Let’s be honest. Zeno Clash was a rather strange game. Sure, the concept was simple enough, first-person brawler in a strange land and time period where players beat the crap out of enemies. The story and feel of the game was certainly peculiar, but the game play was sound. Now, Zeno Clash 2 has arrived with some new upgrades and yet another unique story.
Players take control of Ghat, the main character of the first game. Events of the original pour into the sequel by having the Golem now rule the city after jailing Father-Mother for kidnapping his “children.” Ghat and his “sister” Rimat begin to question the Golem’s ways and devise a plan to break Father-Mother out of prison. The game very much assumes players have already played the original and understand what has happened up to this point.
The game play is simple in concept, yet deep in several ways. Punching is achieved by using the right or left triggers (or mouse clicks) Depending on how the button is pressed and how long it is held down, the range, power and combo set up can vary. Certain button combinations can be performed to create some devastating attacks that send the enemies flying. There is a block button as well that is used to stopor parry incoming blows with the right timing, or even dodge attacks thrown at the player. With a simple three button set up, the combo system is rather deep. For added power, certain combinations use up some of the rage meter. When the rage meter is full, players can unleash a special attack that disposes enemies in a flash.
Ghat not only takes on enemies with his fists, but also with a variety of weapons found throughout the game. Primitive firearms can knockout foes from a distance, and crude hammers and clubs can bash baddies’ heads in with one swing. There are a number of specific weapons Ghat always has on him that unlock throughout the story. These can be used in combat but are mainly for solving simple puzzles. One may require the player to point the weapon at the sun in order to shoot an energy charge across the area while another can link two enemies together so that one can damaged while being life-linked to the other.
Players can also take on small side quests away from the main story. Items usually only fill health and rage, and weapons have a limited number of uses so I never got anything that permanently aided me. Discovering certain totems and other area items can give the player skill points to place into stats as well as raise Ghat’s leadership. Leadership is required to recruit new party members to call upon during combat situations. If AI partners take too much damage in battle, they may take time to heal, so they will not always be available to help out.
The story is quite the strange tale. Players that have never played the first game may very well be lost while playing Zeno Clash 2. It got so strange at times, that I even got confused while trying to figure out all the cryptic messages. The voice acting is serviceable in parts but Rimat’s performance in particular felt forced and bored. Towards the end of the game, I was already glazing over the story bits just to get to the next fight.
Those looking for some co-op fisticuffs can get it in the form of two-player mode through the story. The partner takes control of Rimat. It’s always fun to have a friend helping with the pummeling.
For the price, players can get a relatively fun beat ‘em up. The combo system is surprisingly deep and the co-op is fun to play. Sure, the story is overly strange and the overall plot is a little out there, but beating the absolute crap out of humanoid beasts and birds never really gets old. There is some fun to be had in Zeno Clash 2 as long as you keep an open mind when it comes to certain mechanics and the outlandish story.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.