Zenith
Player's Guide: How to Play

Contents

Objective

Your consciousness occupies a synthoid shell, which starts at the bottom of an alien landscape. Your objective is to exploit the landscape and its resources to gain possession of the highest point on the landscape: the Zenith.

Quick Overview of Gameplay

  • You start at a low level on the landscape, occupying a synthoid shell with a few units of energy in reserve.
  • The Sentinel occupies the pedestal at the Zenith (highest point), standing dormant. That's the 'bad guy'.
  • The Sentinel is activated by any changes of energy in the landscape - usually by your first 'move', then it slowly rotates, scanning the landscape sector by sector, reducing anything on the landscape that contains more than one unit of energy, before moving on.
  • Your synthoid shell is worth three units of energy, so if the Sentinel sees you, it will try to scatter your energy.
  • You can create objects on any flat square or boulder that you can see, but this costs energy.
  • You can absorb objects on any flat square or boulder that you can see, to regain the energy.
  • You move around the landscape by creating a synthoid shell, and transferring your consciousness to it.
  • To reach higher ground, you might need to create a boulder, create a synthoid shell on top of the boulder, then transfer to the new synthoid shell. From the new position, you might see more flat landscape that you can use.

View from the Synthoid shell

The display is dominated by the view that your synthoid's camera sees.

In this example, the Sentinel can be seen in the distance, and a tree is available for absorption in the left foreground. There are lots of free squares where a new synthoid shell can be created.

A view from the synthoid shell
A view from the synthoid shell.

Status information

Status information is shown below the view. From left to right:

  • Your energy reserve, shown as a number, e.g. 11.
  • Your energy reserve, shown in terms of useful objects, e.g. 1 synthoid shell, 4 boulders.
  • A scanner alarm, which lights up orange when a scan is detected, and red when your energy is being sapped.
  • A green 'game engine activity' monitor. This does not have a bearing on the state of the game; it shows green when the game engine is working, and black when power saving is active.

Status information
Status Information.

The Map View

Press M to show or hide an overview of the landscape.

You can rotate this view by dragging it, and zoom with keys I, O or the mouse wheel.

The example shown here is a simple beginner's landscape, where the Sentinel is on the high pedestal, and the player's synthoid is on low ground.

Try not to spend too long looking at the map view; the Sentinel continues to scan while you do so!

The Map View
The Map View.

Energy

At the start of every game, the Sentinel already stands dormant at the Zenith, waiting for activity. When activated, the Sentinel will scan the landscape for objects that contain more than one unit of energy, and scatter that energy around the landscape as trees, worth one unit of energy each.

Tree
Tree = 1
Boulder
Boulder = 2
Synthoid
Synthoid = 3
Sentry
Sentry = 4
Sentinel
Sentinel = 5

Unluckily, your synthoid shell is worth three energy units, so if the Sentinel scans a synthoid shell, it will begin to sap energy from it. If your energy reaches zero, any further depletion of energy will destroy the synthoid shell, your consciousness will have no container, and the game ends.

Movement

At the beginning of a game, your synthoid will be standing on low ground, looking towards the Zenith. The Sentinel will be dormant, until there is a change of energy on the landscape. A typical starting position is shown in the Map View example above.

Looking around

When the game starts, you can look around without disturbing the Sentinel. Do so by dragging the view with your left mouse button, or using the cursor keys (press Ctrl for fine control with the cursor keys).

You may zoom the camera view using the mouse wheel, or keys I and O (pressing Ctrl gives you fine control over zooming).

How to Move

Your synthoid shell does not actually move around the landscape. Instead, you find a new position by creating a new synthoid shell, and transfer your consciousness into the new shell. The old shell will be left behind.

You must have 3 or more energy units in reserve to create a synthoid shell. To create a synthoid shell, point your mouse cursor at a flat square, and press R or 3.

To create a boulder, point your mouse cursor at a flat square, and press B or 2. Boulders cost 2 energy units to create, and if you have enough energy, you can stack more boulders on top of the first boulder to create a high column - upon which you can place a synthoid shell.

To transfer to a synthoid shell, point at it, and press Q.

First boulder
Boulder...
Second boulder on top
... + Boulder
Synthoid shell on top
... + Synthoid

Climbing Higher

Trees on the landscape: which can be absorbed?
Trees on the landscape: which can be absorbed?

Remember, your objective is to climb as high as you can, as quickly as you can, so that you can reach the Zenith. Also, if the square you occupy can not be seen by the Sentries, then they can not absorb your energy!

Hover your mouse over a landscape square, or an object, and press key A to absorb it.

You can only absorb an object when you can see the square it stands on, or if you can see the boulder it stands on.

In this example, you would be able to absorb the two trees on the left, but none of the others: the trees above are too high, and you can't see any of the square that the tree in the middle is standing on.

You are being scanned!

The alarm has activated - the Sentinel has seen you! Soon, it will start scattering any energy reserves you have, so you must move away quickly, to a place that the Sentinel is not scanning.

Near the Zenith: Defeating the Sentinel

If you have reached a point high enough, you will be able to look down at the top of the Sentinel's pedestal.

Only then can you complete the escape sequence to progress to the next landscape:

  • Point at the Sentinel or its pedestal, and press A or space;
  • Create a synthoid shell on the Sentinel's pedestal R;
  • Transfer to the new synthoid shell Q;
  • Transfer off the landscape Q.

The Sentinel is the last object that you may absorb from a landscape, so if you have time, absorb everything you can first.

You are high enough to absorb the Sentinel
You are high enough to absorb the Sentinel