Accessible graphical interface
No longer being updated
ZangbandTK is a variant of Angband, regarded by many as the archetypal Roguelike game. 'Vanilla' Angband is played in a setting featuring monsters and items from Tolkien's mythology, and Zangband (originally created by Topi Ylinen in 1994) adds elements from Roger Zelazny's Amber novels while injecting a healthy dose of humour into the game and expanding the game world. The archive we have for download includes the final releases of Tim Baker's sadly no longer updated TK versions of each game, adding a graphical interface and sound effects to the formerly ASCII-only games. This makes the game more immersive and easier to play, particularly for players new to Angband and Roguelikes in general. The difficulty is slightly higher in Zangband than Vanilla, so new players are advised to try the latter in the first instance.
Like many Roguelikes, the basic gameplay in ZangbandTK involves exploring a dungeon in search of ever more powerful items and greater treasures while developing your character and completing various quests - your ultimate objective is to defeat the Serpent of Chaos on the deepest level of the dungeon. Another genre staple reflected in Angband and its variants is that death is final - if your character is slain there is no way to resurrect her - the only record of her achievements is a log of her character file and her knowledge of monsters in the dungeon, which can be passed on to those who follow in her footsteps. It is very common for Angband players' characters to have names like Jimbob XXIV as testament to those who have gone before (or to the player's lack of imagination, perhaps). This can lead to some frustration when a character in whom you've invested many hours of playtime is slain due to your overconfidence, but the beauty of Angband is that in spite of this you keep coming back for more punishment - avenging your ancestors can be extremely enjoyable.
Where Zangband really stands out from the Roguelike crowd (with the noteworthy exceptions of NetHack and ADoM) is in the vastness of its world and the sheer number of possibilities for characters - there are 30 races and 11 character classes to choose from, along with 7 varieties of magic called 'spheres,' up to 2 of which are available to each character. Even after creation each character will continue to develop individually, gaining and losing stats and skills and even acquiring mutations (most common in Beastmen and Chaos Warriors). The dungeon levels are randomly drawn whenever you ascend or descend a staircase (or are teleported) although there are a few common layouts you'll quickly learn to recognise. Whenever your character enters a new level of the dungeon, after spending some time there she will develop a feeling for the 'quality' of the level, giving you an idea of whether it contains unusual items and/or monsters, or even an artifact - unique replica handbags items of extraordinary power which you'd love to posess. Common items like scrolls, potions, wands and staffs come in various 'flavours' which are randomised for each new character, preventing an experienced player from being able to identify them more easily than a new one.
The TK variant's graphics and sound are not as pretty as those in some other Roguelikes, but they perform their purpose adequately and still leave plenty for the player's imagination, which is half the fun of these games. Like many aspects of the game, including the mosters and quests, they are customisable without the need for recompiling. The graphical interface is a great simplification, saving the player from having to remember commands for actions and contributing a lot to the atmosphere, particularly in the towns. Angband also includes an online help file (accessed by typing '?') documenting almost every aspect of this deep and endlessly rewarding game, and including the Angband Newbie's Guide - strongly recommended reading for anyone venturing into the game for the first time. And that's an experience I'd recommend to everyone, especially those who find similar titles lack depth and longevity, or who had trouble coping without any graphics whatsoever in ADoM.
Review by: BeefontheBone
Editor's rating:Public rating:
Safe for all ages
Windows 9.x and above