On the face of it, Gift of Parthax looks as though it could be another one of those games that seeks to cash in on the growth in popularity of retro style titles, butin actuality there is a whole lot more to it than that. The game operates in a world where a prolonged feud between the “normal” citizens of the Kingdom of Duredyll and those with magic powers, or mages, has led to magic-users going into hiding for their own safety. The player takes on the role of Arif, one of these mages who was caught trying to escape the area with his companion Veleus. After being thrown into the dungeons of Atixa’s Grand Colosseum, Veleus is sent to fight before returning in a stricken state, where it becomes your turn to take to the arena.
And so sets the scene for the rest of the game, as the player is tasked with completing a succession of increasingly difficult combat scenarios with the ultimate goal of winning out and claiming the Gift of Parthax, a personal prize from the powerful wizard who runs the arena, and a blessing which may be just enough to save your friend from his eventual fate. When not in combat, the player will reside in the preparation area. The first room contains a shop which allows the player to purchase upgrades with the coins earned in the arena, usually in the form of runes and potions. Runes can be augmented into your current spell set to buff the damage or alter the effects. Examples of this include the chance for a spell to trigger a burn, poison or explosive effect or to provide more general buffs like increased speed for the player’s projectiles.
Spells are learned through completing rounds in the arena and increasing Arif’s knowledge, with a total of 29 spells and 37 runes to accrue in total. Each spell can have a maximum of four assigned runes, so there really is a huge amount of combinations to explore to find your desired potency. The combat itself is simple with consistent movement as well as an accurate point and click game integral to victory. The main thing to note from the fight sequences, however, is that they are an absolute boatload of fun, with the hectic dodge of ranged attacks and the satisfying magic missile elements working in tandem beautifully.
The arena battles themselves take place over the course of months of in game time, with each season bringing a new set of enemies to conquer. The first sequence, set in Spring, will see the player taking on grass and insect creatures, before a suitably themed boss fight. This then moves on to fire and dragons by the summer, and so on and so forth, all with the ultimate goal of challenging Parthax for his prize.
As well as this, the story is utterly charming in its simplicity, choosing to forego a convoluted narrative in favour of traditional fantasy tropes that really seem to fit well here. The enemies you meet are over the top and fantastical, but it doesn’t ever get to the point where it feels excessively silly. If you are a fan of 2D-Action titles with strong RPG-like elements then Gift of Parthax could well be the game for you, it kept me busy for hours before hardcore mode made me cry.