Zeno Clash Review
Built upon the famed Source engine by Valve, Zeno Clash's main draw is not necessarily its combat, which is a mixed bag of first person melee and strange gun play, but instead it's cast of characters and landscape. Drawing from all points East of obscure and strange, each character seems to be lovingly crafted from the depths of insanity, complete with their own quirks. One of my favorite characters is certainly the antagonist, Father-Mother, who is a bird-like creature who has given birth to the protagonist as well as dozens of others. Hearing it talk and seeing it move, has granted me with a very uneasy, haunting feeling that is not easily matched and rarely seen in games.
Ranged weapons however, feels forced, uninspired, and a bit overused. They generally seem like they are odd for the sake of being odd, one particularly egregious example is the akimbo fish guns. With such a great melee system, the only reason I can think of to include them is an attempt to break up the combat to avoid monotony. While the goal is sound, I can't help but think that it would have been best to stick with the very satisfying hand to hand stuff, and skip the guns altogether. Nothing stinks more than getting into a sniper duel, with a rifle that, by design, doesn't have a scope.
In general, I feel it is a bit difficult to convey the tone and experience of Zeno Clash in words. It is something best experienced for yourself. Being an independent developer often allows for much more freedom in game development due to not having to constantly answer to a higher, and often more powerful publisher. Sometimes taking chances doesn't exactly pay off, sometimes it pays off in spades, and more often than not, it hits somewhere in between. Zeno Clash is one of the few games that lands in the upper tier of the indy scene. It isn't the longest game in the world, and it certainly isn't perfect, but at $20, it is a fresh step outside the normal comfort zone.
- Satisfying and entertaining melee combat system
- Superb art design and direction
- Well written and well execute plot
- Could use an extra coat of polish
- Guns aren't great at all
- Fish Guns