Review: Tanzia (Switch)

Short, but rather sweet.

By Joshua A. Johnston. Posted 08/07/2018 08:00 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
grade/score info
1-Up Mushroom for...
Cool art design; intuitive combat system once you tweak it; endearing plot
Poison Mushroom for...
Some of the environments are a bit basic; default settings not ideal; short game with little replayability

MMORPGs are one of the most infectious, fun ways to play a game… except when other players ruin it. At its best, an MMO is a bonding experience between a group of players facing off against powerful foes. At its worst, just one person can ruin the entire experience. Tanzia is what it would be like if one played a bite-sized MMO with only one class and without other players. This game is a multiplatform title that is available on the PC (via Steam) as well as Switch. At the time of release, the Switch version retails for $19.99, as opposed to the $14.99 Steam version. Tanzia, at its core, is an RPG, with experience points, leveling up, and the ability to acquire new spells, potions, abilities, and equipment.

There is a bit of a learning curve to the controls, especially as the game doesn’t dwell long on them. Fortunately, there is an in-menu tutorial that reminds players where everything is. Even more helpfully, most of the controls can be customized. That customization is more than just useful: in this reviewer’s opinion, it’s the difference between making his game really frustrating and smooth to play. Tanzia uses a hotbar system much like your traditional MMO, and even allows for use of the Switch touch screen to deploy it. The default hotbar, however, is hard to use; you’re either left madly scrolling left or right with the L and R buttons or you’re pulling your hand from one side of the Switch or the other to touch the attacks. While a hotbar like this would work fine on PC (and was probably designed with the PC in mind), it’s a fail on Switch.

Fortunately, there’s a solution, although the game doesn’t advertise it. Inside the menu, there is an option to switch from a “classic” hotbar to a “quick” hotbar, which instead ties those attacks to the L or R buttons plus the A / B / X / Y buttons. This setting makes the game far easier to play, and should be the first thing a new player tweaks upon starting the game (players can also toy with other key bindings if they choose). And players will be using the hotbar a lot. The protagonist is a mage, with an array of elemental attacks and the ability to do some alchemy. If you’re into warriors or rogues, this isn’t going to be for you; melee attacks with the mage’s stick is, for the most part, an attack of last resort rather than an opening salvo. There is one way to temporarily apply more powerful melee attacks, but it’s not meant to be a staple of the gameplay.

Both the magic and alchemy systems work pretty well. Early magic is pretty simple, but later abilities up the ante by allowing for powerful area of effect attacks and even the ability to summon totems to fight by your side. The protagonist can also acquire potions that allow for a variety of status effects and other abilities, though the one players will be using the most is- no surprise here- those that replenish mana. When it’s all put together, late-game combat in particular is a lot of fun, circling around enemies and bombing them with attacks. Also, if something a player needs is not in the hotbar, it can be found in the menu, which helpfully pauses the action.

Plotwise, Tanzia is clever and even a little original, with the player taking up a quest on an island. Without spoiling the details, there are family connections, a great evil, and, as already mentioned, plenty of magic. Players will have a chance to journey to different places on the island, meeting new groups of people and picking up new sidequests. If there is a nit here, it’s that some of the groups in the game are not explained as deeply as they could be, which left this reviewer wishing there was more of the story to tell.

That relates to another downer in the game, which is its brevity. The world of Tanzia, including every sidequest, can be knocked out in less than 10 hours. That’s not bad for an indie game, but it’s definitely short for an RPG, and for one that retails for $20. The game doesn’t offer any rewards for completion and there isn’t a ton of replayability, so once it’s over, there’s a decent chance players won’t be coming back. It’s telling that this reviewer’s character was at Level 11 at the time of the final boss and won the battle handily.

On the production values front, the game is solid, if not spectacular. Art design is cool but there isn’t a ton of variation to the NPCs in the world, and some of the settings are a little low on the detail front. There is some voice acting in the game and it’s actually pretty good, but it’s not widespread. Likewise, there is some music and it’s okay, but there are also stretches of the game with just ambient sounds, and while that isn’t necessarily bad, it’s also a game that doesn’t have a ton of variety in the music department.

In looking at Tanzia as a whole, there’s no question that this game is a labor of love for the two principal developers, a fact most evident during the closing credits. It’s also a game that left this reviewer wishing there was more: more spells, more potions, more places to explore, and more plotline, both in terms of the characters already introduced and the wider world of the game. The endgame does hint that there may be more to come, but for now this appears to be it. Still, what is there now is a lot of fun, and if you’re looking for 10 or so hours of RPG goodness you could do a lot worse. Worth a look.

Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Log In 0 points Log in or register to grow your Ninja Score while interacting with our site.
Nintendojo's RSS Feeds

All Updates Podcast
News Comments
Like and follow usFacebookTwitter Friend Code Exchange + Game with Us Join the Team!