It was nineteen years ago that the Dragon Goddess Mynia descended from the heavens to seek vengeance on the humans and demons inhabiting the world of Zenith. For too long they had hunted and killed her children for not only their magical properties but for sport, an act which had enraged her to the point of mass genocide in an effort to return the Zenith to her own kind. Her night of terror might have succeeded if not for the activation of an ancient orb of immense power however, which not only destroyed Mynia but the entire kingdom of Paltien as well. Now, after years of relative peace between the peoples, demons and magical beings of Zenith alike, the world is about to face decimation once again. With two sellswords (swords for hire) seemingly caught in the middle, will Dain and Alija join the people of Zenith in an effort to fight off the demon hordes, or fall to temptation and rule over the living with an iron fist? The choice, quite literally, is in your hands.
Zenith Chronicles is the first release from Mango Drop Games and is a bishoujo-esque title that gives you both an in-depth storyline along with a plethora of sidescroller action to test your mettle. You assume the role of the wandering sellsword Dain who, along with his female companion Alija, offer up their unique skills to any who will pay a pretty penny to see their troubles resolved. This is made quite a bit easier for our eager young duo thanks to Dain’s ability to turn into a dragon, who then takes a rider into battle as they assault their foes with fire breath and magical spells alike. It’s during these missions that you take the helm and use your sidescrolling skills to defeat your enemies, for which you gain a varying amount of experience depending on your performance. This allows you to unlock special abilities (including moving faster, casting stronger spells and absorbing life), so you can more or less customize your destructive priorities as you see fit. But personalized fighting techniques and strategies are not the only types of choices you have to make, as a number of decisions throughout the game allow you to take not only differing paths, but also affect the women whom you get to interact and ride with into battle. It’s much like you would expect from a general RPG, but the most surprising aspect isn’t how addictive the missions can be, but how well the story is actually structured.
As is usually the case, things start out innocently enough as Dain and Alija take a fairly simple job of fighting back some pesky monsters that are terrorizing a local kingdom, but everything quickly spirals out of control from there. As you get swept up into a battle of good versus evil, you have to decide which side you want to take as your decisions shape the type of man you slowly become. On one side you fight for the humans, picking up Lyssa Silverlock, an officer in the Avengers of Paltien, as you endeavor to stop the demons from claiming the now deserted lands of Paltien for their own in their larger conquest for human lands. On the other side you’re joined by Meredith, an evil demon temptress who wants you to join her fellow kind to conquer the lands of the humans in an effort to claim rule over your own kingdom. Depending on your choice and preference for female rider, you can achieve one of nine different endings, all of which have drastically different consequences—running the gambit full gambit of joyous and twisted conclusions.
The key here is that, after finishing off the two separate storylines available, an unexpected thing happened. What looked to be a third retelling of the general storyline actually ended up being a continuation of the other two, bringing together a number of open plot points that seemed to be heading nowhere while giving us a much more intricately weaved storyline then we were first led to believe. It’s here that not only the sidescroller action but the storyline both become intriguing and satisfying elements of Zenith Chronicles and gives us a well-rounded game on all fronts.
While Zenith Chronicles may be somewhat limited in its gameplay scope, the challenging missions and unexpectedly deep storyline were a welcome change of pace. I haven’t played many sidescroller games like this, but the combination of a bishoujo style visual novel with an addictive, if not incredibly difficult battle system (for me anyway), make this a title worth picking up.
While Zenith Chronicles does include a number of innuendo laden dialogues, there’s little actual sexual content aside from a few scantily clad scenes.
Zenith Chronicles can be purchased directly from Mango Drop Games as well as from a number of other interent outlets. Check the site link for more details if you're interested.