Ah yes, Zeno Clash, a game that took new meaning to First Person Shooter…Erm , Brawler. Quite frankly, the game had a lot of problems despite being such a fresh idea. It felt somewhat unfinished. While the story was really cool and the art direction is what made the game stand out visually, the gameplay needed some work. ATLUS has graced gamers with Zeno Clash 2. While the core gameplay remains the same, the control issues and combat have been drastically altered to fit better as a full game release.
Zeno Clash 2 picks up where the first game left off, and the main character is again, Ghat. Ghat started off rebelling against “FatherMother” and his clan leader. He was forced to leave his home but he never had the thought of revealing any secrets, which where the reasons for his rebellion. He returns to “Golem” and that is when his secret was revealed. FatherMother was jailed and everyone went their ways. The world of Zenozoik faces new problems, bigger than Ghat could have ever imagined. Golem has taken residence in Zenozoik and Ghat is uncomfortable with his presence. Another being, known as Rimat, wants the family to be reunited again but Ghat may prove to be too impulsive to rely on. However, desperate actions must be taken as Rimat and Ghat become unstable allies and travel Zenozoik to change it for the good of all the residents.
The story is a nice addition to the world of Zeno Clash. The game’s atmosphere really comes through with the story as you play through singleplayer. The “stonepunk” setting is very dystopian despite the bright colors of the game.
The art style has remained the same with the strange looking humanoid creatures and outrageous outfits and weapons. While in Zeno Clash 1 you could use certain weapons as guns, the main focus is hand to hand combat. There are also a variety of knuckle based weapons and blunt melee weapons. There are a couple projectile weapons in Zeno Clash 2 but they are not very fun to use because it takes away from the core experience.
Zeno Clash 2 is a first-person brawler. This should be pretty obvious with what the game plays like. Instead of shooting people or aliens mindlessly with impersonal weapons from a distance, you must get up close and person and fight with your fists. Right off the bat Zeno Clash 2 shows the same originality that the previous game introduced into the gaming world. However, the control of Zeno Clash 2 has been improved with one simple addition, locking on. While it was sort of fun zipping from enemy to enemy in the first game, it felt sporadic and clunky. With the addition of the lock on system, Zeno Clahs 2 feels more controlled and much more fluid.
As you progress through the game you will obtain the knowledge of different combos to utilize and how to use them in certain situations. While fighting mono y mono is all fine and dandy, the real fun is executing a bunch of combos knocking people to the ground with a flurry of punches while performing a back kick and spinning around to unleash your anger. As with many guns in FPS titles, ammo tends to balance things out with having to reload. Zeno Clash 2 has a stamina bar to take note of and if it is low, not only will it be difficult to defend yourself, but fighting becomes sluggish and lackluster. You must use your stamina wisely so you can recover in the breaks of combat. There is a nice strategy element to stamina management and it works so well in Zeno Clash 2.
You can punch different areas on enemies to change their fighting stance or deal more damage. The sound effects really add to the feeling of beating the crap out of someone. The best feeling I get is when I am fighting close to 5 guys and I take them all down with relative ease. In a way, you feel like Steven Segal laying waste to some drug dealers. The combat has much improved but this is a game you should play with a gamepad. The keyboard/mouse controls feel strange for the FPB game. My only complaint is that despite being longer than the first game, it still feels short. The linearity of the story is a welcome change because it does it tastefully. However, it is also a downfall because you progress through the game rather quick. The level layout is also really simple despite the actual visual design being so cool.
Regardless, ATLUS’ sequel to Zeno Clash is a game people must play. The art style is very different and unique offering a wide range of interesting characters. Zeno Clash 2 is a breath of fresh air to the gaming industry due to the game being so one of a kind. It delivers on so many levels including visuals and gameplay, but falls short on content and replay value. I give Zeno Clash 2 for the PC an 8.5/10. You can also pick it up on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.