it. Hint: Use the flame thrower, It won’t help but at least it’s fun. That said it’s not easy, the game keeps up the pressure on you right to the end. Sure the low-level enemies become easy but there are so many of them they will deplete your ammo when you most need it.
You do need to look for the secrets if you’re going to get to the end.
It isn’t a huge game, it only took me 4 hours to beat it but it is a fun one.
Like I said, it’s five dollars on Steam, go buy it.
It’s a cheap thrill.