games / Reviews

Zeno Clash: Ultimate Edition (XBLA) Review

May 18, 2010 | Posted by Trace Aber

Game: Zeno Clash: Ultimate Edition
Genre: Action and Adventure
Players: 1-2 with online and local support
Developer: ACE Team
Publisher: Atlus U.S.A., Inc.
Rated T for Teen

Zeno Clash is the story of a young man named Ghat, who has recently turned on his hermaphroditic parent, Father-Mother, and has aroused the anger of his massive and influential family. Zeno Clash is also probably the only game that features a hermaphroditic character, so points for that. While that is a bit different in its own right, the game gets even weirder when you realize Father-Mother is some deformed creature that clearly must be from hell itself and your family consists of several different species of life. Ghat and his friend Deadra flee from town to escape from Ghat’s family, who are determined to kill him for harming the Father-Mother.

After you get past the rather odd story you enter an even stranger world populated by human-animal hybrids, dinosaurs, and some downright weird creatures…the majority of whom would like to see you dead. The world itself is filled with strange scenery and it appears as though the rules of our world are far different from Zenozoik. Zeno Clash creates a vivid and strange world that also manages to capture some beauty in its beast-like appearance. You’ll definitely spend some time just wandering around looking at everything the game has to offer.

Like this horrible abomination from the worst of your nightmares

The story is entirely linear though engaging. It’s a slightly familiar plot with some unique twists to it, and the ending it definitely surprising. Ghat and Deadra spend most of their time exploring the world and running into a variety of angry creatures, which leads to combat. Deadra rarely helps you out in these battles, so most of the time it’s you against two to three enemies.

Combat is primarily hand to hand, and considering this is a first person game, it’s difficult to adjust at first. The camera shakes with each blow and even though you can lock onto your targets sometimes it’s hard to tell if that punch is going to connect or not. Thankfully, the game provides several tutorials throughout the early portions of the plot that allow you to master the techniques quickly. Outside of your standard brawling abilities, you can also parry and counter your enemy’s attacks, though my favorite move is the running elbow to the face. There are a lot of skills to master in Zeno Clash, though you won’t have to rely on them too much due to the relatively easy gameplay.

Punching this guy? Easy.

In most battles you will also be able to find a handy weapon or two, which range from the fish gun to a good old fashioned hammer. The aiming for the guns is haphazard and most of the time you’ll want to go back to using your fists, though some enemies require the use of melee weapons to take them down. Ghat can also pick up skull bombs littered throughout the world, which cause a small explosion to take down enemies.

While the story will last most gamers anywhere between four to six hours, the game also offers co-op for pit and tower challenges, which has you taking on enemies as quickly as possible as you descend (or ascend) the stage. I found the experience to be laggy at times, but nothing that took away from the game. There’s also a Zeno Rush mode, which has you replaying parts of the single player campaign in the fastest amount of time possible.

The 411
Zeno Clash: Ultimate Edition is a unique brawler set in a beautiful world filled with strange creatures that provides a one of a kind experience that should be tried by any gamer. There are points where the game drags due to the repetitive nature of the fights, but the story is interesting enough to keep you going and some of the battles are really fun (the fight with the Hunter springs to mind).

-Unique premise and engaging storyline
-Graphically, the game is impressive
-Variety of methods to take out enemies

-Somewhat repetitive gameplay
-Laggy co-op
-Little replay value outside of time attack modes

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Trace Aber
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