Zeno Clash 2 Review
Zeno Clash 2 was one of the surprise announcements of last E3. Amidst all the ‘hey I can do Uncharted as well!’ games, it was nice to see this little brawler making a return in all its oddly faced, pugilistic glory.
It’s doubly nice too to announce that Zeno Clash 2 doesn’t just build upon the first game’s promise, it flies off to lala land on the back of a bird with a face like Rasputin, or something. Basically it’s great.
Zeno Clash follows straight on from the story of the first one, with the Golem that Ghat liberated taking control of Haldestom, imprisoning Ghat’s enemy FatherMother at the same time.
If that makes no sense to you, it’s your fault for not playing the first Zeno Clash you turkey, as the sequel makes no bones about referencing events in its predecessor.
Anyway, Ghat decides he doesn’t like Golem after all and is convinced by his wild haired sister to free FatherMother in order to fight back against the Golem’s regime.
Once again Ghat finds himself on the warpath through the land of Zenozoik, beating up absolutely everyone he meets on the way.
It’s a simple tale, but sometimes simplicity is absolutely fine, otherwise you end up with a garbled mess of set pieces that leave you feeling increasingly disconnected from the action with every moment. Hello Crysis 3.
The World Of Zeno Clash 2
Zeno Clash 2 is a much bigger game than the original, although it’s not quite as open world as you’d have been led to believe, as you’re still confined to certain areas while you go roaming.
You can however, go back and forth whenever you want in order to go looking for trinkets, moths (an NPC you can do sidequests for is obsessed with moths) and posts in the ground that let you level up, though why they just didn’t let you level up in game through progressing and beating others is anyone’s guess.
It does however force you to go off the beaten path sometimes and drink in the sights, which is a good thing too, as even by its predecessor’s standard Zeno Clash 2 is beautiful, and the quirky, moody soundtrack emphasises how perversely picturesque it all is.
Any iffy textures or bits of naff animation are overwhelmed by just how sumptuous looking and stylish the world of Zenozoik appears. It’ll have you pressing the screenshot button more than Dear Esther, with the added bonus that you can punch people.
The punching by the way is still excellent, and is easily the best since vagrant bashing simulator Condemned 2. It naffs about sometimes with targeting, but when it works, it works fantastically, plenty of oomph being delivered with each swinging fist that connects.
Also, because deep down Ace Team knows that everyone likes professional wrestling, whether they want to admit it or not, they’ve stuck in a piledriver as a finishing move that’s satisfying and hilarious.
It’s the best implementation of a wrestling move since Leon could decapitate monks with suplexes in Resident Evil 4.
Is Zeno Clash 2 For You?
Zeno Clash 2 will obviously not be for everyone, and its low budget does show through.
However given its price, and the fact there’s a full length campaign this time (as well as a fun co-op mode) it deserves more attention and love than it currently seems to be getting, and feels more competent and fully featured than a few AAA titles.
It’s also another tantalising glimpse into one of the most unique game worlds crafted in what seems like an age, one that’s absolutely screaming to be opened up for some proper open world exploration in any future game.
Given time and a heftier budget, there’s no reason to doubt that Ace Team could make the fundamental stuff work in a proper open world setting, full of sidequests and odd characters to converse with. As long as they keep the piledriver.