Dialogue is important to balance in games. Too much and you have a book. Too little and you just have a bunch of moving images. Walking away from Gift of Parthax, you have a game that shows that a strong game can prevail despite too much dialogue. (That's called foreshadowing!)
The story – whoa buddy. You're a young mage named Arif. There's a sick wizard and a healthy wizard talking to you. Humans and magic people have strife. You need to rescue your friend FROM a wizard - Parthax. So rescue – that's the motivation. I think. There is a TON of exposition here played out through really annoying scrolls. You're pretty much reading your game for a huge chunk of it. Yes, you fight all of Parthax's friends on your rescue, but all of the exposition comes out so unnaturally and almost forced. I wish it was gradually revealed instead of brought forward in chunks. It's not a bad story, and it has some god writing, but it's presented so off-puddingly that you just want to skip all dialogue at times.
Controls are pretty good for Steam. Since you're running around dungeons you need to find ways to confuse enemies and dodge fast, and the controls don't disappoint – they react quick, are intuitive and fit the style of play really well. Not much more you can ask of an indie game.
Gift of Parthax decided to go with the 'retro yet modern' style of graphics. And truth be told, it's not the worst rendition of it. Some indie games look like Atari 2600 ports. Since they decided to go with that 45 degree angle looking down camera view for combat, some things are a bit skewed, but that's the worst I can say. For pixeled images, everything is pretty clear. The colorations are...interesting, but the art makes a really fun style, with great looking monsters. It distinguishes itself among the art style, which is harder and harder to do nowadays.
Gameplay is pretty basic. You're either talking to people, which like I said before, makes you really want to click through the dialogue really fast, or you're fighting. Fighting is the simple 'stuck in dungeon and fight mini waves of enemies and sometimes a boss.'. You have runes and spells and things, so you can take them down, but they'll shoot back or try and kill you back. What I liked was that there is strategy here. Random rocks for cover, and ways to try and confuse them and hold them back while running through the debris makes it challenging, but also fun. Honestly, a good job here....mostly. A huge down turn is how paper scrolls appear above nearly everything (all with this annoying 'scroll' sound of paper opening). This was just a terrible idea, because you don't really need to know what everything is since nearly all of it is self-explanatory. Games should ever assume the player is an idiot like this.
The music in this is pretty good. It's standard fantasy/battle fantasy. It's better than most, because it also conveys a sense of atmosphere. It's engaging, changes with what you're doing, never sounds repetitive and is something I'd listen to on it's own. It's not like a Fallout theme, but it didn't try for a retro soundtrack and stuck with the good stuff. Sounds though are pretty basic. Not much else to say besides you will hate the sound of paper rustling because of all the scroll sounds that pop up.
The frame rate was great, but there were a few glitches that popped up. The biggest was more cosmetic than anything. Whenever you shot spells, and your back was turned, you would still shoot spells the same way, so it looks like your shooting spells without looking behind your back. Again, cosmetic, but it looks so wrong. I also had more technical issues with debris during fights. A few of those rock things would sometimes block, sometimes not. Being that inconsistent means that you can't trust the terrain sometimes, which is a real problem in the middle of fights. Mostly good overall though.
Parts of Gift of Parthax can be frustrating, and parts can be a joy. I'd say the fun parts outweigh all the negative parts, and if you can forgive the endless, needless dialogue and scrolls, you'll have a pleasant little dungeon fighter with a good soundtrack to boot.
Final Score: 7.6 out of 10
A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of review.