The long-running Zenonia series draws on fan nostalgia for classic RPGs like Final Fantasy and The Legend of Zelda and translates them for the small screen.
- Dozens of hours of gameplay in a traditional fantasy world
- A variety of unique classes to choose from
- Hundreds of pieces of equipment that change your character's look
- Evokes the golden age of RPGs
- Strong central combat system enhanced by vast customization options
- Generous to players not looking to spend money
- Last game constitutes a major shift from Zenonia's unique niche in the mobile gaming world
- Stories are well trod territory for experienced roleplaying gamers
- Incorporates freemium mechanics into an otherwise full-featured series
Before the popularization of microtransactions and gacha mechanics, Zenonia created a new template for mobile RPGs. Rather than tethering their gameplay to weekly events and random collection mechanics, Zenonia sought to bring the deep mechanics of action roleplaying games and make them work in the more limited space of a phone's screen. The gamble paid off, and the Zenonia series has now expanded to six core games available on both Android and Apple mobile devices. The first Zenonia wears its inspirations on its sleeve. The main character, Regret, is an orphan whose desire for revenge against the demon who killed his father sends him on a quest that spans a large fantasy world and reveals deeper threats working below the surface. While the developer Gamevil takes great pains to create a meaningful narrative, the heart of the game lies in its combat and customization systems. The action RPG structure draws strongly from classics like Legend of Mana and the early Zelda games but circumvents the need for a game pad by putting the action keys and directional pads directly on the screen. Combat is clever and responsive, but its further supplemented by a deep and engrossing system of development trees. Here the inspiration from classic RPGs like Final Fantasy is apparent. Players have four classes to choose from, each reflecting their individual strengths and weaknesses, and a wealth of new powers are buried in dense skill trees unique to each class. The options are further complemented by the presence of hundreds of weapons, armor, and accessories. Not only do this equipment change your stats and give you new options in combat, but Regret's appearance changes to match the equipment he chooses. It's a nice visual addition for a genre where characters often appear static. While the four games following the first Zenonia would cling to the same basic gameplay, each would go on to add its own wrinkles to the formula. Zenonia ditches the single protagonist in favor of four heroes. Each hero prescribes to a different class, but they also come with their own narratives and motivations. It's also the first game in the series to introduce a player vs. player combat system facilitated by WiFi. Zenonia 3 returns to the one character structure but introduces new classes and replaces the PvP combat with a multiplayer co-op component. The next two games make minor tweaks to the formula, but a drastic overhaul wouldn't happen until the release of the sixth game, known as Zenonia S. Here, Gamevil completely upends the formula by removing the single player focused components of the game in favor of a more traditional massively multiplayer online game. The mechanics are still strong, but missions in S are relegated to small maps, and much of the game's sense of scope is lost with the removal of the large open world.