Zeno Clash

This post begins with some old material that may or may not be worthwhile and/or on-topic. A review and my thoughts on the game are below.

Humble Bundles will one day take over the world with affordable small robots equipped with just enough tact to introduce themselves into your home and steal all your belongings. It will be the punishment for paying only $1 for multiple games, including Zeno Clash.

I keep myself relatively well-informed about how gaming is growing, but I can honestly say I had no idea that any game like Zeno Clash had come out. Of course, I have an interest in apocalyptic punk stuff, but not typically enough to try something like this. This game seemed similar to Kenshi, from the looks of the art on the page, so I bought it thinking I would delve into Dwarves at least. It’s proven to be a good decision.

The story and setting are hard to explain, since they both defy many things that are normal in a typical story or real life. A giant bird thing with a jacket full of babies immediately becomes a fixation, whether you like it or not. An abrupt beginning doesn’t leave much time to question that or the other weird people and creatures that populate the strange world, although there’s still plenty of time to get acquainted. Zeno Clash manages to be one of the rather rare games that offers a whole alternate to the reality we know and love. Most of the game takes place in short scenes, either action-based or otherwise. Gameplay consists of an interesting take on first person melee combat, handing the player control of a child of the aforementioned bird creature named Ghat as he is concluding a plot to kill his Father-Mother. The tutorial is handled by an enigmatic figure in a dream who insists that you are not dead, who is introduced as Metamoq, until it is revealed that you have survived a blast from an explosive.

The Father-Mother (tall bird creature) has been slain by your hand, but it was nearly your own demise as well. Instead, Ghat recovers and flees from the scene as his stunned brothers and sisters pursue him through their settlement. They quickly catch up after Ghat meets up with a girl called Daedra  (no relation to The Elder Scrolls, I hope), allowing the first opportunity for a real fight and taste of the game.

Now imagine all of that with sepia tone, because it’s one of the fabled posts that I started and never finished sometime in early 2014. I’m not really sure what I was going for with my approach to this game, but it was going to be long-winded and boring. I’ve said most of the interesting parts but then somewhere along the way, I decided it was better to give a comprehensive synopsis of the whole damn game. Because I was baffled by this logic upon re-reading it (and my girlfriend likes to see such things if I’m going to mention them), I couldn’t bare deleting it all. With that, I’m going to continue on how I should have in the first place.

Image from Neoseeker modified for French Wikipedia

Zeno Clash is certainly a different kind of game, with its bizarre setting and unique control feel, but it manages to pull off the whole deal quite well. Even now, a whole year later at least, I can recall some of the most interesting parts as well as some of the frustrations. Fighting the Hunter always provided a nice shock of challenge, even if it felt a bit unbalanced at times. The first-person combat was slightly jarring for a while but after some time playing it and reflection on other games with first-person melee combat, it doesn’t feel bad at all. The close quarters weapons work very well and the combat feels nice, and the longer ranged weapons are all exotic but familiar. Perhaps it’s only from not having played either game in some time, but some of the ranged weapons in Zeno Clash remind me of Oddworld Stranger’s Wrath. It could be a genuine feeling or one produced by poor memory and similarly foreign surroundings. Either way, Zeno Clash is an entertaining and compelling experience even a few years after its release. Anyone who has considered it but not taken the plunge, or been turned away initially by the setting and characters, should definitely give the whole game a serious try.


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