I still remember when Zack Zero first arrived on PSN over a year ago. The bright art style and promise of 2D glory drew me in, and mostly satisfied my craving. Crocodile Entertainment is now bringing that experience to PC users, with enhanced visuals and added content, as well as the promise of future, free additions, making this the ultimate version of the game. Those that have never even heard of Zack Zero, and enjoy the genre, should definitely check out this under-the-radar title.
If you want to read our console review, click here to see Drew’s thoughts on the PSN version.
For those that have never played the game, Zack Zero is a 2D, side-scrolling action game that focuses on elemental combat, and some light Metroidvania elements. Switching between elements is as simple as tapping the trigger buttons on an Xbox 360 controller. Each power has a cool down that keeps players from spamming them constantly. The game starts off with Zack completely maxed out, and after the intro level stripping all his powers away, forcing him to slowly earn them all back. It is the quintessential game power-tease, and gives incentive to want to level up.
A large emphasis is placed on combat, and it works on most levels. Each element offers a unique attack such as projectiles for fire, while rock lets Zack pummel enemies at close range. I found dealing with two or three enemies perfectly serviceable, but once they tossed in more, things become cumbersome. Attack speeds are hampered by animations, and enemies could quickly get the drop on me. I died more often than I probably should have, until I learned that the best way to dispatch enemies is baiting them out. Dealing with them in small groups is the only way to stay alive, and it really eliminates the need for strategy or element changing.
The sad part was that the combat never really progressed. The same tactic worked time and time again, and switching elements was never a necessity. The game only spans about three hours, and while completely enjoyable for that short stint, it is worth noting its briefness. Zack Zero never evolves either. The same tired platforming sequences are repeated over and over, and leveling up skills never felt satisfying.
Probably the biggest offender though came in the form of glitches. I found myself stuck in geometry, lost behind bad checkpoints and constantly falling off invisible platforms. There were several instances where I had to restart areas because I fell off, or into the world itself, which triggers a cut scene of Zack falling in a truly poor resolution. It is disappointing that my enjoyment was often hampered by the fact that I could not progress due to these issues. Thankfully I powered through them to the end, but it is something that should surely be addressed.
I love how the game looks. The 2D style, mixed with 3D backgrounds really stands out. The color palette is also very bright, and appealing. I wish the enemy and boss designs were more lush, though. Zack also feels like a generic Ben 10 clone with no real personality. Still I cannot stress how much the bright design helps get past most of these shortcomings.
Zack Zero is a decent game with some technical and design issues. I love what the team is attempting to do here, and perhaps with time they will perfect it. If anyone enjoys the style of game, there is a solid experience beneath the rough exterior, albeit a little short. For $10 it is hard not to recommend, as long as you know what you are getting into.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.
- Motherboard: ASUS P8Z77I Deluxe
- Liquid Cooling: Origin Frostbyte 120 Liquid Cooling
- Processor: Intel i7 3770K with Professional Origin PC Overclocking
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- Graphics Card: EVGA NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670