Zeno Clash is unlike any other first-person game.
It’s not a shooter for starters – although there is a smattering of gunplay – instead focusing on hand-to-hand combat. Dropped into the middle of the action, you play Ghat, a man on the run from his vengeful family. They’ve got a real grievance, too, as Ghat has just murdered Father-Mother – his hermaphrodite parent.
The graphics are as bizarre as the plot. The world of Zenozoik is genuinely imaginative and borders on the surreal, with hallucinogenic landscapes and outlandish creatures. The humanoid inhabitants are truly unsettling, with animalistic tendencies and thought-provoking dialogue that touches on the philosophical.
The basics of the combat are explained in dream-like sequences. Quick punches and huge haymakers are your basic attacks, and Ghat reverts to kicks if you look down with the mouse. Throws and holds are also possible. Combination attacks produce devastating results, and there are block and dodge options to avoid your enemies’ strikes. Fighting is brutal and visceral, and at times we winced as we laid a series of vicious strikes on an opponent.
Guns and other weapons, such as clubs, make an occasional appearance, but you can’t rely on them as a single punch can make you drop them. Some large creatures can only be harmed with such weapons, but these opponents tend to be slow and easily dealt with once you’ve taken down any more agile companions. The game is largely a matter of crowd control, as being surrounded quickly results in your demise.
There’s no free-to-roam world here; the game is essentially a series of tightly fenced corridors and arenas. It’s not very long either, but given its high production values the price is fair. It’s certainly not for everyone, but its combination of otherworldly landscapes and brutal melee combat is certainly unique.