|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: ACE Team||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: ACE Team||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Apr. 21, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Pending||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
The fast-paced kung-fu combat is intense, and encounters against the varying numbers of the different kinds of foes you'll meet are far from dull. A lock-on mechanism lets you focus on one enemy at a time (and side step around them in circular fashion), but it can also be hard to disengage quickly, leaving you exposed to attacks from all sides if several opponents come at you from different directions.
Even at the easiest difficulty setting most humanoid creatures you encounter are worthy adversaries; they block, counterattack, and dodge with finesse. Receiving repeated blows from enemies can send you reeling or knock you down completely, making recovering from a poorly defended barrage a dizzying and frantic affair. This can make some of the game's later portions frustrating at moments when you find yourself pummeled from multiple directions and unable to get your bearings. The first-person slug matches feel surprisingly realistic.
How Zeno Clash progresses is also like a marriage of old-school fighting games and first-person shooter exploration. After initial cutscenes in each area followed by some minor exploration, a handful of enemies will appear and a brief duel screen (like in traditional fighting games) pops up to show you who you're facing. Defeating them is a matter of whittling down their health bar and delivering a killing blow by any means necessary. This lends an arena battle-like, overtly linear feel to the flow of the game that leaves little room for open-ended exploration. Fortunately, boss fights and different kinds of encounters in unique locations keep the formula from getting stale, and the amazing presentation and level design still make the world feel expansive and mysterious.
A combination of exciting, refreshing gameplay and the incredibly outlandish setting and characters really make Zeno Clash a standout game. It has all the style and pizzazz of a big budget production, but it's far more disturbing and creative than you're average release. Even with a story that never fully blossoms into something great and a few other limitations that arise, there's a lot to love about this unsettling adventure.
CCC Staff Contributor