Do you ever get in the mood where you just want to eat? You aren’t hungry, there isn’t anything good around to eat, but you just want to. As my mother and grandmother would say, “Sometimes you just got to nosh.” When in this mood you can discover a great new snack that joins your favourites. Other times you find something that helps you go through the motions of eating. You get no real enjoyment out of it, hell you may not even be paying attention while you’re doing it; you just are. Gift of Parthax falls into the latter camp. It’s serviceable and does the job, but it just feels empty.
That isn’t necessarily a bad thing though. Gift of Parthax finds itself in the position to become my next podcast game. Something I can do to keep my hands busy, while not taking too much brain power to distract from what I’m listening to. But if you are looking for something more, it may be best to wait for a sale on this title. The story is largely forgettable with character motivations seeming to exist for the sole purpose of entering gladiatorial battlegrounds. Wave after wave, chapter after chapter, you will find yourself fighting against increasingly powerful foes. For the most part none of them require any special tactics to get around aside from keeping your distance. The same goes for boss battles which follow the same formula, time and time again.
In order to survive each wave you cast a large variety of spells. One thing that Gift of Parthax does well is that it has a fairly large amount of spells and spell combinations. It accomplishes this by allowing you to attach runes to 4 different slots in each spell. If you add multiples of the same rune, that increases the potency. This can make for some interesting combinations where you have a chance to set enemies on fire with homing projectiles, or summon a creature that explodes upon its death. All of this is played out as a twin stick shooter, which is where some of the issues pop up. I almost never found myself using any of the traps simply because of the way they controlled.
When working with traps, unlike summons or projectiles, you can place them within a large radius around you. The issue is that you can place them independently of where you are facing, forcing you to track two moving objects in an already hectic and crowded field. I often found myself getting lost as a result of this awkward separation. With the exception of traps however, all skills work fairly well, and feel different enough to warrant specialising and focusing on specific loadouts.
There is very little that Gift of Parthax does exceptionally well. The art style is pretty at times, but tends to obfuscate and confuse when the battles get intense. Music starts off catchy but when the same tracks repeat endlessly you may find yourself turning it off. Combat is interesting with the rune system and sheer amount of possible loadouts, but the animations and fighting itself never come across as anything near immensely satisfying.
Instead, what we end up with Gift of Parthax on Xbox One is a solid game that exists in this weird ground; never really fun enough to play and focus on specifically, but not frustrating or bad enough to cause irritation. Gift of Parthax instead finds itself as a perfect ancillary game, one where you play it to kill time and keep busy while focusing on something else.