XBLA Review: Zeno Clash

Zeno Clash has been a game of interest ever since I first saw it on Steam. The idea of melee in the first person and a combat system to support this commanded my attention. Previously playing, and enjoying, Mirror’s Edge I was interested to see how they tackled hand-to-hand combat up close and personal. While Mirror’s Edge was different in the sense that it wasn’t about the combat as much as running away from your opponents, there was a combat system in place. I found it quite clumsy and awkward, enough reason to stick to running away for the most part. However the idea was interesting and Zeno Clash is here to display it.

Woman with big hair and Ghat

The story starts out with you, Ghat, escaping from a town and constantly being chased down by your brothers and sisters, as it seems they are very intent on putting your head on a pike. Apparently you had killed their, and your, parenting figure (known as Father-Mother). Obviously being a big no-no the fight to escape begins.¬†What struck me, wasn’t so much the revenge and escape plot, but moreso with the actual characters. If you take a quick look at any screenshot of the game you’ll notice odd looking NPCs and game world inhabitants. It’s quite bizarre to come across three opponents that look like a bird, a man-ogre and just someone who has, what appears to be, a kettle slammed on his noggin. Your female companion is touting a wicked afro complete with two boney spikes poking out from either end. Are you sold yet? It really is quite odd – and that is exactly what I liked about it. You’re in a different universe and you won’t need long to confirm the fact after you’ve loaded into the game.

“Odd Ball”

As for the combat system – it’s quite refreshing to not have to rely on bullets, ammo and aiming as much for once. While this game does contain¬†weaponry, it isn’t always crucial (apart from some key battles) and thats the way I like it. While FPS isn’t a key factor, FPP (First Person Puncher) is. This does work, especially when using controller over a keyboard and mouse, and is quite simple to execute. You have a normal and powerful attack and in combination with directional movements and your sprint and block buttons you will discover how to pull off some funtastic combat. The decision comes in knowing when to use and execute these movements while being aware of other enemies in the nearby area.

My main faults with the game, on 360, were required shooting elements. I found it quite difficult to aim and shoot at times, as I do on many FPS titles that are on console, but probably more so in this title. However, thankfully this is a minor part of the gameplay and whenever possible I was punching and beating down these fine feathered freaks as often as possible – quite rewarding on its own to be sure.

Thwack! Biff! Bam!

On the whole, I found the package of Zeno Clash to be entertaining enough to fulfill me for the several hours spent in the world of Zenozoik. It certainly fits well with the current range of downloadable games on offer on the Xbox Live Arcade. If there are future adventures in this odd-ball world, you can sign me up for the madness.

Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

About the Author

Dan co-hosts the Gameolio Podcast and handles the administration of the website. Occasional poster and frequent deleter with a strange love of the colour green.