It wouldn’t be dishonest to say that gamers are quite frequently hand-fed often high quality — but very by-the-books games with predictable narratives and mechanics that could be found in any “How To Make A Triple-A Game For Dummies” book. However, on occasion, players are treated to something so archly dissimilar, that they aren’t even sure what to do with themselves. These types of games push players along a path so foreign to them, they almost feel as if they were tourists in a nation entirely alien to them. Zeno Clash II distributes this feeling sevenfold, leading to comical results.
The game’s story sets the tone for this strange adventure. To set the stage for Zeno Clash II, a quick summary of the original is in order. The protagonist Ghat discovers that his bird-like caretaker “FatherMother” is not the hermaphroditic creature it claimed to be, but rather a male creature who kidnaps children from their parents raising them as his own. After the events of the first game, FatherMother is imprisoned for kidnapping, but Ghat soon discovers that he is the lesser of two evils. While the tale is convoluted at best, it does take some interesting turns, and adds texture to the melting pot of weird that is Zeno Clash. And while the game’s voice acting isn’t very good at all, it sort of fits. Not to say the game isn’t good, but the stiff dialog does little harm, and actually adds to the oddness.
The game’s combat system is about as simple to learn as it is unique. While those who are familiar with fighting games likely wont be wowed by the games basic combat i.e. punching and blocking, the fighting as a whole goes much deeper than that. With a boast worthy amount of combos and few gadgets thrown in over time, combat remains enjoyable for a majority of the game, and is occasionally broken up by simple puzzles. Also worth noting is how hilarious looking the combat is. While kicking someone while they are on the ground is quite common in third-person fighters, it’s all the more hilarious in first-person — at least for a while.
Despite its attempts to break up its action every once in a while, towards the end of the game the combat began to roll into tedium. I often found myself running from random encounters in an effort to progress in the story rather than take part in a fight that likely wouldn’t benefit me at all besides allotting me a small amount of XP to put towards a slight improvement in one of my few skills. Not that the combat isn’t fun, but seemingly fruitless encounters begin to pile up towards the end of the game that I felt were worth bypassing.
I’m really liking the indie-uprising that’s been going on for the last few years. It sort of hearkens back to the early years of gaming where a willingness to take risks can be found. While it’s far from blemish free, anyone looking for a unique experience will find plenty to love in the world of Zeno Clash II. Its goofy charm will be enough to get players through to the satisfying end. And despite its shortcomings the journey it provides is an enjoyable one. And most importantly of all to mention, few things are as satisfying as preforming a piledriver from the first-person perspective.
Editor's Note: The change in the review header-layout is bugging me too. Let's hope there aren't too many games in the future that use dark text for their logos.