Now from what I can make out you take control of a neon frog halfway through its development from tadpole to adulthood, as he makes his way across a drug-fueled neon vision of the giant’s causeway!!! (Yes you read that correctly) Sounds fun? well, let’s dive in and take a look.
ZIQ looks great, sharp contrasting neon blues and oranges highlight a hexagon runway, a soup of toxic sludge lies underneath the tiles, its basic but that’s all the game needs. One subtle touch is the dimly seen highlights on the side of the running track flash with light along with the beat of the music. Other than that there’s really not a lot to talk about.
You run forwards, hardly groundbreaking for an endless runner I know but the heart of the game is the mini-games along the way, you run along 3 tracks, left middle and right all the while dodging walls, rivers of toxic green goo and colored barriers your little “frog” friend must match in order to pass. Coupled with this are coloured spheres you can collect, match the colour sequence at the top of the screen for a bonus to your score. Over time you get to new stages with increasing difficulty, vanishing floors, obstacles appearing from nowhere and shorter times to react.
While all of this is going on a faceless entity in the game taunts you as you play, negging you to improve, mocking your deaths, clearly inspired by the game Getting Over It. where the developer takes on a similar role.
So we have our main gameplay, optional tasks while running to boost our score, a voice in our head telling us to improve and its all in service of!? Gaining a high score, yep the game just wants to see how far you can get, having played a multitude of endless runners over the years this is the minimal requirement for your game to technically be a game, there’s just no reward system. This is the dealbreaker for me, ZIQ is littered with “sticks” encouraging to you improve but no “carrot” as a reward and a challenge without a reward is a chore.
Wheres the content to unlock? Different game modes? New characters with new abilities? Something to make you feel you’re progressing towards something.
ZIQ’s music is fantastic, it perfectly fits the tone of the game, badass wolf shirt clearly has some talent, it doesn’t take a front row seat as your busy reacting with your eyes but without it, the game itself would be lifeless.
This feels like a highly polished college or game jam project. The work is there but it doesn’t amount to a rewarding experience.
The design is just flawed, ironically an endless runner with limited replay value. If you enjoy the repetitive gameplay and improving your reflexes for its own sake then this is the game for you. You can get far more game time for your money from anywhere else on steam. If you really want it I’d wait for a sale.