Zeno Clash is a First-Person Shooter/Beat 'em Up hybrid game made by ACE Team using the Source Engine and published by Valve on Steam and Microsoft on Xbox Live Arcade. The main emphasis is on melee combat. You can throw complex combos, and the game is essentially a string of battles. The few projectile weapons are slow to reload and somewhat inaccurate and the melee weapons are slow, meaning that most of the emphasis is on fistfights.The plot concerns a young man named Ghat who lives in the world of Zenozoik. He is forced to flee his hometown of Halstedom after killing "Father-Mother" a hermaphroditic creature with many children (including Ghat, in fact). He and his Love Interest Deadra flee, fighting their way through the "Corwid of the Free," a group of insane, feral forest dwellers. Ghat recounts the story of how he spent time with them and begins to explain why he killed Mother-Father as they try to put as much distance as possible between them and his enraged siblings.Eventually they find themselves in a land full of humanoid Living Shadow creatures and meet a mysterious being named Golem, who asks them to return to Halstedom with him after they free him from his prison. On the way back Ghat explains that Father-Mother had a mysterious secret, and recounts how he ended up killing him.More than a little surreal, Zeno Clash is what you might get after following up a class on surrealist art with a double feature of The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth, followed by an eight hour Double Dragon marathon... while on mescaline. Oh, and the voice acting's terrible.A sequel, Zeno Clash 2, was released in 2013 on Steam, XBLA and PSN. Zeno Clash II continues the story of the first game, and introduce a Wide Open Sandbox, RPG Elements and Co-Op Multiplayer to the mix.
Anime Hair: Many of the human and mostly-human characters, particularly Deadra and Rimat; the former has an enormous afro with ornamental horns sticking out of it, and the latter lengthy, unkempt hair topped by a wide-brimmed hat.
Big Bad: Father-Mother, although half the story is concerned with the fallout of Ghat killing him/her to begin with, while the other half is a flashback.
Big Damn Heroes: Golem at the end of the second boss fight with Hunter, as well as during the final fight with Father-Mother. Both times he utilizes Synchronization, hurting himself or getting hurt to hurt his foe, as well as Ghat and Deirdra.
Blind Weaponmaster: Hunter is blind, but is a crack shot as long as he can hear his target. The second time you fight him he proves that he's fully capable of beating seven shades of hell out of you as well.
Blue and Orange Morality: The Corwid each have their own individual set of morals; some feel that they must eat others, while others feel that alternately training and attempting to a kill a random visitor to their forest makes perfect sense.
Bounty Hunter: Recurring boss Hunter, a blind bounty hunter hired by Ghat's family to bring him back.
Crapsack World: Downplayed. It seems pretty horrifying to us, but its inhabitants are clearly used to it and go about their lives. According to Word of God on the official forums, Zenozoik is a very primitive place where neither writing nor government has been invented yet, amongst other things.
Dark Secret: The Father-Mother's secret is that he is biologically male, and all the members of his "family" were infants he kidnapped to raise as his own.
Dead Person Conversation: Metamoq—the Corwid whose obsession was fighting and who taught Ghat to fight—shows up during the intro after Ghat hits his head, offers some muted praise for Ghat's fighting ability, gives a brief tutorial and reminds Ghat that Metamoq is the dead one, not Ghat.
Flunky Boss: During the final battle, Ghat has to deal with several of his brothers as well as the final boss. The final level of the Challenge Tower ramps it up a notch: you have to fight the entire Family at the same time, Father-Mother included.
Gameplay and Story Integration: Prior to the battle with Chneero, Ghat mentions that as long as Chneero keeps playing his music the Corwid won't stay down. However, Ghat himself lived among the Corwid for some time, and mentions that the music affects him too - and during the course of the battle, if Chneero is still standing, Ghat really is also healed by his music.
Genre-Busting: It's a first person melee brawler shooter. Except for that bit with the shadow people. Also there's the rail shooter section and ummm... well at least we know it's fantasy. Unless it's sci-fi...
Good Old Fisticuffs: Your primary method of combat. Your enemies tend to use spinning kicks and other elaborate moves, but this avails them little against Ghat's fighting style. This style, taught to him by Metamoq, is to punch people in the head until they are stunned and then bash their faces in with his knee. Very simple, very brutal.
The second boss fight against Hunter, once he stops holding back. Luckily Golem intervenes.
The first clue on this is the absence of a certain item that would make it easier to survive. The second clue is the steam achievement related to the fight.
I'm a Humanitarian: Gabel, one of the Corwids, whose Corwid obsession involves eating people. He looks vaguely pig-like, and wears a strange skull on his head; there may or may not be some deeper meaning here.
Improvised Weapon: Besides the homemade guns, Ghat gets a lot of mileage out of hammers and bone rods that he finds lying about.
In Medias Res: The game begins during Ghat's escape from Halstedom after killing Father-Mother.
Insane Troll Logic: One of the Corwids, Helim, wants to be invisible, so he takes out the eyes of any creature that looks at him. Oddly, he may be more rational than average for a Corwid...
Insurmountable Waist High Fence: These mark the borders of many levels. Unlike most Source engine-based games, you don't have the ability to jump in Zeno Clash, even an Insurmountable Knee-High Rock is certain to stop you.
Invulnerable Knuckles: Ghat does a LOT of punching in this game, and never shows the slightest discomfort, not even when a skull-grenade blows up in his hand.
Living Shadow: The creatures guarding Golem. They make metallic noises, look like they're made from black metal strips braided together in a root-like lattice, and move more like robots than ghosts. They leave no corpse behind when killed.
The Mad Hatter: The Corwid of the Free, a group of people living in the forest outside Halstedom who each have a single obsession which they pursue voluntarily as a sort of expression of freedom. They're far from harmless, however—they tend to attack outsiders, and some of them are obsessed with hurting people in some way or other.
Made of Iron: Apparently just about everyone. The amount of punishment that Ghat takes and deals is very much out of proportion to the game's actual death toll. the Hunter takes the first prize for being shot until he fell off a tall edifice twice and still having enough stamina to kick Ghat's ass.
Magnet Hands: Averted; all your weapons can be dropped quite easily.
Meaningful Name: Many, but most notably Ghat, Golem, and the setting of Zenozoik.
Mêlée à Trois: In one of the last levels you'll be attacked by both the Family and the Corwid at the same time. The two groups hate each other and will fight each other as well as you.
Mind Screw: And how! The world of Zenozoik is weird, and has no obvious roots outside of, perhaps, surrealist art, or Doctor Seuss landscapes through a mirror darkly.
Mooks: Completely averted, apart from the shadow people, every character you fight has a unique name, distinctive fighting style, and returns at least once.
Mook Chivalry: Totally averted. In fact, only the lack of obvious team tactics makes it apparent that your enemies AREN'T ganging up on you. Your ability to stun and throw people will be critical to avoid being overwhelmed.
Non-Lethal K.O.: Liberally applied to your foes. Despite the brutal and bone-crushing nature of the fights, you don't seem to deal any permanent damage, as they can be back up in minutes or hours (plot-wise) to fight you again. And again. Even if you throw them off bridges or defeat them with explosives!
Petting Zoo People: No distinct races are named and many creatures' looks can only be described as "weird", but it's plain that some of them are anthropomorphic animals. Examples include rodent-people, elephant-people, (several kinds of) bird-people, pig-people and more. Word of God claims they are based on prehistoric mammals and birds.
Arguably, it's a piece of New Weird, with hefty doses of surrealism.
Rail Shooter: A short section has you standing on a boat picking off hostile rock-throwing tribals with a rifle, while Golem and Deadra have a plot-expanding chat.
Can also be That One Level before it was patched, as it was insanely easy to accidentally heave your rifle into the water and spend the entire mission trying to dodge tribals.
Schizo Tech: Crossbows that fire skulls are the closest thing you find to real world technology. Other highlights include semi-automatic pistols made from seashells, gunpowder rifles made from spines and metal pipes, automated doors which need passwords, bombs made of skulls and... Rubix cubes. All but the cube have a decidedly stone-age aesthetic, being made mostly from wood and bones. Yes, even the rifles.
The Stoic: Golem, the mysterious being found at the End of the World. He tags along, offering his advice and commentary, but never shows any emotion.
Trying to Catch Me Fighting Dirty: Absolutely mandatory if you want to live. Fighting honorably with your fists is all very well, but you literally cannot beat certain opponents unless you make use of guns and/or blunt instruments, and not using grenades and the terrain to your advantage is sheer folly.
Unusable Enemy Equipment: Averted. Any weapon can be knocked out of an opponent's hand (or yours). Any weapon that's lying around can be picked up by anyone, including your enemies).
The Unreveal: Subverted, Ghat decides not to reveal Father-Mother's secret, then Golem steps in to Shoot the Dog and spill the beans.
Videogame Cruelty Potential: Here's how a typical fight goes: a guy comes at you, you block a punch or two, and then you smack him around until he's too dazed to fight back. Then you grab him and hold him in place while you introduce his nose to your kneecap several times. Then you throw him to the ground, and kick him while he's down until he can't get up anymore.