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Game Info:

Gift of Parthax
Developed By: Foldergeist Studios
Published By: 1C Entertainment
Released: Sep 12, 2018
Available On: Linux, macOS, Windows
Genre: Action
ESRB Rating: T for Teen: Violence, Blood, Use of Tobacco
Number of Players: Single-player
Price: $9.99
(Humble Store Link)

Thank you 1C Entertainment for sending us a review code!

The wonders of magic are a thing that many people take interest in. I’ve had my fair share of moments pretending I was some kind of wizard, shooting lightning bolts out of my hands, or summoning creatures to fight for me. Unfortunately, the only magic that exists in this world is the magic of your imagination, to take us away from our lives, even if it’s just for a moment.

Gift of Parthax is a top-down 2D action-arena game where you engage in wizardry war against monsters and myths, and sometimes against other wizards too. The game focuses on spell-casting and the mystic arts to aid you in gladiatorial combat instead of the typical sword and shield. The playable character goes by the name of Arif (don’t ask me how to pronounce that) who is forced to fight for his freedom, thanks to the dastardly Parthax. Not only that, but Arif must also find a way to save his friend, Veleus, who was cursed with an illness by the titular character. With only his smarts and mystical prowess to back him up, Arif must brave the mythical creatures that are also fighting for their own freedom.

Utilizing pixels and sprites, reminiscent of Sierra Entertainment's point-and-click adventure games, it does look rather clean and has an appeal to those who appreciate retro-styled graphics. The characters may not be expressive, but are distinct and I can tell what each enemy and NPC is supposed to be. The aesthetics of Gift of Parthax are of the ancient and mystical kind and everything looks like it would belong in such a place. Overall, the graphics do what they were intended to do.

As Gift of Parthax only takes place in a select amount of areas, you’ll get friendly with the scenery pretty quickly. After an optional tutorial, Gift of Parthax sends you to a hub area where there are ways to prepare you for the battles that await. You can test your spells on the dummy in the rest area, buy runes and potions from the merchant, or speak to the gatekeeper to enter the arena. The menu grants access to your spells; up to four standard spells and one arch-spell can be equipped at one time.

Gift of Parthax
Highlights:

Strong Points: Great music and sound effects; lots of flexibility in your playstyle
Weak Points: Very repetitive; controls are clunky with no option to remap; poor job in explaining the mechanics
Moral Warnings: Use of magic; all kinds of mythical creatures from slimes, to fire demons, dragons, and many more; blood stains can be seen in the final arena and blood-based magic can be used by yourself and other mages 

The spells consist of a wide variety of abilities and elements. You have the option to make Arif a pyromancer, geomancer, cryomancer, arcanist, or a mix of all the above. Each category has its own variety of spells such as projectiles, summons, and traps. Some spells even mix the elements, such as the magma shot that does both fire and earth damage. Your spells depend on how much mana you have, which can regenerate over time, or with the consumption of a mana potion, increase your mana regeneration. Spells can be swapped around and enhanced with runes that can grant a variety of effects. Each spell can have up to four runes equipped to it at a time, and runes can be stacked for greater effects.

You first start off with a simple fireball spell, but at the end of a successful bout, a new spell is learned, which you can equip through the spellbook located at the lower end of your user interface. Knowledge is also gained, which increases your power, how much damage can be taken, and the max amount of mana at your disposal. If a challenge is failed, half the amount of money on hand is forfeit. However, on the hardcore difficulty setting, if you happen to die even once, you must start from the very beginning. Difficulty starts off very simple, but ramps up quickly so make sure you are prepared adequately.

Even with the large amount of spells and the versatility in your loadout, in an ironic sense, the controls are pretty limited. There aren't a whole lot of keys or buttons used in Gift of Parthax, so it actually is rather strange that there is no way to actually remap or rebind the keys or controls. You have your standard WASD or left analog stick to move, the 1-4 keys, scroll wheel, or bumpers to select your spell, the left mouse click or right trigger to attack, mouse or right analog stick to aim, and the left shift key or left trigger to dash. Q/E keys or X/Y buttons are to consume your health and mana potions. As you can tell, there is a lot of empty space, and I would have really liked the ability to move things around. Pressing the left shift key for a crucial skill is rather uncomfortable for me to do constantly and would have preferred to have it as the space bar.

Going back to my earlier statement of there being a few amount of areas, this also causes Gift of Parthax to become very repetitive. You go into an arena, fight some waves, go into the rest area, and then back into the arena when you’re ready to do so. This happens from the beginning of the game right until the credits. With very few and similar enemy types, arenas mostly having the aesthetics being the only major difference, and the best strategy for most battles consisting of “circle around the outer parts of the arena until everything is dead,” the game gets old very fast. Sometimes there are bosses to mix things up, but even so, the bosses even feel similar.

Gift of Parthax
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 67%
Gameplay - 10.5/20
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 10/10
Stability - 4/5
Controls - 2/5

Morality Score - 80%
Violence - 6.5/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 3.5/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

The repetitive nature of the game is not helped by the tutorial, as it does a poor job explaining the game's mechanics. (Not that I finished the tutorial mind you—because I couldn’t even figure out how to complete the dang thing!) I had to discover anything that wasn’t blatantly obvious via trial and error. Some things are explained in the control options, but other stuff like using the arch-spell and what knowledge does, and even the fact that there are multiple endings due to choices you make in boss battles, I had to find all of this out myself or from guides outside of the game. Using either keyboard & mouse or controller can host its own set of problems. If I happen to use keyboard & mouse, interacting with non-player characters can be deceptively difficult as you have to click a rather small section of their character. With controllers, talking to a NPC is way easier, but aiming isn’t nearly as accurate. That in itself can be frustrating as there are some enemies that are pretty hard to hit. Meanwhile, Arif is actually pretty easy to take hits with the character's hitbox being larger than it appears.

In all honesty, the only thing that made me complete this game was the excellent soundtrack and sound design. Each piece can invoke both a sense of mystery and intensity. Unlike the graphical style, the music takes a more modern orchestrated approach. The sound effects have a boom to them and when mixed with the engaging music, it really does a great job of making you feel like a wizard. I see that the soundtrack was praised enough for it to be free DLC if you choose to listen to it on the road.

In the case that you missed it, there is a lot of magic usage within the game. Enemies consist of a wide variety of mythical creatures and monsters. There are your typical slimes, dragons, and stone creatures seen in every fantasy-based game, some demon-looking creatures, ice golems, and of course other wizards. In the final area, blood stains can also be seen, and some mages (including Arif) can use blood-based magic, but no characters actually bleed due to violence.

In the beginning, I was having quite some fun with Gift of Parthax, but with its large amount of issues, some which are really grating on the mind, and the lack of explaining crucial mechanics, at the end I was simply glad to be done once Parthax took a dirt nap, even if it only lasted about 5 hours. The most unfortunate thing about Gift of Parthax is that it isn’t even a bad game, it’s a disappointing one. A great soundtrack, art style, and the feeling of being a wizard gets bogged down by a lack of focus and extreme repetition that would make an assembly worker do a double take. If you buy Gift of Parthax, make sure you know exactly what you are getting into with this one.

About the Author

Cinque Pierre

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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