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Video Game / Ziggurat

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Ziggurat is a video game first released on Steam on the 23rd of October 2014. It blends a high fantasy setting with old-school First-Person Shooter gameplay in the vein of Heretic, with a side of Roguelike, featuring randomized levels and equipment drops as well as final death.

Its plot puts you in the shoes of a student in the Greyhorn citadel, studying magic with aspirations of ultimately joining the brotherhood of Daedolon, the ancient protectors of the lands. Every ten winters a ceremony is held in which worthy students enter the legendary Ziggurat filled with dangerous monsters and traps, to test their abilities. Only those that make it through alive are granted membership in the order.

Will you be one of those that make it through? Or will you be yet another casualty of the Ziggurat?



It was followed in October, 2021 by the sequel, Ziggurat 2.


  • 100% Completion: Exploring all, or nearly all, of the rooms during a run of the normal game (minus secret rooms) gets you the Golden Ending.
  • Action Bomb: The Yellow Chili enemy explodes upon death.
  • Alchemy Is Magic: Present as one of the 4 available weapon types.
  • Abandoned Mine: The Emberstone Quarry level has this aesthetic with railway tracks with mine carts on them to be found in certain rooms.
  • After Boss Recovery: Bosses always drop a lot of health potions and mana gems when defeated. Whether it's enough to restore you fully is a different matter altogether.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: There's one: You have the option of saving your game and exiting after a level, allowing you to return to that run later and take a break. However, starting a new run will delete your save. You can also save & exit mid-level and return to that exact spot later.
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  • Automatic Crossbows: The Frostbow repeat-fires bolts that can freeze enemies, and avert No "Arc" in "Archery".
  • Asteroids Monster: Green slimes which split into yellow slimes. Blue golems split into red as well.
  • Atlantis: Explicity exists in this setting, and represented by the Atlantean Spear, a staff weapon. It's mentioned to be a typical service weapon of their people, its design unchanged for millennia.
  • Battle Cry: Referenced with the War Cry perk, which causes you to recover a small amount of health at the beginning of a fight.
  • Blood Magic: Referenced in the perk "Blood Rites".
  • Boss Battle: At the end of each floor of the Ziggurat and the second game's random dungeons. Which boss that appears is random on each floor save the fifth (on Normal difficulty) and final one of the Ziggurat.
  • Boss Room: The end of every floor is one of these, to which you need to bring the boss key, defeat the boss and then proceed through the created portal to progress to the next floor.
  • Boss Subtitles: Present, giving a feel as to what kind of challenge the boss is supposed to represent. (They also ensure you'll recognize the final boss immediately, if there was ever any doubt.)
  • Breath Weapon: Referenced by the Dragon Bile spell, the primary fire of which is a spray of poisonus vapor in the manner of a dragon's breath. There's also the Lich's Breath spell, but despite the name its shots are Energy Balls instead.
  • Character Level: With each level up your maximum health and mana go up and you get to choose one of two random perks, or three if you have the Bookworm perk.
  • Classical Movie Vampire: Corvus the Vampire certainly looks the part.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Champions, which are green (Faster), blue (Tougher), red (Hit harder) and invisible (Invisible).
  • Contractual Boss Immunity: Bosses cannot be stunned or frozen. (Poison does still work, as do fields of fire, wind or more exotic forces — of course, if you can last long enough to kill a boss that way, you've earned your victory.)
  • Convection Schmonvection: Lots of lava around. Only hurts you if you step into it.
  • Creepy Cathedral: The Cursed Cathedral floor.
  • Damage Reduction: What the perk "Thick Skin" does.
  • Deadly Training Area: One of the supposed purposes of the Ziggurat.
  • Deal with the Devil: Simon the Sorcerer made one of these to obtain his powers, trading away half his life (and half his future healing) for great enhancements to his ability to gather and channel mana.
  • Defence Mechanism Superpower: With abilities that increase your speed when hit or give you temporary invincibility.
  • Dem Bones: Bone Rangers, Bone Sentries, Bone Shieldmen, and Bone Summoners.
  • Developer's Room: A version of it. Secret rooms can appear in the levels and are found behind breakable walls. These contain a random perk as well as a stained glass window featuring an image showing one of the developers' past games. When approached they give you some trivia on the game in question.
  • Discard and Draw: One of the favors from elder gods, which might be a blessing or a curse, depending on how much you like your current equipment. There's also a perk called Shuffle does the same thing, but it also increases your new weapons' fire rate in the bargain.
  • Distaff Counterpart: Carina the Apprentice, added in an update, is otherwise identical to Argo apart from her gender.
  • Dungeon Crawling
  • Eldritch Location: The Ziggurat. A structure that, despite being entered from an underground location and despite having multiple floors, still has rooms on each floor that are capable of displaying an open sky. Its randomized layout with each playthrough is also a product of this property in the lore.
  • Elemental Powers: Present in many weapons and amulets.
  • Elite Mook: Champion enemies.
  • Enemy Summoner: Shamans, who summon Carrots. Bone Summoners call a skeletal entourage. Most of the bosses have summoning spells as well.
  • Energy Absorption: An ability the player might acquire.
  • Energy Ball: The shape of most your attacks, in one way or another.
  • Everyone Has a Special Move: Everyone has a unique wand which functions in unique ways and fires different patterns and powers of projectiles. They act as your backup weapon and always regenerate their ammunition.
    • The sequel gives each character a unique active ability, and wands are no longer character-specific.
  • Equivalent Exchange: Usually what Divine Indifferences entail; losing something to get something else. Whether these are actually of equal value is debatable, however.
  • Experience Booster: What the "Scholar" perk does.
  • Experience Points: Acquired from knowledge gems dropped by enemies. They disappear after a set time, penalizing players who play too defensively by losing the experience they could gain from them.
  • Eye of Newt: How alchemy supposedly functions. Amusingly, potatoes are referred to as a core component of many healing mixtures.
  • Fantasy Character Classes: Quite a lot of them, with the twist that they are all also wizards.
  • Fantasy Metals: Referenced by the description of the Magnus Rifle in the sequel, which says it uses a "forgotten metal" to achieve "impossible speeds."
  • Final Boss: The boss of the Augur Fortress serves as this.
  • Fire Balls: Primarily featured with alchemic weapons. The projectile isn't necessarily supernatural in nature, however, but made from some sort of abstract alchemic mixture.
  • Fire, Ice, Lightning: All present and accounted for in the weapons and some of the amulets. The sequel adds three new wands that can each do one of these: the Incinerator, the Icicle, and the Thunderspark.
  • First-Person Shooter: But replaces guns with magic — excepting some of the alchemy weapons, which are both.
  • Flechette Storm: The Porcupine Bomb alchemy weapon has the player lob a spiky, glowing green orb. It explodes on impact, releasing spikes in several directions that will poison enemies on contact. Alternate Fire has you lob three of them at once. The Polar Blast does something similar — only it freezes enemies instead.
  • Floating Platforms: Appear in a few places. One possible Portal Key room has these, as does one kind of Challenge Room, complete with lava beneath.
  • Flunky Boss: Every boss is this, but special mention goes to Poloko the Master Shaman, who spawns lesser Shamans, which in turn spawn Carrots.
  • Flying Face: The Lost Souls, flying skull enemies and their King Mook variant, Sir Arthur. You can launch flying skulls of your own as explosive projectiles with the Skull of Xanatos spell.
  • Glass Cannon: Simon the Sorcerer and Osuna the Bard. Jules the Harlequin and Cid the Seer can also count, but don't start with inherent offensive bonuses.
  • Green Rocks: Mana gems which come in blue, green, and orange, corresponding to spell, staff, and alchemy weapons, respectively.
  • Hell-Fire: The Hellish Ember spell can be nothing but.
  • Hitscan: Completely averted in the first game, unsurprising given the game's design sensibilities. The Doombringer alchemy weapon in the sequel uniquely plays this straight however, with full-auto primary fire.
  • Hollywood Acid: The Green Pepper enemies leave a pool of this behind on death, and the Basilisks can spit it. Can also be found in barrels.
  • Holy Hand Grenade: The Divine Wrath staff. It's a scepter with a cross-shaped head, a glowing cross on the grip, and fires cross-shaped, high damage projectiles at either high speeds or with a guaranteed stun.
  • Homing Projectile: The Eagle Staff/Eagle Claw and the Skull of Xanatos, Wraith Rings, and Bloodlust Needles spells all fire seeking projectiles of various types. The sequel adds wands that can do this, the Thunderspark and Windleaf, and another spell, Spectral Bolt.
  • Interface Screw: Some special room conditions cause this, which includes effects like hiding parts of your HUD, causing you to jump uncontrollably, and making your vision pixelated.
  • Invisibility: One of the properties of champion enemies as well as a possible room modifier which makes all enemies invisible.
  • King Mook: The Blob King of Slimes comes complete with a crown, but all the bosses are in some way a natural extension of a regular enemy type.
  • Kill It with Fire: There are several fire weapons, but only the Flameweaver/Fireweaver Bomb leaves behind lingering flames at the point of detonation. Careful not to step in them yourself!
  • Lightning Gun: Present in both single-target focused or multiple-target chained staff versions.
  • Macrogame: Completing at least one floor unlocks new weapons, perks, and amulets that can appear in subsequent runs.
  • Mage Marksman: Pretty much everyone, with magic artifacts instead of guns for the most part. Actual guns are present among the Alchemists' weapons, however.
  • Magical Accessory: Magical Amulets.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: As far as gameplay is concerned. You need a specific weapon to cast a spell and only that weapon can cast that spell.
    • There's a bit of Gameplay and Story Segregation here. It's possible to convert a weapon producing a magical effect into a new wand (with reduced power), and the gods can likewise convert weapon types into each other. But new weapon models and animations to reflect their new nature don't exist, so things look the same.
  • Magical Gesture: Part of how spells are launched.
  • Magical Incantation: The use of magical spells. You need to have the spell book as reference, however (which is to say, you equip the spell book).
  • Magical Society: The Wizards of the Greyhorn citadel, the Brotherhood of Daedolon.
  • Magic Mirror: Present as a perk, which reveals the entire map of all floors on your current run.
  • Magic Missile: Referenced by name in one of the perks and also featured in nearly every weapon you have at your disposal.
  • Magic Missile Storm: Spells tend to be these. The Freezing Hail and Hellish Ember spells combine it with Beam Spam, with Secondary Fire launching a rapid stream of projectiles.
  • Magic Mushroom: Particularly evil ones present as enemies to fight.
  • Magic Staff: Present as one of the 4 available magical weapon types.
  • Magic Wand: Your infinite ammunition backup weapon.
  • Magikarp Power: With sufficient Wand Boosts, your Magic Wand can do much more single-hit damage than most other weapons. Get lucky enough in a regular run, and the Final Boss will fall from your wand spray in seconds.
  • Magitek: Alchemic weapons seems to incorporate mechanical components yet still use mana (perhaps solely for the sake of simplicity). How much they do so varies by description, but doesn't affect gameplay.
    • As an example, the Retribution is stated to be an overall blend of magic and tech, while the Doombringer is explicitly an ordinary firearm, but loaded with magical ammo.
  • Mana: The name of the magical energy in use, with 4 differently coloured flavours for wands, spell books, staves, and alchemical items.
  • Magma Man: the Magma Rifle and its big brother, the Magma Blaster.
  • Malevolent Architecture: The Ziggurat's hazard rooms are most certainly this.
  • Mana Drain: A negative property of some rooms as well as an ability the player can acquire.
  • Mana Potion: Well, gems, but works the same.
  • Meditation Powerup: The perk "Meditation" that refills your mana reserves.
  • Money Spider: Doesn't matter what you killed, it can still drop a golden goblet, health potion, or magic gem.
  • Mook Maker: Obelisks, which continuously spawn enemies in a room until destroyed.
  • More Dakka: The Eye of Twilight staff weapon behaves like a machine gun, firing a rapid stream of projectiles. Its Secondary Fire spews them even faster at greatly reduced accuracy.
  • Multiple Endings: Determined by how many (if any) rooms you skip clearing, or if you cheat. There are 3 endings in total.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The Anguish Cannon. Yeesh. It fires lightning orbs that deal high damage and penetrate enemies. There's also the Catapult of Doom.
    • The sequel gets in on the action with the Doombringer, an assault rifle with cursed ammunition.
  • No Fair Cheating: Entering any cheat in the regular game prevents the player from getting the Golden Ending, and any kills made while cheating do not count towards unlocking new characters and items until the next non-cheat run is completed. Some cheat codes also have negative effects (see Shout-Out).
  • No-Sell: The "Ignore Wounds" perk gives you a percentage chance to simply not feel any given attack. (The normal rate of incoming fire tends to subvert this trope's effect, but it can be played pretty straight against things like Storm Beasts.)
  • One-Hit Polykill: Both games are very fond of this trope, with more weapons having penetrating attacks then in most FPS games.
    • The Archangel's Embrace spell fires a vertical spread of pink projectiles that pierce enemies.
    • The Lich Breath and Dragon Bile spells in the sequel can do this with primary fire, as can the Rotten Orb with Secondary Fire.
    • The Magnus Rifle, also of the sequel and also with primary fire. It takes the Mighty Glacier aspect of Alchemy weapons Up to Eleven.
    • The Solar Staff and its successor, the Solar Guardian.
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Vaguely implied. It's hard to be certain as they are merely referenced by the sequel's Dwarven Blunderbuss weapon, but its appearance and description are suitably dwarfy.
  • Order Reborn: What the apprentices Argo and Carina hope to bring about in the sequel.
  • Permadeath: If you die, you lose everything and have to start a new game from Floor 1.
  • Pinball Projectile: The Scarab Beetle staff fires clusters of red projectiles that ricochet off solid surfaces, making it lethal in tight quarters.
  • Plot Coupon: The portal key you must find in order to fight the boss and progress to the next floor. A lesser form can be found in "Scavenge" rooms, where you must collect glowing purple crystals to turn off enemy respawning.
  • Power at a Price: Several of the perks, which includes ones like decreasing your maximum health for greater potion effects or more perks right then, or increased mana in exchange for lesser potion effects.
  • Power Echoes: In one of the endings.
  • Power Floats: Same as above.
  • Power Glows: Same as above. Although one could argue that all the magic featured in the game glowing qualifies as this.
  • The Power of Love: Presumably what the Power of Heart staff runs on.
  • The Power of the Sun: The Solar Staff weapon. It acts as a kind of Sniper Rifle, firing high-damage, fast-moving bolts that can penetrate enemies, but with a slow fire rate and high mana cost. It also has a good chance to stun. In the sequel it appears as the "Solar Guardian", where it instead sets things on fire and the Alternate Fire creates slow-moving projectiles that seek out additional targets if they hit an enemy, while retaining the primary fire of the original.
  • Power of the Void: The Dark Cannon creates miniature black holes that continuously damage enemies that come into contact with them. It doesn't act like Weapons That Suck, contrary to most "black hole guns".
  • Powers Do the Fighting: There is not a single attack in the player's arsenal that doesn't involve magic of some sort.
  • Random Drop: What weapons and amulets you find in the levels are entirely randomized. Their properties, however, remain consistent.
  • Religion Is Magic: The nature of the shaman's powers, which are fueled by their spiritual beliefs.
  • Recursive Ammo: The sequel's Energy Blaster can do this with its Secondary Fire, shooting a single shot that splits into a cone of projectiles. The Firestorm Grenade can also function as a cluster grenade. The Secondary Fire of the Magnus Rifle combines this with Pinball Projectile, specifcally targeting other nearby enemies with the Recursive Ammo.
  • Respawning Enemies: If there are obelisks in the room, enemies will continuously respawn until those are destroyed. Also happens in "Scavenge" rooms until you collect enough crystals.
  • Rewarding Vandalism: Barrels and stacks of books can occasionally contain health potions and mana crystals. There is also a perk called Wrecking Ball that allows you to recover health from destroying any level object, even blowing out candles!
  • Roguelike: Incorporates many elements of it.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: A lore page offers this theory of what the Ziggurat is, and that those that perish within it act as sacrifices to keep the can shut.
  • Secondary Fire: Every weapon, including your humble wand, has one. The second attack is usually something slower and higher-damage, the same as the primary fire but with more projectiles, or inflicts Status Effects.
  • Sentry Gun: The Lidless Eye spell creates one in the form of a floating, glowing eyeball that shoots at nearby enemies.
  • Shock and Awe: The Arcane Storm spell can zap targeted enemies with bolts from above, or from the caster. The latter always stuns the target.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: The sequel adds a Dwarven Blunderbuss, a high damage Alchemy weapon that can fire a larger and more damaging blast as an Alternate Fire.
  • Shout-Out note 
    • Doom — Lost Souls, the helmet-adorned flying skulls, which use the exact same attack and movement patterns as their namesakes. Also, the achievement for dying 50 times is titled "Hurt Me Plenty", after the difficulty level of the same name. The sequel adds Nightmares, flying demons that strongly resemble Cacodemons.
    • The Serpent Staff is based upon its namesake weapon from Hexen. Also, Daedolon was the name of the playable Mage in that game. The staff was renamed the "Twin Fang" in the sequel, but still functions the same way.
    • The Power of Heart "staff" is a pretty identifiable magical girl wand.
    • Certain Classic Cheat Codes from Doom and Heretic can be used, but will have disastrous effects. IDDQD, for example, will kill you instantly, just as it did in Heretic! Using any of them will award the "Cheat Like It's 1994" achievement.
  • Short-Range Shotgun: The Hellish Ember spell's Secondary Fire is a large clump of fireballs that disperse widely beyond a short distance. The sequel adds the Chill Splinters spell, which fires a wide spread of said splinters at one time as its Secondary Fire.
  • Simplified Spellcasting: Have the appropriate wand/staff/book/tool? Congratulations, you can now cast their respective spells.
  • Spell Book: Present as one of the 4 available magical weapon types.
  • Spiders Are Scary: Surprisingly there don't seem to be any Giant Spiders around, but the sequel's Arachnid Rime staff seems to be intended to invoke this In-Universe, being modeled on a species of spider that freezes prey for later consumption. Eek.
  • Spikes of Doom: One of the possible hazards you might face.
  • Spread Shot: The Undead Scepter staff fires a horizontal spread of projectiles, five with primary, or ten with Secondary Fire. The Viper Fang and the Archangel's Embrace spells also count, as does the Serpent Staff/Twin Fang.
    • In the sequel, the Arachnid Rime staff does this, with the Secondary Fire in particular firing a sweeping burst that oscillates back and forth. It also adds a wand, the Soulcutter, that can fire three or seven shots in an arc.
  • Standard FPS Guns: All present in the guise of magical wands, spellbooks, staves or alchemic implements.
  • Status Effects: A number of weapons can inflict Stun, Freeze, Poison, On Fire, to name a few, however what the game terms "Stun" is in fact Slow, affecting enemy movement, and attack speed.
    • The sequel adds a "Curse" status, which inflicts a Damage-Increasing Debuff. The Undead Scepter can now do this, along with the new Lich's Breath spell and the Doombringer's Secondary Fire. Inversely, some banshee and zombie variants can now do this to you, as well as raddishes, a new spin on the carrot enemy.
  • Summon Magic: Enemy Shamans and Bone Summoners. Some of the weapons also allegedly function by summoning spirits or other supernatural beings, but these generally only take the form of some sort of homing projectile.
  • Summon to Hand: Several perks and divine favors summon a weapon or amulet directly to your hands.
  • Supernatural Is Purple: The supernatural comes in all kinds of colours, but your wand always uses purple mana and usually produces purple projectiles. (Carina's cosmetically changed hers to blue, and wands producing status effects may be color-coded as well.)
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Aside from the exploding chili enemies, the sequel adds the "Retribution", an alchemic rocket launcher that can fire one rocket at a time or a burst of three.
  • The Heretic: The impetus of the second game's plot was the appearance of many of these in the Daedelon order, whose use of dark magics led to a schism, civil war, and eventual destruction of the order and the Ziggurat itself- letting loose its imprisoned monsters upon the world.
  • Theme Naming: The active skills in Ziggurat 2 all have names starting with an "S".
  • The Red Mage: Argo and Carina the Apprentices yet again, as befitting their Jack-of-All-Stats role.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: The Augur Fortress. Even titled the final floor.
  • Scroll of Eldritch Lore: What you bring back to signify your success.
  • Tornado Move: The Whirlwind of Ulthar spell generates magical tornadoes that travel straightforward and damage any enemies they contact.
  • Training the Gift of Magic: What you have been doing in preparation for entering the Ziggurat.
  • Underground Monkey: Blue and Green slimes.
  • Unequal Rites: Implied that the older mages look down upon the abilities of shamans, but still show them respect. (Shamans treat magic — the exact same magic other mages use — as though it came from various deities and spirits; there's no in-world evidence one way or the other, but shamans clearly have The Power Of Faith.)
  • Unfinished Business: Discussed in the description of the Ghost enemy in the sequel, where the idea that ghosts exist because of this is probably a hoax.
  • Universal Poison: Excepting Obelisks (which aren't alive or animate), poison works on everything. Poison-producing weapons typically have the lowest base damage but are the most mana-efficient ways to kill, and if you can survive well enough to employ them work well against swarms.
  • Video Game Dashing: The sequel gives every character a dash move with a short cooldown. Useful for evading those pesky carrots. Certain perks and blessings can affect it, such as giving you a brief period of increased fire rate after dashing.
  • When Trees Attack: Carrots, Rotten Stems, and Audrey — Mother Nature Incarnate.
  • Wizarding School: What you, the player, have been attending. The Ziggurat is your final exam.
  • Worthless Yellow Rocks: Treasure in the first game doesn't normally do anything except add to your score. However, a perk you can get allows you to gain experience from treasure. Averted entirely in the sequel, where coins you find can be used to purchase items from a Dungeon Shop as well as permanently upgrade characters and equipment.

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