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Thursday | September 20, 2018
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Zeno Clash (PC)

Zeno Clash (PC)


Zeno Clash is an independent first person game based on Valve’s Source engine. It has been getting much acclaim since its release and developer ACE Team have managed to create something original and entertaining.

It is important to point out that Zeno Clash is not a first person shooter, but is more a first person ‘action’ game as the focus is more on kicking and punching rather than simple firepower. Yes, Zeno Clash is an independent title which allows you to mash, punch and clobber the weird and wacky enemies you encounter.

The story is the weirdest thing I can remember in recent years and it revolves around your character, a weird looking dude called Ghat (!?) who is trying to run away from his family after killing his father-mother. You will note I didn’t say parents because his Father-Mother is actually a single entity, a huge bird like hermaphrodite who gives birth to both animal and humanoid offspring. You don’t make this journey alone and are joined on your travels by a rather pretty female, who looks like an extra out of the Mad Max films.

Fleeing into the wilderness you are attacked by a huge plethora of mutant creatures which range from the bizarre to the stuff of nightmares. By the time you reach a masked creature called Golem I am positive that you will find it hard to get a restful nights sleep! After their encounter with Golem they decide to return to the start to deal with the situation at home. While this sounds like a pretty straightforward story line, the way in which it is presented is extremely surreal and you only get snippets of information via flashbacks which you piece together to form the bigger picture. Initially I felt the whole thing was very disjointed and nonsensical however when I completed the game I realised that the overall concept was actually quite clever and artistic.

The core of the game is the combat and it is surprisingly well constructed considering the small size of the development team. I had a few issues with the finer touches, such as correctly timing blocks to counter an enemy attack but generally it is a fun experience that is quick to learn and offers some depth for those willing to spend time enhancing their combat tactics. There is certainly a great feeling of being able to lodge your knee into some weird alien creatures face and hear them groan in pain! If you can imagine a free for all futuristic style boxing game and you get the idea.

The gameplay outside the combat is limited as basically you travel between sections to fight a specific number of creatures that get in your way of progress. These creatures are often repeated from location to location with the difficulty ramping up later in the game by adding more of them to fight during each battle. This is unfortunately pretty much all the game throws at you in regards to making it harder, it merely adds more people to fight at any given time. There are boss fights, and normally this means you have to pick up a melee weapon to cause them any damage as your fists just aren’t potent enough to lower their health. By the time the game is near the end you have to fight more than one boss in a fight which proves rather tricky as you may be handling one while the other jumps on your back and pounds you into the ground.

While I mentioned that there isn’t much diversity with many of the enemy units, there is a quick transition between the levels which will ensure that the game is a faster pace than many so it is hard to get bored in a specific environment for too long.

Graphically the game isn’t bad, but it certainly isn’t up to the best Source engine work we have seen from Valve in games such as Half Life Episode 2 or Left4Dead. This seems a rather obvious point however as the development team are a tiny group from Chile this is quite understandable. They compensate for this with a very distinctive art style which adds a lot of atmosphere to the overall experience. Unfortunately the voice acting is much weaker and quite often it sounds like they are reading from a page rather than acting the roles. Its a minor point which doesn’t ruin the overall product.

Zeno Clash comprises all the unique and original ideas you expect from a small creative developer which works outside the confines of a ‘work by numbers’ corporation. When you consider the very low asking price and the memorable scenes which will seep into your consciousness, it is certainly worth the investment. Just be sure not to play before going to bed because some of the imagery seems to be sourced from nightmarish dreams.


The combat is fun and entertaining enough to last the 4 or 5 hours of gameplay time.
The source engine runs well and the dramatic art style is effective and leaves a lasting impression. The texture work is quite often lacking in refinement however.
Dialogue has suffered in translation but the background music is dramatic enough.
Such a low cost for an original game is a bargain.

Very creative and hopefully we see more from this developer in the future.

About Author

Stuart Davidson

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