Anzumani’s Arising Review
Anzumani’s Arising Review
Anzumani’s Arising will take you on a journey back in time to the 1980s, a time when no one was yet sure what an adventure game was
Posted: 11/23/15 | Category: Review | Developer: New Phaze Development | Publisher: New Phaze Development | Platform: Windows

Genre: RPG Adventure / Dungeon Crawler
Release date: 2012

Anzumani’s Arising (the FREE adventure game) will take you on a journey back in time to the 1980s, a time when no one was yet sure what an adventure game was, a time when sounds in games consisted entirely of bleeps and bloops. Back then, text adventures were still being sold in cardboard boxes, and Ken and Roberta Williams were somewhere in the Sierras figuring out how to make cartoon characters walk across a screen at the player’s bidding (usually to fall off the edge of something). Back then, RPGs, or dungeon crawls, were a wildly popular genre. Both the adventure (text and graphic) and the RPG tended to drag people through subterranean caverns wherein lurked all manner of monsters and magicians. Early adventures usually were more on the comic side, while RPGs were about serious-minded evil wizard removal. Both, when they had graphics at all, sported extremely simple pixelated characters moving up and down and left and right over flat 256-color (if you were lucky) landscapes. It was a bit like playing a game on a large, scrolling tapestry.

Not surprisingly, many youngsters who grew up playing these now digitally archaic games developed a real love for them. A few even dabbled in the digital sorcery required to birth a game of this type. Such is the case with Anzumani’s Arising from New Phaze Development. The author himself provides an account on the game website’s “About” page of how he lovingly over the years transferred the source files of the game from one new computer to the next. Until, in 2012 or so he stumbled across the unfinished bits and pieces of the game and was inspired not only to finish it, but to port it to a whole new computer platform, one that would allow the game to run on modern computers (well, modern circa 2000).

Not all of the game’s digital heritage has been overcome. For instance, it has only the one screen resolution, 1280 x 1024. Back in the day of the CRT VGA monitor this would have presented no problem. But today’s mostly widescreen flat monitors don’t (at least, mine doesn't) lend themselves natively to such a squarish frame. I finally got the game to run but in a resolution that made the game look stretched out like Turkish Taffy. Also still present are the arrow-key-only navigation and, of course, those lovingly rendered MIDI bleeps and bloops.  

The game itself is a fairly standard story of some nasty wizard wickedly trashing an otherwise peaceful kingdom’s treasured artifacts, in this case the Box of Hope. You, in time-honored King Graham fashion, are a stranger called in to defeat the evil wizard Anzumani and his almost equally evil demon minions and return the Box of Hope to its rightful place on the Altar of something or other.

Really, most of the people who download and play this game are going to be familiar with the drill. Although that’s a shame because it’s really a fun game to play, and I think those players unfamiliar with this genre would get a real feel for what these old games are like. The gameplay is fairly simple. You, the hero, wander around the 8x8 square of “rooms” trying to get into those areas closed off to you. The early part consists mainly of answering riddles, via pop-up text box, to open gates that will provide you with the gold and the vials of healing you’ll need for the battles with the demons in the later part of the game. Some of these riddles are simple and some you’re probably going to have to consult Google about. But really, there are only a few that must be solved -- the ones that gain you access to new areas.

Eventually, you’ll make your way to the other “levels” of the game (that is, additional 8x8 playing areas). Finally, when you’ve amassed enough materiel you engage in turn-based battles with a number of magical opponents. As the author points out, this consists mainly of you outsmarting the baddies, not out-duking them. Although there are a few traditional toe-to-toe “health point” confrontations, where the digital counter pops up on the side of the screen to tell you how much health remains to both you and your foe.

Anzumani’s Arising is really more RPG than it is traditional adventure. There are no inventory puzzles beyond the simple insertion of key into lock. However, most of the really annoying aspects of RPGs have been discarded. You don’t have to “create” your avatar, the gold and health counters are fairly easy to manage and the keyboard commands are kept to the bare minimum. I never really liked those RPGs where, at the outset, you distribute a set amount of power points to various attributes — strength, magic, theft, etc. Invariably, I’d get half an hour into the game and be kicking myself for not going for 35 points of intelligence instead of 15. The only games in my experience where I thought adventuring and RPGing were successfully combined are the first two Quest for Glory games from Sierra. The second QFG in particular is a deathless classic, offering a truly long and memorable journey through a marvelous world.

The author of Azumani’s Arising offers no walkthrough, which is an old-school trait I can applaud. Aside from a few of the trickier riddles, the game is not so much difficult as it is sensory-overloading. There were times when I felt completely lost wandering around those pixelated castle rooms. Mostly, though, the game is about figuring out how to get into closed-off areas. In this regard, the maps you stumble across provide you with a plan of the whole level and give you your best clues of where to go next. Also, when in doubt, start bumping into torches. You never know what wall section will slide open. And don’t be afraid to get your avatar a little singed in the process of locating hidden rooms.

The downside of Anzuman’s Arising is the aforementioned single monitor resolution limitation. Also, the game’s text would have greatly benefitted from a couple more spell-checkings. Particularly in a game so reliant on riddles. One typo in a riddle can be murder.

On the plus side, the game is under 3 megabytes to download — smaller than the pdf manual of most modern adventures — and is entirely free. It took me about 15-20 hours to complete. I found it quite enjoyable to play, and I’m really not a big fan of RPGs.

The same author released another free adventure about ten years ago, called In Cubation. That game was another loving tribute, this time to Myst. I wrote a review of In Cubation in 2007 and I still think it’s one of the better Myst clones. It, too, is still available free to download. 

The Bottom Line

Anzumani’s Arising is freeware, and one person’s loving tribute to a bygone older game category. While it does have a few annoying quirks, I had a mostly good time dungeon-crawling and riddle-solving through it. Final grade, B plus. 

Fun old-style dungeon crawl
+ Interesting riddles
Not too RPG-ish
Only one widescreen-unfriendly screen resolution
- Too many typos
- Can be confusing at times
Specials from Digital Download
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