Jan. 1, 1992
24.0 KB
9 / 9
3.88 / 5.00

Closer Look: Ezanya

By: Dr. Dos
Published: Sept. 21, 2018

Commit war crimes in the name of the king in this early fantasy that stands the test of time

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It's not that the game nosedives in quality or anything. It's just that the key provided is white. And there's been a white door in your home for the entire game. Although the king does say it's for the underground, unexplored doors on those boards aren't even presented as if they're meant to ever be opened. It's very easy to just go in this passage.

And going in this passage skips two quests and leads up to the final level!

Not that I had any idea of this, and my screenshots continue happily along this invalid path until I make it to the final boss fight and find myself unable to defeat them. So don't mind my screenshots jumping from 165 to 229 here. I'm trying to present the game in the order it's intended to be played.


What the player is supposed to do with the white key, is return to the Dwarven Citadel and explore deeper inside of it, where there's this strange sort of puzzle room.

Honestly, this room feels really out of place. It's kind of ugly, the puzzle is not well constructed, and its lacking anything that really indicates it as being part of a fantasy setting rather than a Town derivative.

The goal of the puzzle is to reach the sceptre at the end by using bombs to blow up the breakable walls. Shooting is disabled, and the player has to watch out for spinning guns, and some enemies behind duplicators. There are also pushers that can inadvertently block off progress and force the player to restart.


The one ongoing threat is this bat which swoops across the lower area and generally gets in the way of things. It can push away bombs, and bite the player to harm them directly.


Ultimately though, the puzzle feels way too basic. Bombs can be pushed into other bombs which makes it easy to pile several up (and even if you don't, decent placement can get you through with only a handful of explosions).

The vast majority of the board can be ignored, and while there are some gems offered, the extra health and purchasing power gained from them is hardly worth risking even a single explosion.

This board is easily Ezanya's low point, and just feels weirdly unpolished compared to the rest of the game, which still has its issues, but looks to be the work of somebody who knows what they're doing in general.


Weak puzzle or not, the reward is still the sceptre, a clearly powerful artifact that very clearly is made by, and for, the dwarven peoples.

Off to Exasperata it goes!


Finally, a bit of doubt in our protagonist's mind. But the king's powers at this point don't give much of a choice.

Just one treasure left. The crown.


For the final artifact, the player has to return to the caves they began their quest, but this time open the gates to the Dwarven city and pillage it for the crown.

The one way conveyor gate is no longer an issue as the lower door now opens freely, letting the player get right to their destination, unlock the gate, and proceed inside...


Dwarftown (it's always called Dwarftown so it must be here as well) is arranged into three levels, with an elevator that moves between them. It's very clearly inspired by the elevator in City's City Hall, but travels a lot faster since it only moves in a straight line, making the waits much less tedious.

The objective is the throne room, where the king of the dwarves will fight to defend his crown.


Much like the citadel, the player can explore the area freely, opting to collect keys to open other areas. I began in the center right level since it had a duplicating tiger, something I didn't want to get out of hand.

Inside, a patrol of dwarves are in battle positions and will repeatedly fire at the player. Some boulders can be pushed around for cover to get past safely.


After clearing out the tigers with one of the bombs, there's a dwarf the player can speak with to... purchase a toy in the warzone. I love that the player has an option to just kick the dwarf.


Needless to say, he isn't a fan of being kicked, and will fight back. But that's not the way of a hero.

Paying for the toy results in getting a cyan key to a chamber in the top left portion of the room whose use will soon be made apparent.


The dwarves who fortified themselves on an island can't be defeated with bullets, but they can be taken out with a well placed bomb. That clears out the remaining danger here until the player can get a blue key to the dwarven prison.


In the top left area, there are a few more enemies behind duplicators, some spinning guns, and a pusher that's hitting an invisible wall.

Opening the cyan door lets the player hit a switch that destroys the invisible wall, making the pusher block off the guns and open passage to the red key. The tiny room also has two potions, which are once again telegraphed by their names being "Healingpotion" and "Uckpotion". The uck potion is non-lethal, but will hurt the player if they drink it. After collecting the red key, the player can move to the bottommost level and head towards the residential area.




Pulling the lever opens up one path, but closes the other. This is another easy softlock if the player isn't careful. The solution is to actually take a boulder from the middle-right chamber in the elevator and block the path of the pusher so moving the boulder will let the player escape later. Once inside, it's just a matter of shooting the tigers, grabbing the key, and snagging a few gems on the way out.

There are a pair of doors on the bottom of the board, but nothing connects to it. You could technically hold on to the yellow key all the way from the opening caverns and actually open one of them up, but they're intended to be decorative. Something to imply that there's more to the lair than just what's depicted on this board.


The next area to open up is the middle level's left chamber. There's a few blink walls, conveyors, and guns to evade, but most of the shots just get blocked by the rays anyway.

The green door leads to a storage room filled with picks and minecarts. Though they're in good shape, unlike the ones in the upper caves, the player can't take any of them.


They can however examine a particular cart to find the purple key to the throne room! Not a good spot to leave it.


Let's be real here. Even if the ZZT player doesn't realize it yet, they are totally the bad guy here. The dwarven king is the last one left to potentially stop a disaster here.


Like Exasperata, shooting this king also doesn't work very well. This battle will be settled in close quarters combat. I guess the player has a sword? Was that mentioned?


There's no real nuance to the fight. Just touch the king until he dies. Once defeated, the walls that make up the throne become fakes and the player can enter the transporter and obtain the final treasure.


I fucking love that the player wears it themselves. There's no doubt. No remorse. The protagonist is just blindly loyal and everyone is going to suffer for it.

  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •
You see a battered, beaten old dwarf.
As you sit down beside him on the ground
where he is shackled he slowly raises his
head and squints at you. With his first
parched words, comes recognition.

   "Who..Ah. Friend of Salkan. Friend of
Earth. What sorry ends we reach. They
blamed me for giving you the Signet Ring.
They blamed me for allowing the dragons
into the caves. Fault no longer matters.

    He seems to trail away, then, from
unfathomable depths returns to speak.

    "Here, take the EarthSword, hero!
It is rising! Without this, you will
be powerless against the demons, but with
it you may strike them down! I shall
await you beyond..."

    Doc collapses, exhausted, or dead.
From the floor by his side there is
gentle glow which brightens into a
searing glare which you must shield your
eyes from. As it fades, there stands
suspended a sword of such minerals as
you have never seen, glowing with a power
that can only be supernatural. Unbidden,
it leaps to your hand.
  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •

The vault also contains the key to the jail where one of the dwarves happens to be Doc from the gates.

The dwarves believing Doc to be a traitor are... pretty valid honestly. At this point the person Doc helped has killed a lot of dwarves and stolen a lot of treasures, and make it clear to Doc that getting these treasures was their intent the whole time.

The demons wouldn't be so powerful if the player didn't constantly go around handing them powerful artifacts! Doc still has full faith in the player that they'll make things right, and really the player is the only one who can make things right, but these two dorks basically really screwed up.

Doc gives the player the EarthSword, which is the only weapon that will let the player kill the demons. This is what's necessary to defeat "Exasperata".


Again the protagonist finally shows some doubt to their actions, but it's far too late, and they hand over the crown to Exasperata who then promptly vanishes while laughing, which is a very bad sign. The only thing the player can do at this point is take another nap.


_Now_ the white key is meant to proceed into the passage here on the board. Really this is Daggert being a victim of ZZT not having good ways to force transitions. The Koopo method of using a duplicator and a player clone was years away. The transition here is very weird because of how it needs to be tied into there being another passage on the board that went inside a cabinet. There's not even a "step into the passage" like many games would do. It's happening without acknowledging that this is a ZZT game.


And so finally, I'm back on track with when I accidentally went through this passage earlier.

During the player's sleep, the demons launch their assault, smashing the town to pieces, and setting several monsters loose.

The player happens to be a heavy sleeper.


A lot of the remnants of the town have new text describing their sordid state.


The most important change is that the river has overflown its banks and the bridge to cross is destroyed, forcing the player to take the northern path in order to get anywhere.


Another dragon is wandering the mountainside, and isn't shy about heading down into the forest. Just like before it only takes a few shots to dispatch them, but now it's much more difficult to avoid a confrontation.

Neither the entrance to the dwarf's cave or citadel remains. Though whether that's just to prevent the player from going back there or meant to tell us that they've been wiped out is left up in the air. Things are not looking good.

Exploring the mountains is still worthwhile though as there's one last potion lying where the citadel passage once was. It's the last source of healing for the player.


The eastern bridge remains intact, and if the player explores the rest of the board they'll be rewarded with some supplies. The torches are naturally revealed as they're visible in darkness, but they correspond to the outer forests of the village in daylight so the player won't know they can actually collect them unless they put in the effort to do so.


The gate to the palace is sealed tightly, but a little magic from beyond the grave opens them right up. For all the very stupid things our hero has done, they've still been chosen to defeat the demons.


There's definitely some tension as you approach the throne. Exasperata isn't there, instead it's just another dragon. The dragon begins moving as soon as the board loads, which is a bit of a let down to having them sit on the throne and wait for the player to appear before them.


The gates to the inner palace open after defeating the dragon, letting the player proceed ever closer to Exasperata.


The inner palace is a hideous yellow. There's a complex system of pushers and sliders that looks far scarier than it is, four dragons in small rooms waiting to be released, and and the end of it, Exasperata's chamber.


A scroll nearby warns that anybody who seeks an audience with the king must be found worthy. Except Daggert puts it in a far more badass sounding way.

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