When a developer does something unconventional with a popular genre, no matter what the final product turns out to be, it's something that's worth taking notice of. That's exactly what happened in 2010 when Atlus, working alongside the developers at ACE Team, released Zeno Clash for both Steam and Xbox Live Arcade.
This first-person action game focused more on traditional fighting tactics than using an assault rifle – like so many games in the genre had leaned on. While the effect wasn't exactly something everyone was expecting, it was a bold, original concept, built around a fantastic fantasy world, Zenozoik. The game performed admirably enough that Atlus announced a sequel soon following its release, though we haven't heard much from it since then.
But it looks like the Clash is finally ready to live on. After spending nearly four years in development, the co-founder of ACE Team, Carlos Bordeu, confirmed through the game's official forums that Zeno Clash II would finally see a release this spring, returning to the Steam and Xbox Live Arcade platforms, as well as PlayStation Network for the first time. Though the details are scarce on the sequel at the moment, there are a few things that we can share with you.
In the game, you'll once again be playing as Ghat, a makeshift hero who finds himself on the run after he sets off an explosion that sucks the life out of an influential golem by the name of Father-Mother. He's been running from his psychotic siblings for some time, and the events of the second game should pick up right after the first, with even crazier refugees to deal with across Zenozoik, and more weapons that you can make on the fly.
Most of Zeno Clash II will be about how well you can maintain in a fistfight. Like the original, it's all about maintaining a proper balance when you smack around others, and know when to dodge incoming attacks when someone takes a swing at you. Survival is the name of the game here, and you'll need to keep on your toes to avoid falling prey to your former clansmen.
It's unknown if Ghat's female accomplice, a girl by the name of Deadra, will be making her return to the series, but considering she helps the continuity of the story flow, we wouldn't be surprised if she showed back up. Besides, there's a new factor to Zeno Clash II that has yet to be fully discussed – multiplayer.
Multiplayer is bound to go in one of two directions. The first is with the implementation of co-op, with one player controlling the actions of Ghat and another working alongside him as Deadra. The second direction could be with competitive multiplayer, pitting many fighters against one another in an arena battle or, better yet, through open world maps, where they'll have to track down weapons and stealthily defeat opponents in order to survive. No matter which choice they make, this is a big move for ACE Team, and we're eager to see what they do with it.
The gameplay should expand with even more possibilities when it come to using both melee and ranged weapons, and while you shouldn't expect something conventional along the lines of, say, a shotgun or a grenade launcher, you can expect a few creative tools to come your way, including a bow and arrow and other possible – and outlandish – projectile launchers.
As for melee moves, you're likely to have a few tools to your trade, as well as the possibility of upgrading with additional combos. ACE Team isn't talking, but considering how well the first Clash worked, you can expect a few smooth moves to be made for the second time around. (You'll probably need 'em too, as some of the enemies are looking really freaky in the sequel.)
Zeno Clash II will also be ripe for exploration, with new parts of Zenozoik just waiting to be run through. The level design looks to be even more expansive than the first, and who knows, ACE Team might even throw in a few goodies to collect, expanding the replay value. Maybe you can even use some of these perks for multiplayer. (Just don't expect a nuclear deterrent – remember, this is fantasy-based first-person action…not Call of Duty. Silly.)
Details are still kind of scarce on Zeno Clash II, but knowing what kind of creativity went into the original game, ACE Team and Atlus are sure to explore plenty of possibilities between the lengthy single player adventure and the addition of multiplayer. We'll be sure to get a better look at it as it moves towards its later spring 2013 release on Xbox Live, PlayStation Network and Steam.