E3 2012: Zeno Clash II hands-on
Zeno Clash was the first release from Ace Team and it was just as strange as it was unique. It was a first-person puncher featuring an art style reminiscent of Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath, only significantly more colorful. What’s truly amazing was that the brawling worked fairly well. The combat was interesting enough, but lacked depth, with a world that would have been fun to run around in if you were permitted past the boundaries of the small arenas you battled in.
The playable build of the recently announced Zeno Clash II is an early one no doubt. There are no story elements to guide the experience, nor is there any clear ending or beginning to the demonstration. Instead, there is a sizable city to explore and a few people standing around to punch. Even with the minimal amount of content, there’s still information that can be garnered from it.
The first is size. Where as the original had very small arenas, each one acting as its own self-contained level, this one presents a much larger hub city to travel through. There is the promise of exploration, and that means something considering how strange and colorful the world is. It’s the kind of place that should be exploitable, and with any luck the final version will follow up with that.
The actual fighting itself hasn’t changed very much since the last iteration, but rather feels just a little bit refined. And silly. After knocking one guy onto the ground, I ran up to him to see if I could kick him while he was dead. A single smashing punt later and he popped up into the air, slingshotting to the other end of the area.
There is something visceral and gleefully entertaining with the combat in Zeno Clash II. Every punch and kick lands with the right sort of simple and intuitive controls that make it easy to jump in. The big question for this indie title is how well Ace Team will be able to diversify the combat and keep it fresh and interesting, without falling into repetition.