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Today I’ve got another new writer for you, Jeff Saporito, he’s going to be primarily handling game reviews and articles, and leaning more towards consoles and Apple or Mac related things. Jeff has got a BS in Communication, Media and Technology and has been doing freelance writing work for the last couple years. You can learn a bit more about Jeff if you wish by visiting his website HERE, he’s got a unique writing style…

Chronic Logic’s “Zatikon” is a fairly rudimentary turn-based tactical strategy game. Similar to chess, the primary goal is for you to move your pieces along a board and attempt to get to the other side. Simple and plain on the surface, Zatikon can be a challenging test of one’s strategic skill.

The game runs on Windows, Linux, and Mac – so everyone out there aside from you crazy basement dwellers who invented your own operating system will be able to jump in and start thwarting. The application takes up nearly no hard drive space (somewhere around 136kb for the installed version on Mac) and has that painfully addictive play quality that many simple games are known for. Note that the game itself is free, and expansion packs with more units for your army can be purchased at minimal prices. Also note that I reviewed this title by playing the Mac version, because Macs are boss.

Zatikon can be played single player against an AI that gets more difficult as you progress, or against other live players. From the moment you open the game, you are put into a chat forum that allows you to see and interact with the other players online. It also boasts an online ranking system. Be aware there is often nobody to play against, so it’ll be you and the big bad AI.


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Specifications:

Zatikon

Welcome to Zatikon. Construct your army out of creatures as varied as the magnificent dragon or mighty warrior to the evil necromancer or holy Templar. Destroy your opponent with a heavy cavalry charge or defeat their army before they can reach you with archers, crossbowmen and mages. Use an unlimited number of strategies to defeat your opponents and earn gold to increase the might of your army. Play Zatikon for free and start building your armies today!

Zatikon is a free turn based multiplayer tactics game featuring over 30 unique units with over 80 additional units available in add-on packs. Build your army and defeat your opponent. With an almost unlimited number of possible strategies at your disposal Zatikon highly addictive and fun. Zatikon includes online player ranking and several extra game types including co-op, single player and random army mode.

Installation is easy, given the game’s multi-platform compatibility and small file size.

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So, on to the game – You start out with $1,000 that you use to build your army. Army members range from archers to mages, catapults, buildings, horsemen, soldiers, clergy, cultists, beats and more. Every unit has its own strengths and weaknesses, and consumes a certain amount of action points available for combat and movement during every turn. You are able to tailor your army at any time, and can store several armies for use during play. This is all pretty fine and dandy, well laid out, and is a pretty good structure for a strategy game.

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Clearly Zatikon has all the ingredients for a good strategy game, so how is the execution of it all? I’m not the biggest fan of strategy games, though I do enjoy a good turn-based game over an RTS any day – and this one is pretty fun.

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As you can tell from the screenshots, the graphics are super plain; mainly due to the game being Java-based. The “chess board” is literally that – plain squares on which the characters move and interact. There are few animations, aside from slight cut paper style movements for certain characters, or a starburst design atop a character that has just been wounded. The units on the board are simple, flat, 2D renderings that aren’t super exciting, and often make it hard to tell whose units are whose. At the very least, better shading or coloring would make it easier to tell what’s going on.

As I said, every unit has certain attributes and use a certain number of your commands per turn. You get five commands and 90 seconds to complete them. You can send your units out in any order you’d like, forcing you to plan ahead and actually take some consideration for what you’re doing. Get to your opponent’s castle first, and you win. Don’t get there, or get all your units killed, and you don’t win. Simple enough.

The sound effects aren’t bad – they’re better than the graphics, which is a little awkward, but at least it’s got that going for it. The music is decent as well.

Zatikon certainly takes some training. You can knock out the first few levels of the AI player pretty easily, but you’ll start getting reamed eventually, like I did by level 11. There are a lot of characters to study and it takes time to understand all their strengths and weaknesses to develop a winning strategy. There is no tutorial for the game, just an online manual, so you’re pretty much butt-up in the woods until you figure it all out.

As you win, you get gold, which allows you to unlock other characters. These are chosen at random, so you may get something good or you may get something crummy. Good luck.

ScreenShots: 

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Conclusion:

All in all, I was surprised. This really is a pretty decent game. The $0.00 price tag is obviously champion, and the add-on packs are a great value for those who really get into the game. While the graphics are terrible and the visuals are lacking, the game is aware of this, and makes up for it with unique gameplay and a plethora of characters and customizations that make it worth playing. Totally worth a play – and if you’re like me, someone who isn’t even that big a strategy fan, you’ll start getting really pissed off every time you lose and determined to keep on fighting. It’s a solid release that doesn’t try to be what it’s not, and does a swell job of being what it is.

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Pros:
LOTS of choices for how to build your army
Turn-based with time limits
Cool chat mode & online functions to find players
Works on all platforms with a tiny file size

Cons:
Cheap graphics and game board
Hard to tell which team is which

Grades:  
Overall score 7 10 thumb1 Zatikon
Design score 5 10 thumb1 Zatikon
Performance score 9 10 thumb1 Zatikon