Zenonia has been a flagship RPG for mobile players for quite some time now, serving up console-sized narratives and gameplay for on-the-go budgets and mindsets. It’s hard to believe, but the series has hit its fifth installment, and it shows no sign of losing steam yet. It’s not perfect, but for a sprawling adventure (the price is certainly right) the Zenonia series is certainly one of the must-have classic RPGs for iOS. The fifth game doesn’t break the mold, but it’s still a meaty entry to an established commercial success you’d do well to check out.
Zenonia 5 follows a group of plucky heroes during a time of chaos in a once-peaceful land. A malevolent tribe has risen to power, threatening the happiness and well-being of the townsfolk. Of course, that never flies in the land of the RPG. A hero will rise, and that means you. Choose from four different characters, each with their own class and specialty: Abel the Berserker, Ryan the Paladin, Evan the Mechanic, and Neil the Wizard. Each character is customizable down to skin and hair color, so once you’ve decided, essentially, how you want to play (ranged attacks, melee, magic, etc.) it’s time to set off with your own personal hero.
What awaits hasn’t been noticeably altered from the previous Zenonia titles, and you’re in for much of the same fare here. The sameness does permeate, but it also ensures you’ve got a quality product, and there’s plenty that illustrates this point within the narrative. You’ll stumble your way through deserts, mountain ranges, the odd village or so, along the way slicing through enemies with the greatest of ease. It’s fast-paced, for sure, so luckily you’ve got an interesting little Fairy to come to your aid. She’s available to cast helpful spell buffs when things get rough. You’ve also got multiple skill trees to manage, as well as a robust character growth system and plenty of equipment to geek out over.
While combat and RPG-grindfests are standard for the genre and both are apparent in droves here, Zenonia 5 shines with its usage of on-screen controls and gorgeous character art. The joypad is smooth and dependable, and it feels great. Your character’s able to sprint at a fairly quick pace, and double-tapping keeps this in check. You’ve also got different buttons with different action assignments. A larger button handles talking and attacking as well as other “action” commands, such as “confirming” and what-have-you. It’s separate from other skill and item buttons for quick access, eliminating clumsiness and confusion when going for a specific item or even saving your game. It’s responsive and reliable, and is one of the best pieces of the entire package.
Unfortunately, this is a freemium title, so the pitfalls that come with that status are rampant here as well. Zen is the real-world money of choice, and it can be earned at a slower rate than would be acceptable for hardcore players, or it may be purchased in order to make things easier for new players. Equipment requires repair over time, you need to stockpile life-restoring items, and you’ll of course want bigger and better items. You’ll have to either fork over real dough or grind until you’re able to get what you want. If that’s not an issue, Zenonia 5 will delight, but if you’re not patient enough to nab these items with the meager amount of gold collected in-game you might look into a different adventure to embark on.
For absolutely stunning artwork, a quest that begs you to come back for more, and excellent controls, Zenonia 5 is the RPG of choice– that is, if the freemium model doesn’t turn you off. There’s enough to do here to keep you busy, and if you clear this one you can always go back and play the first four– that is, if you haven’t already. Perhaps Zenonia 5 wasn’t a big step forward because it knows if something isn’t broken, maybe it shouldn’t be “fixed.”