Gameplay in Zeno Clash really shines, with its basis good old fashioned fisticuffs action. While many games have attempted to present first person melee combat, very few have done so successfully. Controls are usually difficult to handle, while the perspective tends to give the player a claustrophobic feeling that makes it difficult to get your bearings. Zeno Clash does not suffer from any of these issues whatsoever though.
Controls are easy to learn and master, yet they never feel overly simplistic. After completing a few early tutorial levels, you are sent off on your way to punch, kick, and uppercut your way past those who want to stop you. Zeno Clash even features one of my favorite maneuvers, the classic Italian fighting move: Kicking people when they’re down. Combos are achieved through holding the attack button down, while weaving and bobbing out of the way of attacks is easy and satisfying to pull off. This becomes very important to master when combined with an appropriately timed counter punch, which can floor your opponent if pulled off correctly.
Weapons also come into play in Zeno Clash, whether they are brutish clubs or rudimentary firearms that shoot nuts, bolts, or even rocks at distant foes. Projectile weapons are varied, yet distinct and each one caters itself to different situations. While the ‘rifle’ causes some extreme damage, its limited ammo makes its unfit for taking on more than a few targets at a time. Conversely, the dual fish pistols boast the most ammo of all the weapons before requiring reloading, however, they tend to do the least amount of damage per shot.
The levels in Zeno Clash are about as linear as you can get without painting a big line on the ground and telling the player to follow from one end to the other. In fact, the boundaries used to push the player towards the end goal tend to be pretty arbitrary, from seemingly impervious fences to a desert landscape that attacks the player if he strays too far off the beaten path. Limiting the player to one distinct pathway can be counter intuitive considering the level of originality given the world design. You find yourself wanting to explore this strange and odd place, but you’re blocked in and forced along towards an inevitable goal line.
Zeno Clash also grants players the ability to play through a tower mode once you’ve completed the single player campaign. Tower mode essentially tasks the player with defeating as many opponents as possible, in the shortest amount of time. Zeno Clash supports leaderboards through Steam, so you can compare your score with that of your friends.