Developer(s) – Adrenium Games
Publisher(s) – Microsoft Game Studios
Released as a launch title for the original Xbox back in 2001, Azurik: Rise of Perathia was met with a wide variety of reviews, but most of them were particularly negative; once more, the TV show X-play went so far as to call it the worst Xbox game of all time. My opinion is actually quite different. Although there are indeed flaws with the game, I don’t think it’s anywhere near as bad as most critics have made it out to be, and was a reasonably strong gaming experience for a launch title released on Microsoft’s first attempt at a home console.
Graphics – 7.5/10
For example, the visuals not only do a pretty decent job of displaying what the original Xbox was capable of on a graphical level during the early stages of its shelf life, but there is also quite a bit of interesting conceptual design as well, set in a pretty wide variety of locations. The enemies at first a quite generic, but this aspect improves as the game progresses; not to mention the soundtrack stands out quite well, as it was composed by Jeremy Soule, who would later go on to compose the soundtrack for such games Skyrim and Oblivion.
Gameplay – 6.5/10
Gameplay puts a heavy emphasis on combat as well as puzzle solving, and makes use of a semi-open world allowing for a certain degree of exploration. There are a few collectibles, such as obsidians, which increase the player’s mana needed to cast or combine spells and fuse them together with the player’s weapon. The fact that there are so many different types of spells and weapon combinations to they out gives the game variety on a level uncommon within such obscure titles, and is a crucial reason why I believe it has been harshly received in my opinion.
Controls – 8/10
Though the combat is as wonderfully and unusually variable as it is, problems arise during fights, since the control scheme wasn’t handled as well as industry standard had set even by that time. I think it would’ve helped the developed if some form of target locking system had been put into place, since that has been considered the key feature of any control scheme within action-adventure games since Ocarina of Time, and is still adhered to today, since the upcoming Bloodborne makes use of use mechanics. Otherwise, however, there are no further problems, and it is quite impressive how the developers managed to implement such a varied combat system on an early sixth generation game.
Lifespan – 6.5/10
The game can be made to last round 15 to 20 hours, which for even a semi-open world isn’t outstanding, but is not unforgivable. There was easily enough room for more side quests to be added, and for more extras included to further encourage exploration, since I estimate that the world in Azurik is about as big as that of Ocarina of Time, and by that logic, the limitations would seem to have manifested within the developer’s imagination as opposed to them being able to cite hardware limitations.
Storyline – 7/10
Whilst the soundtrack may add quite a bit to the game in terms of atmosphere, the story was also fairly well conceived too. It involves a world called Perathia, which is maintained by 6 elemental discs; fire, water, air, earth, life and death. Though the death disc has been missing for quite some time, order is still maintained and the natural balance uninterrupted. The guardians of the discs are Azurik, Balthazar and their master Eldwyn, but after a small confrontation between the two apprentices, Balthazar accidentally finds the death disc within the walls of his home. He is them possessed by the death guardian, who orders him to steal the remaining five discs, but after another confrontation between Balthazar and Eldwyn, the discs are destroyed and scattered across Perathia, compelling Azurik to set out and recover them, resorting the land.
Originality – 7/10
The most unique things about Azurik are both it’s conceptual design, which change and keep varied as much as any great video game, and the variety in combat compared to many other games of its kind. Though the story may only be fairly well conceived as opposed to it being a blockbuster like I’d seen before in the Final Fantasy PlayStation trilogy, the voice acting isn’t terrible, as which is often the case, and there are no plot holes either. As I said, there was definitely room for improvement, but if the intention was to start a franchise, this would’ve been a pretty decent starting point.
In summation, Azurik: Rise of Perathia, in my opinion, has received more critical scorn than I believe it deserves. It’s a decent title that will keep players entertained for a fair amount of time, and I believe that if developers indeed have intentions of bringing back the ClayFighter series, then surely a sequel for Azurik sould be on the cards too.