Zeno Clash II is the sequel to the award winning First-Person brawler by Ace Team. This time with the help of Atlus, Ace Team has brought back the world of Zenozoik with a number of new features and a more open landscape for players to enjoy. Unlike the typical First-Person Shooter, Zeno Clash II players primarily engage in fisticuffs. Players will punch their way to the shocking and twisted events of the story, while punching the lights out of any moving creature just for the fun of it. The punk fantasy visuals are truly unique, and the games touted combat system is back in rare form.
Previously, Ghat, discovered a secret about his clan leader, Fathermother, which resulted in his exile from the clan and the eventual awakening of Golem. After defeating Fathermother and his clan in Zeno Clash, Ghat returns as the protagonist of Zeno Clash II, along with his sister, Rimat. The revealing of Fathermother’s secret has apparently landed Fathermother in prison and broken up the clan. Set in Zenozoik, a pretty trippy fantasy world, Ghat plans to take down the seemingly all powerful Golem who put himself in place as a ruler of sorts, due to suspicions that Golem has bigger, more sisnister plans that he is hiding. Rimat, on the other hand, simply wants to do whatever it takes to free Fathermother and reunite the clan.
The story keeps a clear and consistent theme, even while being weird and ridiculous. Players won’t get confused with the overall goal and missions within the story. The story keeps interesting, and players will find themselves wanting to reach the conclusion. However, the story does hit a few dull points. The game really showcases quality entertainment value in the gameplay, more so than the story.
Zeno Clash II is exactly what one might expect from a First-Person Brawler, except the mechanics and combinations are pretty legit. The game features a level-up system that allows the player to upgrade Health, Strength, Stamina, and Speed. In the early stages of the game, it can be difficult to string together effective, lengthy combination because of the player’s lack of stamina and other skills.
Fights are usually settled with Fisticuffs, but there is also an assortment of temporary weapons placed around the map. Most weapons are just a variation of clubs, but there are guns too. Guns come with a limited amount of ammunition, and can be used as a club. The same as clubs and other melee weapons, guns eventually break after being used for melee.
Unfortunately, no game is perfect, and yes there are a couple of annoying glitches in the game. When using a melee weapon, players will sometimes find that their character is unable to attack or even drop the weapon. This glitch sometimes just takes a few minutes to snap out of it, but other times players must be hit by an enemy in order to break out of the glitch. Player may also find themselves stuck and unable to move in awkward spots, such as in a tree. All games have glitches, and there have definitely been more annoying ones than the ones found in Zeno Clash II, but these glitches should be noted.
Zeno Clash II has an extremely beautiful, punk landscape. Each of the sections of the world has its own unique feel to it, and maintains an excessive amount of “weird.” From the Family Plaza, a village with a range of unique residents, to the rancid Coast, visuals of the game look like something that could only be produced by an awesome collaboration of Tim Burton and Dr. Seuss. Ace Team really did a great job in creating unique and open locations that not only allow the player to explore, but make the player want to explore.
Time passes at a constant rate, complete with the rising and setting of the sun. The sun and moon are used for more than just visual affects. The dynamic lighting is useful when the player is in combat and needs to find the sun or moon. Why does the sun need to be found? One of the player’s key accessories, a weapon and tool, must be pointed at the circular object in the sky in order to be used. The light trajectory allows players to easily find the accessories power source during fights with multiple enemies.
The overall sound work in Zeno Clash 2 isn’t impressive but certainly has its moments. Think of the live action intro to Resident Evil: Director’s Cut for a frame of reference for this title. The voice dialogue sounds awkward, with random pauses at times, but players will get a good laugh out of it. Characters are pretty direct when addressing new characters and intentions, resulting in the frequent occurrence of stale dialogue. This game is no Troll 2, however. The dialogue should not speak in whole for the sound of Zeno Clash II. The ambiance of the game is extremely fitting for the weird environments and brawls. Music plays at times, but there will often be times when there is no music. As usual, there is battle music that plays in story relevant brawls, but the presence of enemies does not guarantee a score will be queued. Like Batman’s fight in the sewer with Bane in Dark Knight Rises, the only soundtrack to the majority of fights will be the sound of punches landing and the grunts of those catching a beating. With no battle music in to alert players of present danger, enemies can easily attack, undetected, from behind.
A game that allows the player to walk around punching any subject of choice is going to be fun, regardless of the story. There is a key, unwritten rule to Zeno Clash II: “If you aren’t sure, punch it.” Punching things seems to be the answer for most problems in Zeno Clash II, and when it’s not the answer it’s still fun. Players can practice combination or just see weak, defenseless civilians fly a couple of feet after a charged punch or kick.
Random glitches and the occasional repetitive nature of the story can put a damper on things, but no game is perfect. The ability to play cooperatively with another player over the network adds replay value. Allies can “accidentally” punch each other, so players into that kind of thing will find an added dimension of fun in that alone.
Zeno Clash II is a game that simply offers a good time and a few laughs. The story will keep the player interested, while the gameplay will keep them entertained. As a $15 download on PlayStation Network, as well as Xbox Live Marketplace and Steam, gamers can’t go wrong picking this one up. A demo of the game has been released for those who are curious. All in all, Zeno Clash II is a pretty legit game, that brings a fresh feel to a genre that can get stale at times.