Developer: Arcanity Inc.
Publisher: Arcanity Inc.
Platform: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Category: Role-Playing, Adventure & Action
Release Date: July 19, 2018 (EU & NA)
Arcanity, Alchemy and Adventure awaits!
For those who have been following Tanzia for quite some time, it is by no means a newly revealed title as much has been well-known about it, as far back as November 2016. It is however, a game that most of the gaming community don’t even release exist, even though it’s been playable thanks to Early Access on Steam since April of last year. Only, things may change in the coming weeks.
You see, while Tanzia is not an RPG on the same scale as Octopath Traveler, it is still an RPG game made with a whole lot of love from Arcanity Inc. that is bound to win over the majority of those who play it.
Having only received my review key earlier this week, Tanzia swiftly become my latest addiction and even though I did beat the main game after 8 and a half hours with, I have already started a new game, so that I could do a second playthrough at a much slower pace, in case there was anything I missed out on the first time around.
Still, I’m getting a bit ahead of myself though, so let’s talk about the story. The events of Tanzia take place on an island of the same name. Tanzia is the home of a race called the Akazi. With no interest in technology and wealth whatsoever, the Akazi pursued just one thing, wisdom.
Thanks to Arcanity and Alchemy, the possibilities were endless for the Akazi and just because humanity deemed them weak, it didn’t mean their race would go extinct any time soon. So, left to their own devices, the Akazi lived a life of peace, until the Skeleton King came along, seeking to claim Tanzia for his own.
The Akazi fought with everything they had, but one by one, the Akazi warriors would fall. Hope was not lost though as there was one Akazi who had become a master in the arts of Arcanity and in just one single blow, decades of preparation went out the window. The Akazi stood their ground and won, leaving the Skeleton King no other choice but to flee.
Once again, life was good and the Akazi hero known as the Great One, would go one to pioneer Acanity and Alchemy and pass on all that he had learned, to those who willing to learn from him. His greatest achievement though, would be a grandson that was a natural with Arcanity. So much so that one day, he could be just as skilled as his grandfather, if not more so.
The Skeleton King would not allow this however, as he has been diligently plotting his revenge. It may not have gone the way he wanted it to, but his wicked plan was enough to cause the Great One to send his grandson to be sent off to grow up on Volcano Island, before disappearing himself. With his rival gone and a good few years laters, once more the Skeleton King sets his sights on Tanzia and his efforts to claim the land as his own, begin again.
Went a bit more into detail there, than expected, but in fairness, it is a nice opening to a game and all of that information and more, is told to the player, via a series of comic-book like illustrations, complete with written text that is vocally spoken by a singular voice actor.
Naturally, where the story ends, gameplay begins with an older version of the grandson (whose name you can choose for yourself,) who has pretty much come of age and is ready to start uncovering the truth to his grandfather’s disappearance. After all, it’s not like his guardian/mentor Abenaki has been completely forthcoming over the last few years.
Right off the bat, when you start playing, first the game shows you what the controls are and then proceeds to put you through your paces by learning some, not via a tutorial, but by generally playing, whilst keeping to the very first area you will lay your eyes on, which is an Akazi village.
On the subject of controls though, the left analog stick is used for movement, with the right one allowing you to look around and can be clicked in to take advantage of auto run. Auto run will only send your character in one direction and can be deactivated by pressing the right stick in again, or moving the left stick in any direction. ZR can be used for targeting, with X allowing you to interact with people and objects and Y being your means of physically striking enemies.
Of course, B is your jump button, and for those interested, you can also interact with NPC’s, objects and enemies, by tapping on them, thanks to the Switch’s touch-screen. There is also a hotbar that supports touch-screen controls as well, or you can opt for pressing R and L to cycle through them, with ZR being used for hotbar use.
As for what the hotbar is, well, it’s a bar in which you can equip the spells and items you like to use a lot, to so that you can use them when you wish, provided they have cooled down, as opposed to hitting the + or – buttons to bring up the pause screen, and then navigating through menus and screens to get to the thing you want, each and every time you need to use something.
Your first 30 minutes of Tanzia will most likely comprise of learning to fight, use spells, accepting quests, brewing potions and fighting the local pink-coloured birds, called Akiris. You’ll also learn about mana and health. If your life depletes completely, you’re slain and you can only use magical spells, as long as you have mana.
Thankfully, there are potions that can restore these things and even do things like turn you invisible for 10 seconds, double the damage you deal and even turn your character into a bear, but that’s all well in good if you have the cash to buy them, or the recipe and ingredients to make them.
All of those things can be easily earned in game, especially gold as you can get that from successfully killing enemies and you can even get materials from them, as well as acquire things like plants and precious rocks by walking over to them in this open world RPG, and collecting them.
Another reason for setting fire to the local wildlife, is you can receive XP for doing so, which will enable the protagonist to level up and get stronger, as this is an RPG after all and there are clothing attires and other weapons he can eventually get his hands on that will only make him even more of a master in the arts of Arcanity and Alchemy.
Still, just because you can buy the most powerful spells and be a much higher level than the enemy you’re facing, Tanzia is a game that does require strategy, as well as skill, especially when playing on the Hard difficulty. So, if there is ever a point and you are in over your head, why not try to leave the current area you’re in, as enemies will not follow you into another area and when battle is over, head for the nearest totem.
Not only can totems be used to fully restore your health and mana, but when close enough to them, you can even save your game before continuing on with your adventures through Tanzia. Just be warned you can’t use totes when in the middle of a fight, so if an enemy is coming after you, you will need to put them down first.
From a content perspective, while Tanzia may offer some repetitive gameplay due to being an RPG and may not be the biggest game in the world either, but it still has a world worth exploring. Just because everything isn’t HD, as the trees and enemies have a rounded effect to them, the world of Tanzia does fit in with the comic scenes that play through-out this fun adventure and there are sites to see. From various villages, to a dock, ruins, a beautiful lagoon and Sinking Island, there are some cool things to see.
Plus with a race who looks very similar to Mudokons from Oddworld, if you ever wanted to see what Abe would look like if he hoped into a canoe one day, you won’t even have to try to imagine it as you can always have your protagonist hire one for the day and see it all for yourself.
One thing players might have an issue with, other than how jerky the controls can sometimes feel and the game not being a lot bigger as they were hoping for an RPG with more to do, is progression.
There will be instances where you find yourself wondering where to go next as the game’s map won’t always provide you with the direct answer you wish it would, but as long as you look with both eyes open, you will be advancing again in no time. Just try to make sure you activate any and all portals you see, whilst on your travels, as they can be used for fast traveling.
But, there are other times where the game will tell you exactly where to go, thanks to a journal that will keep track of every side quest you have agreed to, which will often have a blue X appear on the map, highlighting just where exactly you should be heading. Sure, you could skip the majority of the side-quests, but honestly, why would you want to?
From herding crabs, to slaying giant corrupted monsters and even going into an enemy encampment, armed to the teeth, and claiming “Diplomatic Immunity,” the side-quests are all part of the fun and the one that has you trying to find all 6 Pages of Mako’s Journal, is the most important one of them all. The pages may offer nothing when you don’t have them all, but when you do, players will be able to bear witness to the second official digital Tanzia comic that is just completely story packed!
Sadly though, as nice a job as Tanzia is, as it does have some good ideas, an art style I am a fan of and a soundtrack that suits the island life of Tanzia very well, there is a performance issue I must bring up. When in the Forgotten Jungle area, when using a crab whistle to cause spiders to come rushing toward the player, it is possible to call too many spiders.
What happens is the area will suffer a colossal drop in frame-rate, which can be made a lot worse by calling even more spiders, but things will speed up once you start killing the spiders. I discovered this during a bid to farm for gold, so that I can raise the funds to purchase some expensive spells. So although it is an issue that can be triggered anywhere in the area, it is one that is caused by the player and Arcanity Inc. are in fact aware of it.
Other than that though, and a few instances where your character can get webbed in mid-air, causing him to stay there, and a few other locations where the player can be floating above objects, when he should be standing directly on them, Tanzia is a game with a reasonably good performance.
Having eagerly anticipated Tanzia for the last 20 months, it’s easy to have expected a lot more from it and get my hopes up. Yes, the controls are not perfect and there are places where the game can be a bit buggy, but I still very much enjoyed my time playing it. I’m more than happy enough to do a second playthrough and I really did like the game’s story, even though the ending did leave me wanting a sequel. It will never be able to compete against the likes of Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA, Octopath Traveler or Xenoblade Chronicles 2, but Tanzia could go on to be the next Kamiko, provided players give it the chance it deserves.
THE VERDICT: 7/10
*Review Key Provided by Arcanity Inc.
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