Canzera Tales: Zao Review – Spirit over Matter

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    In Tales of Kenzera: Zau, the first game from Surgent Studios, the use of the word “Tales” is more literal than it might at first seem. To begin the events of the game, the main character Zubari reads a book written by his late father about a place called Kenzra. He uses fiction to deal with his grief, as the player does with the game’s plot, and as the studio’s founder, who also lost his father, created the story to begin with. What did The combat and map design in Tales of Kinzera falters at times, but this strong, emotional core draws me to the credit.

    Zhao is the protagonist of Zuberi’s book, and is the one the player controls for most of the nearly eight-hour game. After his father’s death, he goes to Kalunga, the god of death, for a dangerous exchange: to bring his father back to life by defeating three great spirits. Kalunga, who appears only as an old man, accompanies Zhao on his journey, providing wisdom and guidance to balance Zhao’s often reckless behavior. It’s a wonderful dynamic, and I enjoyed seeing them buttheads as they struggled to deal with the game’s other sadistic characters.

    Zhao fights his way through the world of Kinzera using the Masks of the Sun and Moon, relics gifted to him by his father when he died. Mask of the Moon has more extensive options with ice abilities, while Mask of the Sun focuses on melee with fire abilities, and both are fun to use. Because you can switch between them at the drop of a hat, combat feels creative, allowing the player to switch to whatever stance suits them at the time. That said, encounters with hordes of enemies with respawning health bars sometimes tested my love of combat, making late-game combat encounters feel entirely contrived. How long do they take?

    The game is also full of platforming challenges that utilize all the skills you’ve acquired up to this point in the story, but since you start off with double jumps and mid-air dashes, movement is a blast right from the start. Is. Many challenges involve instant-kill spikes, which can be annoying, but quick regeneration times usually keep me from pulling my hair out. This is not the case in some of the challenge sections and story missions with some chase sequences, which only require you to make it through a handful of checkpoints. They are not invincible though, and allow the game to test the player’s platforming skills as well as combat skills during boss sequences.

    Stories of Canzera’s main flaw is its map and world design, which turn a great game into one that’s uninteresting and incomprehensible to explore. While most games obscure parts of the map until players explore them, Tales of Kinzera opens up an entire zone as soon as you enter a biome. It’s a minor convenience for navigating the main plot but for figuring out where you are and aren’t. There’s no way to mark the map or see where you’ve been before, save for icons that mark collected items, so in some cases, backtracking to find secrets would have been more difficult. Is.

    Even so, the areas are fairly linear, thanks to objective markers that ensure the player always knows where to go, so most secrets are just a small branch that enters a room on the left or right. An alternative route to On top of that, most secrets only reward a small amount of experience points, which is useful but not particularly interesting to explore and doesn’t do much to encourage further exploration. However, there are also meditation trees that increase your maximum health and platforming challenges to unlock stat-boosting trinkets, so it’s still worth the occasional sidepath. .

    However, the most frustrating element here is a specific set of secrets: the Temptation of the Spirit. Unlike most stealth elements, these combat challenges require the player to significantly backtrack and open up an area capable of advancing. I enjoy the secrets, but there are only three Spirit Trials in the entire game, and they’re the only way to upgrade your Spirit Bar and Trinket slots, which are necessary for Zhao’s abilities. It’s a puzzling choice to cram both upgrades into one area, and even more annoying to hide them like this, especially when their existence isn’t mentioned unless you’re looking for it. Do it. If the map allowed you to mark certain areas for revisiting or had a traditional non-fog system to see where you haven’t looked, that would be one thing, and if it was normal That other secrets require a little more work. Find out, it will be another. But when the player is neither implicitly nor implicitly incentivized to seek out major upgrades, it creates a balance problem.

    Despite my gripes with the Spirit Trials and the map, I have a lot of respect for Tales of Kinzera: Zao, especially in how it portrays grief and self-reflection – the most thematically coherent. One of the games I have ever played. Every element of the gameplay and story is tied into the dual struggle of Zhao and Zuberi to deal with the loss of their respective fathers. Improvements in health come from meditation points and processing emotions. Each character you encounter deals with loss in their own way, which gives perspective to Zhao’s situation. Even the combat upgrades represent Zhao’s way of getting closer to his father – if he can’t spend time with the man himself, he will spend time with the legacy his father left behind.

    Kinzera’s Stories: Zhao deals with his serious themes with subtlety and passion. It’s just a shame that the gameplay doesn’t always match those heights, especially in a genre full of quality indies, because Zhao’s journey – and Zuberi’s parallel journey – are stories I’ve long been drawn to. I will think.

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