The art style of Zeno Clash II is definitely something different. The game is set in what appears to be a post apocalyptic setting. The cities and buildings are all very rudimentary, and archaic; but the technology is futuristic. This is a perfect setting for a fighting game, as ‘post apocalyptia’ is the perfect place to find people brawling in the streets. The character modeling however, is very strange. Humanoids look like standard humans, bird people, giants, elephants and a whole lot more. This isn’t a bad point, it just gives the player a feeling of “what?” whenever a new species makes their debut.
The actual graphics of Zeno Clash II are quite good. The render distance is huge, the modeling is very high quality and the animations are solid as well. There are times where the game will slow down, and the player has the option to deliver a haymaker of sorts and when the punch connects to the face of the enemy, the enemy’s face actually moves with the punch a la Fight Night. This is a very nice addition and is incredibly satisfying.
Unfortunately, the audio in Zeno Clash II is not nearly as good as the Video. The punch sound effects do get very repetitive, and the voice acting is far from stellar. Each of the unique races do all have different sound effects when attacking or being attacked, which does break up the repetitiveness of the combat sounds. While the punch sound effects are very repetitive, they are satisfying in their own regard, the game is just lacking in diversity.
This is where Zeno Clash II sets itself apart from nearly any other game on the market. The gameplay is truly unique, and it’s very easy to see where ACE sunk most of their resources into. The combat flows incredibly well, and it’s very fluid to dodge or combo a target. Zeno Clash II controls very similar to an Elder Scrolls game, however the gameplay is definitely more akin to the Beat Em Ups of yesteryear. The player will be off exploring, and a small cutin of several enemies will appear as the player chooses which teammate will join them in this fight. From there the game turns into a brawl, which punches flying, and enemy and ally alike being thrown around. It’s a very visceral experience, and it’s done very well.
The game is also very difficult, even on the lowest setting. This is both a blessing and a curse. Players looking for a nice and easy romp will be rudely awakened once they progress further into the game. However people who want a challenging fighting game will be presently surprised, as they’ll be forced to learn how to combo and dodge very early on.
The only real issue with the gameplay, are the controls. The can be very awkward to control at times, as the punches are dictated by mouse clicks instead of key presses. Furthermore, the lack of a jump does take away from the game, as traversing environments with ledges is aggravating without a jump. However these are things that become less annoying the longer the player plays.
Overall, Zeno Clash II is a very enjoyable game. Filled with visceral combat, unique settings and plenty of WTF moments, it is definitely right at it’s $19.99(US) price point. The only issues that plague Zeno Clash II are it’s lackluster audio and aggravating controls. Still, the game’s sheer uniqueness more than makes up for it’s shortcomings, and anybody who is looking for an original game to play should definitely check it out. Zeno Clash II is available on both Steam and the Xbox Live Arcade.
A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of this review.