"This game made my wand shiny and long." - An unknown wizard in training after completing his trial
"My fireballs became gigantic!" - Junior summoner who survived the ziggurat
So. Ziggurat. How do I sum it up, in short, it's Hexen. Given a coat of paint, made modern, put in a pseudo-random roguelike coat of armour and sent trundling out into the world. You pick a class (initially one, but there's a ton of unlockable classes which add a wide range of variety and options) and you enter the ziggurat, a five (or six in hard mode) floor chock full of things to kill, loot to gather, and levels to gain. You'll pick up a variety of interesting weapons which depending on what you find will define your playstyle, and you'll grab level up perks and various boons and debuffs which will customise your experience with each run. As is normal for a roguelike, when you die, that's it, your score is totted up, and you're sent back to the beginning.
So, is it any good?
Oh god is it good. Seriously, stop reading, go to the buy button, press it, smear money on your screen, buy it now. Buy it this instant, no, really, I'm not kidding. If you loved Hexen, or Heretic, you do not need to read any further, if you love old school FPS games, you do not need to read any further, if you love hard FPS games which do not involve regenerating health and re-introduce the concept of circle strafing (because you'll be doing a lot of that), then you do not need to read any further.
The graphics are lush and detailed, with plenty of enemy variety now, there's skeletons, slimes, goblins, orcs, demons and carrots, yes, carrots. Carniverous blighters that will eat your eyeballs given half a chance. The enemies do a decent enough job, the AI is simple, but effective, melee mobs will charge at you and wail on you, ranged mobs will hang back and shoot at you. There's enough going on that you're never given much peace once the room locks down and the arena for that given room is up and running, and the room layouts are varied with enough visual detail and variation that you won't get bored. These are places you will enjoy roaming through, the ziggurat is well textured and the tileset has a nice feel to it, the connecting corridors are more than just bolt-ons that connect the rooms together, they have incidental detail too, and on occasion come complete with traps to catch out the unwary.
Sound is reasonable, it does the job, the weapons are meaty enough, the creatures are varied in their noises, and the background incidentals are all fine and well, there's some background music when it's needed but this is not a game that drowns you in sound, it's there, it does what it needs to do, that's about the size of it. Gameplay however is -stellar-, the controls are tight and responsive, shooting feels satisfying and tactile, and there's a pleasing feel to all the spells available, you'll quickly find favourites and ones you detest, and you'll grit your teeth if you get a bad draw, but you'll jump for joy if you get the ones you want.
The bosses put in a reasonable show, each having their own quirks as well as being solid bullet sponges and being a good test to ensure that you do know how to avoid big nasty fire as it comes heading your way, the challenge really ramps up in the last couple of floors, with damage coming thick and fast and specific builds coming into their own (hint : bloodlust).
The sheer variety of classes, coupled with perks and the number of additional features the developers have crammed in over the life of early access (the number of weapons now is something like 28 or so split over the three types - spell, stave and alchemy) such as challenge rooms, shrine rooms, trap rooms, obelisks and so on, and the additional decorations and incidental detail, the developers clearly made this a labour of love. This is the game they -wanted- to make, and it shows.
In short, if you have a love for shooters, particularly if you have any recollection of Hexen or Heretic, you owe it to yourself to buy this game, you will not regret it. This Tiger approves, and will see you in the tower, best of luck.