Type-casting is the price many actors have to pay when success follows from a great role. It's why Robert DeNiro has been in so many crooked cop movies and Christopher Walken always plays the creepy guy.

Certain actors are just so good at certain roles that you want to see them again and again. But after a while it, inevitably gets old.

Zenonia 2: Lost Memories might have new characters, settings, and scenarios, but it recasts the same old skool role-playing of the first game.

While this ensures consistent quality, it also means the sequel doesn't move forward in a significant way. An array of minor changes make it technically superior, but the gameplay fails to advance from the original.

Touchscreen actors guild

One thing that you can be glad hasn't changed is the storytelling. Humour and cuteness abound in the story of four criminals-turned-warriors forced to track down mystical gems in the face of a mounting evil.

Playing as one of these warriors - the swordsman Lu, female gunslinger Ecne, magician Morphice, or martial artist Daza - you travel through forests, lakes, mountains, deserts, and dungeons seeking the gems. Each character has his own unique perspective, abilities, and even the occasional special mission, but the main quest is the same.

The opportunity to play four distinct characters gives Zenonia 2 superficial variety, but it doesn't at all affect the core game design.

In other words, the missions you're given remain unchanged from the rote fetch quests that dominated the first game. Just because you're able to shoot at a distance as Ecne or pummel enemies with Daza's swift moves doesn't change the fact that you're grinding.

Let's play fetch

Rather than seizing the opportunity to buck the increasingly antiquated notion that level grinding and fetch quests define the role-playing experience, Zenonia 2 remains far too faithful to its predecessor. The first two hours of the game consist of little more than errands to kill 15 of this monster and collect ten of that item.

To be fair, such tasks are offloaded as side quests the further you advance in the game, yet their frequent appearance demonstrates a lack of creativity.

Exploring Frosty Dungeon for the first time is fun; returning to it in order to hunt ice zombies for a fetch quest is boring. You've already defeat a bunch of them your first time through, why would you want to grind through another two dozen?

Interesting enemies, loot lust, and good character development systems keep you engaged. The desire to unlock new skills and more powerful equipment sufficiently motivates you through the most tedious of quests. Quirky characters also do their part to make the game fun, especially given their self-referential tendencies.

A low resolution return

Plenty of noteworthy changes have been made that deserve praise. Major improvements to the interface enable full touch control in menus. A customisable display enables you to adjust the size and placement of the virtual D-pad, as well as the arrangement of skill and item hot keys.

The addition of online battles extends the game's value, as do bonus items and quests when playing through again in Hell mode.

Enhancements have also been made with regards to the presentation, though they're difficult to pinpoint. The visuals carry subtle new touches such as weather effects (rain, snow, etc.), reflections in ice, and a clear new font for texts (a very welcome change), but the overall low resolution of the game is unattractive. The game appears hazy - the result of being ported from an older device.

Less effort was applied to enhancing the audio. Sound effects are missing in a number of areas, most notably when enemies attack. Watching an enemy explode without any accompanying sound effect represents the unpolished nature of the presentation.

Such an underwhelming presentation is emblematic of a typecast sequel. Zenonia 2 attempts to replicate the success enjoyed by the first game, but does so by too closely adhering to its predecessor's design rather than breaking out with much needed changes. It's an enjoyable game, as expected, just not amazing as hoped.

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