There are times where I feel like I repeat myself much too often, and especially so when it comes to games based on movie licenses. With the exception of Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher’s Bay and to some extend the Harry Potter series, such games have always been disappointing, mostly because they’re release to cash in on the movie’s success, and cannot stand firm on their own. Well today we are checking out a game based on the movie Zathura (think Jumanji in space). So does this manage to make it a more capable video game? Read our full review to find out now!
So going into this review, I actually had high hope for this game. Having not seen the movie myself, I can’t really comment on how accurate the game is in relation to the movie, but the premise behind the movie should make for a very interesting video game.
So the story of the game I would imagine follows pretty closely to the movie, and it seems as though it never strays away from that plotline. Basically the game is about these two brothers who are left at home alone and they get into a fight and the younger one finds a board game in the basement. Basically he gets his brother to come down to the basement and the young brother starts the game by reading a card. Like Jumanji, now that the game has begun you have to finish it and in this stories case you have to complete the game to get back to Earth.
So you have the story, which I hate to say just feels like a total Jumanji rip off. With that being said, the game really doesn’t keep you all that informed with what is going on. It feels like they just expect you to have seen the movie before playing the game, as the game leaves some loose corners open. In the game you actually get to play as both brothers and a robot that makes his appearance a little later. Basically what you can expect from this game is just a standard children’s action game that doesn’t really ever try to take things further.
The combat depends on which player you’re playing as, as this is where you will find things to be a bit shallow. Both brothers that you will have control of aren’t the toughest guys of the bunch, therefore you will find that they don’t have really any overbearing abilities. The youngest is set to just using his weak sling shot and the oldest can just swing around his weapon and has a bit more agility. And then the robot himself is pretty limited to just a few little moves that he can perform to hold his own.
The big problem with Zathura is that the gameplay is just plain boring and unimaginative. There are a few boss fights, but these are actually worse than what you find just throughout the normal running of the game. I just couldn’t help but find myself extremely disappointed to feel how utterly simple they let this game be. I have no problem with games trying to focus on an idea and going for it, but at least try to do that idea well. There is nothing "fundamentally" wrong with this game, but there is something wrong with the fact that you continue to do the same thing over and over again. I hate to say this, but everything that you find in Zathura not only has been done a thousand times before, but it has been done a thousand times better as well.
Visually the game suffers along the same lines as the gameplay, just not as severe. The game is really just bogged down in the presentation by pure mediocrity. The character models are decent with some detail and some color, and the environments have some detail and a hint of variety. The big issue with this game is not so much that the presentation quality is horrid, but instead that the developers never tried to take this game any further than just plain average. It just seems like they were content with bringing to the market a semi-decent looking title.
If you can’t tell already, I just really did not enjoy my time with Zathura. And what really bothers me is that it seems as though the developers knew that they could have made this game great. Zathura just never once tries to expand on any of these fundamental ideas. Instead it just leaves it as the picture perfect example of what a standard action game from five years ago would look and play like, and that is not something you want your game to be. Even children who loved the movie are going to find the quick frills of Zathura to be few and far between.
I am not one who likes to totally rag on a game, as I know countless hours have gone into creating them, but it is games like Zathura that just on occasion bring this side of me out. I just look at Zathura the game and see a good storyline, and gameplay that if really properly developed could have been truly entertaining. But instead we are left with a product that just never gets its feet off the ground. With all its flaws and unimaginative gameplay, I really cannot recommend Zathura, even for fans. You have been warned.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.