A simple game with a simple objective: fun, visceral combat. Does it deliver? You'd have to be blind to not see that.

User Rating: 8 | Zeno Clash PC
Story writing isn't a very strong suit for the people over at ACE, but then again they should be applauded regardless. Why? It is almost impossible to make a decent story for a game/movie/anime/comic that revolves around combat, you'd have to live in hole or be completely delusional to believe that a martial arts movie has any redeeming value aside from the laughs (un-intentioned) to be had. What the writers of this game did to combat this is to make the game/story/dialogue down-right bizarre and hilarious. Not heavy-handed, trying too hard to be funny, Eugene Mirman bizarre, but honestly so. And yeah, probably you'd need to factor in that their primary language isn't English, but then again that makes the line, "Armenia peed on herself and starved to death anonymously" all the more hilarious.

With the weakest portion of the game out of the way, how the hell did a short and simple Indy game get a high score from one of the more cynical amateur reviewers (read as "time-wasters," myself included)?

This game does all it set out to do almost perfectly: a surreal world filled with interesting (at least in appearance) characters who you then commence in beating the living crap out of.

The game is centered around your fists and kicks unlike other FPSes, as guns/melee and explosives take the passenger seat (summarized: they aren't that interesting or necessary most of the time). Unlike nearly every other FPS, where unarmed/melee combat is featured, in Zeno Clash it's outright awesome. Aside from basic jabs, (power) hooks, kicks, and guarding you have parries/counter attacks, evades, evade attacks, and guard crushes among a few other options. All have their place, and though it may take time to learn when to evade/parry an incoming attack but once you learn how to do it the game only becomes more enjoyable.

Now who would care about deep FPpuncher if it wasn't very responsive, I know I wouldn't, but ACE made each connected attack feel like an actual hit. A simple ripple effect does wonders with good sound effects; and to top it off, you're not punching a plastic doll, but an enemy that will also reflect the damn they receive. I know it isn't just me when I think damage modeling/rag dolls can make an awesome combat experience better; and it really works for this game.

The maps are small in size, there is no stealth, weapons feel "meh," the game is short, etc. are all possible gripes, but those things aren't necessary and ACE didn't not set out to make a game to allow for limitless possibilities like some other companies (the big stinker Bethesda comes to mind), and it what the game does it does brilliantly.

In the end, try this game and maybe you'll scratch your head after you read Brett Todd's comment here (gamespot) on how "Simplistic beat-'em-up mechanics" are.