Chilean Studio ACE Team is known primarily for its debut project – fighting game Zeno Clash. Perhaps, as a simulator of hand-to-hand combat, he lacked stars from the sky, but fully compensated for this with a crazy visual design, which was remembered at first glance. Three parts of Rock of Ages and the recent The Eternal Cylinder turned out to be no less original. This time ACE Team returns to the world of Zenozoic: we have a new game in this amazing universe. Clash: Artifacts of Chaos – not a full-fledged sequel: it does not touch on the story of Gath from the first two parts and, as the authors themselves say, does not require familiarity with the original dilogy.
Very interesting, but not clear in Clash: Artifacts of Chaos
Let me hear about Zenozoik’s crazy design, but neither the first nor the second Zeno Clash played, therefore, references to the events of these parts, if they exist in Clash: Artifacts of Chaos went unnoticed for me. Not to say it got in the way,perceive the plot: on the one hand, it is not easy to figure out the lore, given the flight of the developers’ fantasies in terms of locations, characters and other visual images, on the other hand, it is not such an intricate story.
We play for a lanky fighter named Pseudo. He is not human, but the creature is much like him: there are two arms, two legs and a head, which is not so common in Zenozoic. One day, Pseudo rescues Baby – a small creature that looks something like a bird. There is a real hunt for the Baby: almost every counter wants to capture the unfortunate person in order to hand him over to Gemini, a many-headed woman living in a castle on the seashore. She is endowed with great power and is ready to pay a substantial reward for the capture of crumbs. For what she needed the Baby – it is not clear. Trying to solve the mystery of a pretty and naive baby (judging by the behavior, this is quite a child), Pseudo will travel, fight and from time to time talk with other characters on distracted topics.
Himself, Pseudo isn’t that simple either. At night, he can change his appearance, turning into a semblance of a skeleton. However, Zenozoic himself changes at night – where relatively harmless animals roamed, evil and dangerous monsters appear, which are not so easy to cope with. But the nocturnal form of Psvedo can crawl through thorn bushes – with their help, the developers close some parts of the levels: until you find a workaround or destroy the barrier, you will not advance further. On the other hand, there are also enough restrictions for the dark essence of the hero – it is worth deviating from the route, as we are persistently asked to return to the part of the level available only for night travel.
As for the design of the locations, it is rather disappointing, especially in contrast to the pretentious images of the characters. The reason, it seems to me, is the use of cel-shading: the style looks very cheap. It’s good that in the settings this effect can be almost completely removed – a matter of taste, but without it, in my opinion, it becomes better.
Hit first, Pseudo
Apparently, in Zenozoic hand-to-hand fighting is a common thing and everyone can call a foe to a fight to solve a dispute in an honest fight on their fists. Before starting a fight, you can hold a Ritual – this is a board game using dice. The winner gets a slight advantage: for example, the enemy will be tied to the place with a short rope.
The hand-to-hand combat system is tied to the timings. The controls are quite simple: regular and special strikes, swivel and blocking. Nevertheless, everything does not boil down to “spam” attacks. Pseudo can use three styles of combat, each with its own characteristics: somewhere fast, but weak blows, somewhere – sweeping and strong. There are several types of special attacks that are studied using totems hidden in secluded places. You can fight not only with your fists, but also with edged weapons,like clubs – they, however, break over time. Finally, when a special scale accumulates, a button for turning on the first-person view appears – here Pseudo wields his fists without venture, and, in fact, we are not faced with a full-fledged change of camera, but just a chance to carry out a series of strong blows.
Usually in battle we are opposed not by one opponent, but by several. This, of course, adds problems, but it cannot be said that the fights are very difficult here – for example, I am not the most experienced fighting game player, but after gaining a little experience, I coped with most enemies without much difficulty.
You can generally fight to a minimum, ignoring wild animals and night monsters while traveling to locations. The gameplay itself consists precisely of suitable running around the levels: dodging unnecessary fights, looking for a loot (with its help you can pump blows or buy useful things like armor and weapons from merchants), then we rest on the passage closed by the Baby hunters to the next location, fight and,We repeat the same actions already in a new place.
Occasionally, running around is diluted with conversations with the Baby or other characters. Oddly enough, you quickly get used to the surrealism of what is happening, and if you look closely, Zenozoic is not so surprising – with the exception of the appearance of the characters in front of us, the standard fantasy world.
Step to the right, step to the left in Clash: Artifacts of Chaos
Unfortunately, location designers not only drew a meager environment, but also misplaced when working out the structure of the levels. The choice is an illusion: wherever you go, the end point in the form of the next battle in the “dead end” will be the same. Which is separately annoying, the boundaries of the corridors will not immediately learn to recognize: the sooner you get rid of the habit of cutting the path (it still won’t work), the healthier the nerves will be.
The ill-fated backtracking has not gone anywhere: after the death of Pseudo reborn in the nearest camp in night shape and runs to the body, where we are waiting for those with whom the daytime Pseudo did not cope. And without it, run around the same,routes will have to: sometimes – to collect loot, but much more often – in search of passage to the next level, which sometimes hides in non-obvious places.
Of course, and this could be endured, but for what? I never found an answer to this question. Fights are not very inspiring, the plot accelerates only to the end, but there is no open world. Run through not the best draped corridors to see what crazy appearance of the next enemy the authors came up with? So-so motivation, to be honest.
Clash: Artifacts of Chaos – the case when the project does not want to scold, but there is nothing to praise. Yes, the developers managed to create an interesting character design, but apart from these amazing images, there is almost nothing to look at – both literally and figuratively.
Pros: the character design that does not cease to amaze; Hand-to-hand fighting using multiple combat styles.
Cons: banal against the background of pretentious style plot; corridor locations; You have to spend a lot of time running through levels.