How Metroidvania is it? Low Fit. Zeran’s Folly has a map, and has you tackling its levels in a non-linear fashion, however the game is story gated rather than ability gated – even though you get new abilities along the way. Progression is basically linear with some side quests.
Primary Challenge: Melee Combat
Time to beat: ~10 hours
Review Info: The Steam review code for Zeran's Folly was provided by the developer.
Buy Zeran's Folly if you like…
- Mindless Combat
- Interesting Story Concepts
- Games that focus on length
- Playing on Easy Mode for the Story
- Pornographic Humor
▼ Review continues below ▼
WARNING: This game has a lot of “adult” humor in it, and I’m going to be referencing some of it directly – if you’re offended by that sort of thing, then please skip this review.
Occasionally I have to review something that I am clearly not the target audience for. That’s fine, and it’s why I recommend checking out a variety of opinions for every game I review. Zeran’s Folly, for me, fails on just about every game design and writing philosophy that I subscribe to. That isn’t to say that there aren’t good things to be said about the game – in fact there were points where I was adequately entertained. As a whole though, it’s difficult for me to recommend.
At its core, the gameplay feels pretty good. Upon your character awakening in a cave, you’re immediately given a tutorial fight of sorts to get you used to the dual axe wielding gameplay. It’s reminiscent of early 2000s flash games, with a sort of floaty animation style that still has a little weight to it, mostly thanks to the sound design. The initial impression left me thinking that the controls and style of the game might not beat out other 2D action platformer giants, but that it would at least provide an entertaining experience overall.
The level and enemy design seems determined to highlight all of the game’s weaknesses, however. I’m not going to call the level design “Boring”, but it’s kind of sloppy. The floatier jumping mechanics in combination with the less than clear collision detection never made me feel confident with my control inputs, and as the game progressed towards “more challenging” content it quickly became an exercise in frustration to push past each level. Furthermore almost every level follows a strict pattern of sending you off in one of several directions to find a key or flip a switch to open a series of doors at a central point. It was only at the half-way point of the game that the predictability had me groaning “Not this again” the moment I pulled up the map of a new area.
Occasionally the game introduces new gimmicks, which is fantastic. You get the ability to run on walls – given enough speed – that could have brought a Sonic the Hedgehog quality to the platforming. Unfortunately – at least on the Marauder difficulty setting – enemies were determined to disallow any platforming challenge to go unpunished as their random and unpredictable patterns often come from off screen to halt your progress. There is one dungeon that actually has level gimmicks in each of its otherwise predictable pathways, which I would consider to be the best dungeon in the game – but almost in a defiance of me finding any enjoyment from the level design they decided to effectively make you play every section twice as part of the story.
The bosses are, sadly, not much better. None of them have any on-hit invincibility frames, so you can just whirl in like the Tasmanian devil and button mash your way to victory for most of them. The way your health works makes this an even more viable strategy since you can refill your hearts instantly at any point with potions. These potions are one of the most effective ways to spend the pile of gold you’ll find, since it essentially allows you to “Cheat” most of the content. They can only be refilled at certain shops though, making it tedious to rely on them as a strategy due to the backtracking, but it’s generally better than trying to patiently work your way through enemy hordes or butting heads with a poorly telegraphed boss pattern.
Such a simple design – albeit a bit boring – still would have merited a passable rating, except the game changes the rules occasionally. At certain points you’re forced to play specific characters that you definitely weren’t given enough opportunity to practice with. Other times you’re not given the ability to refill your hip flask and are locked into a level where you might need it the most. At the worst point in the game, and perhaps the most frustrating thing I’ve had to do to complete a game, you’re locked into both; it was a character I hadn’t touched, in a section where I couldn’t refill my potions, and you’re required to pass the level in a time limit. At the end of this already rage inducing level was a boss fight with three different targets, each one displaying how un-fun the bosses in this game could be. And, after the hardest thing I’ve done, the rest of the game –including the final dungeon – let’s you hip-flask it up to your heart’s content, as if to say that the challenge wasn’t even intentional.
It’s probably important for me to mention at this point that my experiences with the gameplay are based on playing the game on its “Challenge” difficulty setting. There is also a “Bard” mode that’s described as “For the Story” that you can optionally choose – and I would definitely recommend that if you’re still planning on playing this. Take away the frustration of the gameplay and you’re left with some pretty boring rote level patterns, but as advertised you’d be able to see the story without the skill gate.
So how does that story hold up? It’s okay. The overall concept has a lot of potential. The way it’s presented is rather predictable, but I was still interested in how it played out. Some of the characters even tugged at my heartstrings a little bit. However (I’ve been saying “however” a lot here), the game’s attempt at being “Adult” comes across more as edgy adolescent implementation of “naughty words” than something thoughtfully mature. The game seems to be intentionally trying to be offensive, and I stand offended. Most of it is typical eye-rolling nonsense. One of the bosses is a literal penis, another is a topless Dryad that attacks you with her vagina, and the dialog is riddled with four letter words and references to sex. But occasionally it crosses lines like referencing rape and pedophilia, which subjects I personally consider are something that should never be used humorously. And even with that said, what good could have come from the association that these characters had with each other is somewhat stifled by the constant bantering about giving each other oral sex, or other allusions that their friendship is based on lustful feelings rather than genuine brother/sisterhood. Is the game worth playing for the story alone? Not for me at least.
I do not generally like giving poor review scores, and I try to talk myself out of them whenever I can. However, comparing this game to everything else I’ve played up to this point I feel like it wouldn’t be fair to the other games to rate it any higher. Looking at just the gameplay, it’s a combination of frustrating and boring design that would likely have merited the score alone. Throw in a story that’s likely going to be offensive to many anyway, and it becomes really hard to recommend this to anyone outside of the niche that it already supports.
Button mashing works - most of the time - until the game changes the rules, then it's a frustrating fight with poor conveyance
There are some interesting mechanics that could be enjoyable, however the level design is overall repetitive with enemies placed to stifle the flow
The map is given to you for every area, so it's pretty easy to discern where treasure might be. Often you're rewarded with paltry gold and have to back track out
There are few puzzles in this game
The overall plot is interesting, though the execution is both wordy and unnecessarily filled with ''Adult'' themes
The flash game art style is adequate if not thematically incongruent
Mostly generic, but nice tunes overall. Does not always fit the scenario
There are multiple difficulty modes, but I would only recommend one of them
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All Time: Mostly Positive
(77% of 49 Reviews)