Zenonia 4

Zenonia 4

Gamevil returns with its staple RPG franchise

It’s a little strange to consider iOS as having franchises. Videogaming is built on memorable characters and names, but iOS gaming is still fledgling, and surely the franchises it has created too. Not so, since Angry Birds reiterates itself every season, Infinity Blade has had a sequel, and every new game from Kairosoft garners squeals of joy. Zenonia is  one such example of these ever-growing franchises.

In fact, it’s testament to a series built on quality that a new Zenonia gets us just as excited as those series mentioed above. In relation to its predecessor, little has changed here; picking one of four characters, you play through the story hacking at enemies, gathering supplies, levelling up and defeating the end boss. Controls are carried over from Zenonia 3, with eight custom ability slots, a large attack button and an easy-to-use D-Pad. With the enhanced anime visuals – now even more gorgeous than ever – and flashier attack effects, this is by far and away the best Zenonia instalment yet.

However, it’s all a little too familiar. There’s very little beyond the odd tweak here and there to distinguish Zenonia 4 – on a mechanical level, at least – from previous iterations. It’s a shame, since it is a series that has consistently improved, yet here it feels very much as if Zenonia is repeating itself. It still manages to retain the fun, of course, and a whole new campaign to fight through is appreciated. Ultimately, though, in between releases we’ve begun to expect more from this iOS RPG powerhouse.

Then there’s the in-app purchases. It’s not something that is new to the series, but never has its inclusion been so pronounced or forceful. The in-game Zen currency funds a lot of the statistics built into the game, and though they can be bolstered by levelling up normally, many of the enemies you’ll encounter are so powerful – even early on – that you’ll have no choice but to grind excessively or cough up the cash for additional Zen. Still, this is all entirely optional.

Zenonia 4 still manages to remain one of the most enjoyable RPGs on smartphones, and it’s clear that a lot of effort has gone into making this the best one yet. Ignore its niggles, and you’ll get swallowed whole by the RPG, but let’s hope that Zenonia isn’t a franchise in decline.

Rated 4 out of 5

Manages to remain one of the best smartphone RPGs, but there needs to be improvements next time around.