by Amber Hall
reviewed on PC
A Gathering of Magic
Gift of Parthax is an arena brawler where you play as a young wizard fighting for your friend's life. There's a small hub-world and some slight story elements, but the game's focus is on fighting onslaughts of enemies and learning new spells. This is all presented in a beautiful pixel art style that pairs perfectly with the game's fantasy soundtrack.
The combat system in Gift of Parthax is entirely magic-based, but that doesn't mean it's all shooting different types of elemental energies from your hands. There are actually a few different magic types besides just the usual elemental ranged attacks, including AOE traps and strong attacks that rain from the sky in the form of thunderbolts or meteorites. That's not to say that these attacks aren't at least based in the different elements, but this typing is used more for enemy weaknesses while still offering some strategy in your attacks. It's satisfying to funnel a group of enemies though and obstacle and spring traps on them all, dealing massive damage.
Moreover, each spell can have a variety of runes attached to it. Each rune has a different passive effect that has a chance of triggering whenever an enemy is hit with the spell it's applied to. This means that there are loads of different ways to play and deal with every situation. In the beginning, the arena battles aren't too difficult. However, the game slowly adds more and more enemies as the player progresses, each with different weaknesses and attack patterns. Traps work great for slow-moving ground enemies, but flying ranged enemies will need to be taken care of differently. The player only has a limited number of spell slots to use in battle, so it's always important to plan which spells to take into a fight.
Devotion For Potions
Battles are usually a set of three waves, gradually consisting of more enemies of different types. After each level, the player has a chance to restore their HP and mana in the hub-world. This won't seem too important in the beginning parts of the game on normal mode because enemies are pretty easy. However, you'll be thanking your lucky stars for these moments of rest as the game progresses and tosses you into harrowing battles filled with different enemies that all want you dead. Moreover, you'll need to heavily utilize the shop between battles to restock on potions and runes to give you an edge in battle.
A WAND-erful Presentation
Visually, the game is quite pretty. It can be dark and gritty but the lighting adds a bit of magical atmosphere to it all to really make you feel like you're up against something dire. I'm always impressed when pixel art games make use of lighting effects, and with all the glowing magic and monster attacks, it really does capture those good fantasy vibes I would expect to see in a game like this. The music ties the whole experience together perfectly too. It's loud and fun and really fits with the game's overall visual style. At times, it can feel a bit repetitive, especially in the battle sections, but I'm willing to let that slide because my mind is usually more focused on the horde of enemies rather than the music at that point.
Other than that, the only real issue I found was an unresponsiveness from NPCs when I clicked on them to interact with them. It became extremely annoying that whenever I tried to click on the store clerk nothing would happen until I began clicking the NPC sprite all over until I either gave up or the game graced me with some dialogue. Eventually I figured out that there was also a hotkey for this, and luckily that works one-hundred percent of the time.
A Fun, Strategic Brawler
Gift of Parthax is a great game to pick up to have some truly difficult battles using different magics and strategies. The pacing is rather slow in the beginning, but I promise that the fights really pick up as the game moves on. Battles are kept fresh with different ways to play, various enemy patterns to learn, and even bosses to battle. Gift of Parthax is a game that's more about strategy and fun gameplay than it is about a plot that'll leave a lasting impression on you for years to come, and that's just fine.
Beautiful pixel art, fitting soundtrack, various ways to fight, lots of unique enemies
Unresponsive NPC interaction with mouse controls, slow-paced beginning, music can be repetitive