Xenia by Dimitrios Floros
Xenia is a side-scrolling platformer based on Greek mythology. While it’s perfectly serviceable as a basic action game, its challenge and presentation leave something to be desired.
The Man, the Myth, the Humble Blacksmith
In a brief introductory cutscene, Xenia introduces us to Ardas, a simple blacksmith who has taken it upon himself to rescue the kidnapped queen – the eponymous Xenia – from an evil wizard. Despite his humble origins, Ardas is something of a tough guy, complete with sword, shield and Corinthian helmet.
He can also perform double-jumps from the get-go (a talent presumably not listed on most Bronze Age blacksmiths’ resumes) and, after purchasing the ability in the magic shop with gold from vanquished enemies – fire magical orbs to take out monsters from a distance. Both skills will be necessary as he navigates a series of caverns replete with the expected hordes of spiders, bats and skeletons.
Not Quite the Labyrinth
Xenia is basically a standard left-to-right action platformer with sword-swinging. While there are occasional secret rooms and most levels offer a choice between a tougher platforming area or a boss fight, calling this a Metroidvania is a bit of a stretch. This is more Rastan than Metroid, and there aren’t a lot of opportunities for exploration.
That said, the action itself is decent enough, if simple. Jumping feels solid, and despite the usual “jump on moving platforms and don’t fall onto spikes” mechanics, Xenia doesn’t feel frustrating or offer punishment for the sake of punishment. If anything, it errs a bit on the easy side, especially once the magical orbs are unlocked. I rarely felt overly challenged, and I’m in no way a platforming expert.
The Achilles Heel
What really turned me off, though, had less to do with the mechanics than the presentation. The character illustrations are workmanlike at best, often outright ugly. The environments look muddy, too, with background and foreground colors similar enough to cause confusion. A MIDI soundtrack that always sounds slightly off-tempo doesn’t help the game’s overall mood, either.
Xenia is a one-man project, and it’s actually the first game from developer Dimitrios Floros, so I don’t want to judge it too harshly. It’s not a bad game, and Floros demonstrates a good understanding of platforming basics. On the other hand, with some of the brilliant Greek mythology-themed platformers out there, like the utterly gorgeous Apotheon from Alientrap or even Locomalito‘s similarly retro-flavored – and free – The Curse of Issyos, it’s tough to recommend.
Xenia is available via Steam.
Watch the official trailer for Xenia below: