Some days, you never know what you’ll find while perusing digital distribution sites. I was scanning through Desura a while back, and came upon this interesting looking spacey game named Zigfrak. I’d never heard of it, but since the price was maybe $7, I snagged a copy and added to my list of games to try soon(ish). Now that I’ve had time to play the game, read on to find how surprisingly fun I found it to be. :)
Zigfrak takes place in the far future, wherein humans are engaged in a bloody civil war. Once an alien threat was discovered, some humans chose to stay, while others chose to flee, and it’s between the Military and Freerunner factions that this war takes place. The game sets this background up nicely, and kept it simple, which was also a plus. After the quick intro, I found myself preparing for training.
Training takes you through the basics of flying around, docking, communicating and interacting with objects in space (sadly Jubal Early is nowhere to be found, despite the civil war theme). Controlling the game is entirely done with the mouse — which was WAY too sensitive at first, but thankfully can be turned down — and combat felt a lot like Freelancer, which is a good thing. There’s also a lot of other things to do in space, like rescue pilots, tractor in loot, fly through hoops and so on. Zigfrak’s space is very busy and interactive, which was awesome. There also seems to be a lot of it, as the map seems to be pretty big. :)
One cool thing I liked about the game is that you can dock with nearly anything, from ships to stations. When docking with an enemy, you can try to look their ship or even capture it! Docking with friendly ships allows you to trade with them, and docking with stations allows the typical shopping and mission acquisition in these types of games. I particularly loved being able to capture new ships, which happened half-way through the tutorial. It’s a fun way to change ships, and it seems you keep your equipment when capturing ships as well.
A good chunk of the tutorial focused on combat, which happens a lot after the tutorial as well. Combat is very intense and fun, and easy to get into since your weapons seem to automatically aim at locked targets if they’re close enough to your targeting reticule, making accuracy less of an issue, but making the game accessible at the same time. I actually like this approach, as it retains the intensity and danger of combat while needing a bit less actual skill, so it’s easy to get into.
While combat is fun, another enjoyable part of the game are the OTHER things you’re asked to do during the various missions. One mission had me “fishing in a fission hole”, in which, I kid you not, one of the cargo boxes I fished out contained a pony. Seriously, a pony. This game has a great sense of humor that comes out in its mission text an in times like this. While most space games can be DEADLY ZOMG SERIOUS, I really enjoy a game that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
In the time I played, I destroyed a bunch of enemies — some of which give you research points to use toward buying better weapons — took out some space trash, did the aforementioned fishing mission and much more. Missions are acquired at space stations, and are pretty varied in terms of design and presentation.
The game’s interface makes getting missions easy, but it’s not all roses in this department. I had a bit of a confusing time with the inventory screen, for example, determining what was equipped and what was in my cargo bay. I picked up on it eventually, but it was odd at first. The game is also very, very text heavy, which typically isn’t a problem, but in its small windows, it means a bunch of scrolling. This didn’t get in the way of the fun, thankfully, but it was worth noting.
Presentation-wise, Zigfrak is clearly an indie effort, but I’ve no problem with that. The graphics are serviceable and get the job done, the music is actually really good and the sound effects are nicely bombastic. Visual effects like explosions are nice, big and bright, and the universe has a very colorful and distinctive look to it. Overall, while the presentation wasn’t mind-blowing or anything, it was very vibrant and fun, so no complaints here.
Overall, I had a really, really fun time with the Zigfrak beta. It’s still rough in a few areas like mouse sensitivity and interface, but those can be tweaked or adapted to. Even with these slight issues, they didn’t detract from my fun at all. I can easily recommend this game to anyone looking for a fast-paced space shooter with open-world elements and a varied, interactive environment. I’m also really looking forward to seeing how the game improves up until release, because the game’s developer has been pretty keen on getting feedback from places like Twitter and such.
So for its current $7, I can easily recommend Zigfrak to space game fans looking for something a bit different and a bit less serious. :) Thanks for reading this preview, I hope you enjoyed it, and I hope you enjoy the gallery below of all the screenshots I took! Have a great day!