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Zoria: Age of Shattering Review

Kevin Chick Posted:
Reviews The RPG Files 0

Developer Tiny Trinket Games has just released its new CRPG, Zoria: Age of Shattering. Having played many CRPGs and, more recently, the phenomenal games released in this genre over the past few years, I was looking forward to dipping into another similar title. Unfortunately, many may have preconceptions similar to mine when initially looking at picking up Zoria: Age of Shattering. This may be setting the expectations for the game at an unfair level. Let’s look at what works, what’s lacking, and what is fun.     

Zoria: Age of Shattering is set in a typical fantasy world. The Izirians are invading and have used necromancy to overwhelm the Elion armies in all encounters. The main character is a former Commander who has lost the last major tower used to defend the kingdom. No one knows how the Izirians are moving their troops and catapults into position so quickly, but it has also contributed to their success on the battlefield. 

It's a standard fantasy storyline, and while I was tossed into a siege right after character creation, which created some initial excitement, the initial storytelling is limited. The opening story sequence was voice-acted decently and had hand-drawn panels. But once in-game, only snippets of text dialogue are voiced, and the quality of voice acting went down a couple of notches, with only a few voice actors being the exception. Most of the lines delivered sound almost monotone. 

World lore is primarily imparted through books found while exploring. While each lore book may have an image included, they are mostly text that provides some interesting world-building. I found that stopping to read each book broke up the flow of exploring, and I could see others not taking the time to read through that much information unless you are specifically a fan of older CRPGs that typically used a lot of text for exposition. Also, before the end of Chapter One, elements of magical technology are introduced. While this element does add something more to the world that could make it interesting, it must be done well to help create an engaging setting and can be a turn-off for some who prefer a “pure” fantasy setting.   

The sound used throughout the game was disappointing overall, but it can be fixed. Background music can be repetitive at times and constantly plays. If left at default settings, it can overwhelm sound effects and other audio throughout the game. Sometimes, the background music doesn't match your current activity on screen, like an exciting swell of music as you walk through a forest area. Otherwise, the soundtrack would be good if it were used well. 

Most spell sounds and ability sounds don't feel like they have an impact when used during combat. Thankfully, audio levels can be adjusted in the settings or turned off as needed. But without any changes to the settings, it took a lot away from my immersion.

Visuals are a step up, though, and I enjoyed exploring each map. Once I got used to using my right mouse to swivel the camera quickly to avoid walls and other scenery from blocking interactive objects, it was enjoyable to make my way to the next quest checkpoint or point of interest. The color palette in Zoria: Age of Shattering is not as vibrant when compared to similar games. Also, if you look closely at some of the effects, they are similar to what might have been seen in a game over a decade ago. For example, during the initial siege, some of the areas on fire are 2D sprites/effects; if you swivel the camera, you can see them narrow down into an almost flat plane.

Zoria Age of Shattering

But then there are areas such as the spider caves and certain parts of the forest that look good. Coming upon a vista where I could see a sizeable elemental walking below with huts on its back made me question what else I might come across in my adventures. Unfortunately, when the text indicates something that looks amazing or interesting while exploring, the camera doesn't pan to show it and create a moment of discovery. 

Character creation is limited but has enough options to make it enjoyable. There is no way around it; the base character models look awful, and the hair options look almost like plastic. After selecting the gender, I could pick from four body types: fit, slim, muscular, and large. The rest of the customization involves the face and hair. I did like the amount of color options, though, and if you didn't like any of the basic colors, there was also a color picker. But most of the time during gameplay, adventuring gear covers most of the base model and the gear itself looks OK. It was nice to be able to pick the gender and change the primary Character's first name. The last name is set, however, due to story reasons.

Once in the game, the characters' animations are OK; they are standard and do the job. But they can be repetitive in some conversations. There are also no animations during dialogue to indicate that someone is speaking. Some of the spell effects look great, while most are again OK. The UI is decent and easy to navigate but needs some quality-of-life adjustments and additions. Being able to auto-sort inventory would be high on my list of wants. But using the F key to loot everything in a small radius is excellent, and I enjoyed using WSAD to navigate my way around maps to be helpful when I also want to hold Tab for the commander's view. The commander's view to highlight interactable items should be a toggle for how often I used it. 

Zoria Age of Shattering

Exploring the world was smooth and quick. When I encountered new mechanics, a decently informative tutorial screen would pop up, and while it broke my immersion, the tutorial screens were useful. Tooltips for character stats and other UI elements are helpful, making individual aspects of the game easy to understand. Certain more complex elements, however, may need additional tutorials, like interacting with the Configure Party table at the keep for the first time. It took me a while to figure out how to add someone to the group and position them in the formation grid. 

I noticed that clearing each map could become a chore after a while, as I primarily completed the standard fantasy fare of quests outside of the main storyline and explored marked areas of interest. One quest had me retrieving a farmer's cow. But it did get me into the gameplay loop of clearing just one more location. Zoria: Age of Shattering does an excellent job transitioning from exploration to turn-based combat. I also enjoyed the strategic elements of selecting four characters for your exploration party, depending on what classes I thought might be most needed at a given time.

Each character class has different combat styles, exploration abilities, and status effect counters. Battle Clerics will allow you to use Shrines of Athys for a party buff while exploring. Rangers use bows in combat and can heal bleed effects while resting. Rogues can disarm traps during exploration and can remove poisons during downtime. Priests can heal, shield, and remove cursed ground. Lancers make great front-line tanks and can repair equipment at camp. There are ten classes, each with a different class ability and a combat talent tree that goes to level 15.

I found the class system to be Zoria: Age of Shattering's greatest strength as it played into my decision on what to upgrade once I unlocked the Keep and Mission table. I could recruit certain characters/classes depending on the upgrades I selected. Then, depending on how many supplies I had available, I could either take certain class combinations when exploring and/or send characters on timed missions to gain experience and resources if I didn't need specific abilities.

Zoria Age of Shattering

I also like the crafting system to help fill shortfalls of gear and consumables, but it feels elementary and overly tedious at the same time. Crafting food or temporary buffs and consumables in camp is fun. But I don't know that so many components per item crafted is needed, and having materials/components take up inventory space makes managing your inventory much more annoying without certain quality-of-life functionality already found in other games. I do like that there are tabs for different types of items.   

On the technical side, Zoria: Age of Shattering runs well. I didn't have any crashes or freezing during my playtime. During my first round of character creation, I somehow had the hairline of my main Character not mesh properly with the hairstyle, and I could see inside the model. But I couldn't replicate the issue when I restarted the game a second and third time. During the turn-based combat, the enemy AI could, on rare occasions, hang for multiple seconds before taking an action, and there were two occasions where I thought the game had crashed. But it continued without issue after I waited a bit longer. I had no problems with the enemy AI other than that; I am curious about how it selects targets in combat, as it sometimes seems almost random. The version of the game I played was a review build, so the technical issues I have experienced may be patched in the live version of the game. Some players may want to be aware that there is a short loading screen every time you transition to a new area. They were short enough that it didn't bother me. 

Zoria: Age of Shattering has the makings of a good CRPG. The game has hooked me, and I want to see where the story goes next, even if it is so far standard fare for a fantasy game. I like making the tactical decision of what Character to bring while exploring and how best each class can help me during combat and while encamped. But I still need to find that feeling of being fully engaged in the world, and that is because Zoria: Age of Shattering is missing some quality-of-life additions and polish. But even without that, it snagged me into exploring one more area and upgrading my keep one more time before I quit for the night. For $24.99, it's a decent pickup if you are looking to try a new CRPG.

Full Disclosure: A copy of this game was provided by PR for the purposes of this review. Reviewed on PC.

6.0 Okay
  • Performance
  • Classes/Combat
  • World Exploration
  • Sound Design
  • Inventory Management
  • Missing QoL and Polish


Kevin Chick

Kevin "Xevrin" is an avid gamer having started playing video games on an Apple III with the Wizardry Series and Questron before the age of 10. In junior high, he branched out into tabletop gaming with the release of D&D 2nd Edition. During his first year of university, Everquest was released combining both of his favorite activities.