Archives by Day

May 2024

Tales Of Kenzera: ZAU

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Surgent Studios
Release Date: April 23, 2024


As an Amazon Associate, we earn commission from qualifying purchases.

Switch/PS5/XSX/PC Preview - 'Tales of Kenzera: Zau'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on April 12, 2024 @ 7:00 a.m. PDT

Tales Of Kenzera: ZAU is a heartfelt single-player action/adventure platformer that brings a new take on the experience of finding hope and courage after loss.

Tales of Kenzera: Zau is a story within a story. In a futuristic land, a young boy's father passes away shortly after he leaves behind a story book. The story tells of a shaman named Zau in the lands of Kenzera, who has also recently lost his father. The shaman makes a deal with the God of Death to subdue several dangerous spirits in exchange for bringing his father back to life. Together, Zau and the God of Death journey together on a story of grief and memory.

At its core, Tales of Kenzera is a Metroidvania. If you've played anything in the genre, you have a good idea of what to expect. There are large, open areas where you venture back and forth, unlocking new skills and abilities that let you find hidden secrets and new paths. The movement in Kenzera feels excellent, smooth and speedy. I had no trouble zooming around the map, and even the early puzzle-platforming felt smooth as butter. You begin with a double-jump and a wall jump, which puts Zau ahead of the usual curve for Metroidvania protagonists.

Zau has two different combat modes that he can swap. The Mask of the Moon feels like Metroid in a way. You have a long-distance, rapid-firing laser blast that can be used to weaken enemies and leaves them vulnerable to your powerful single-hit melee follow-up. Your melee follow-up can also gain the ability to reflect attacks. You have limited ammo, but it reloads once you get low, and you even unlock an "active reload" mechanic à la Gears of War that let you time a button press correctly to get a faster reload and a temporary boost to attack power.

The Mask of the Sun mode is purely focused on melee. You lose the Moon's range, but in exchange, you get powerful melee combo strings that can do a ton of damage and knock enemies into the air so you can juggle them. Once you level it up a bit, you'll also be able to set enemies on fire and add some useful bonus damage to the mix. It can also stun enemies far more effectively than the Moon does, making it far safer for close-range combat.

Fighting with your masks will also build up spiritual energy. Once you've gained enough, you can use this energy to heal. If you manage to avoid taking damage, you can spend it on powerful super moves. The Mask of the Moon gets a Lunar Laser, which is a giant aimable laser beam that cuts across most of the stage, while the Mask of the Sun gets an upward-aimed solar flare that deals huge damage in a limited area. It's a good reward for playing well. It's also important to choose your masks well because enemies can have color-coded shields that you can only break with the proper weapon.

You'll also unlock new transversal abilities in proper Metroidvania fashion. The first ability you get for the Mask of the Moon is a throwing stone. This is based on a myth, and throwing it into water causes the water to freeze into crystal, which you can easily cross. This even works on waterfalls, so you can turn rushing water into useful jumping-off points. However, you can also use it in combat to freeze enemies in place for a short period of time. You can shoot until you're out of ammo and then freeze a foe while you reload, or you can freeze a foe and get in close to follow up with a melee attack.

As with any good Metroidvania, there are a lot of optional items to find. You can find hidden bits of lore that earn bonus experience points, quiet resting spots where you can improve maximum HP, and more. One particularly cool secret are Challenges, which are small obstacle courses to unlock Trinkets. Trinkets are equippable passive boosts that can grant you more Spirit when air-comboing enemies, so they're usually worthwhile to find, if only to unlock new skills.

Tales of Kenzera: Zau has all the makings of an excellent Metroidvania-style game. The lovely art style and setting make it instantly stand out. During our time previewing the title, the core gameplay seemed extremely solid. Swapping between Metroid-style blasting and close-up combos is a lot of fun, and it's easy to see that more depth awaits after more skills and abilities are added. Metroidvania fans will have a lot to look forward to when Tales of Kenzera: Zau launches for consoles and PC on April 23, 2024.

More articles about Tales Of Kenzera: ZAU
blog comments powered by Disqus