As always, you can click on screenshots to view larger versions.
I played the original Zeno Clash before starting this blog, but I did mention it in my first proper post. That post was about why some seriously flawed games are still worth playing, if they’re interesting enough — in fact, they can be more worthy than a solidly-constructed but generic title. But Zeno Clash is not seriously flawed; I simply cited it as an example of a game that displays uncommon imagination. Made by Chilean developers ACE Team (the same developers responsible for the very different but equally strange Rock of Ages), it takes the mechanics of classic brawlers like Streets of Rage or Double Dragon and puts them in a first-person game. This works far better than expected, and would have been interesting enough on its own, but Zeno Clash also takes place in a bizarre and beautiful world full of surreal architecture and landscapes, and populated by all manner of bird-men and other hybrid species. As I played, each location provided some new, breathtaking vista or strange fauna to behold, and the story was even weirder. It is certainly a unique gaming experience.
For all that, however, the playable sections are small, extremely linear affairs, linked by narration and cutscenes. Not unlike Metro 2033, in fact, but the locations in Zeno Clash are much smaller. Later, ACE Team confided that they had originally envisioned an open-world game, where the player could wander freely, getting into fights and otherwise interacting with the locals, but they soon realized this was too ambitious for their first game. So they focused on the fighting mechanics, and built a linear game instead. With Zeno Clash 2, they returned to their original vision of an open-world game with similar mechanics. It’s safe to say I was excited (even though I’m playing it almost a year after release… I am slow to get through my backlog, as always).