ACE Team’s Zeno Clash debuted in 2009. It was a PC-first title lauded for it’s innovative first-person melee combat. So much so, that a publisher took the reigns and allowed for console ports to emerge. A sequel, Zeno Clash II, followed in 2013. This title however, was not so well received. Despite textbook additions such as co-op and an expanded arsenal, Zeno Clash II lead to the disappearance of the series for a decade. Now, in 2023, it reemerges as Clash: Artifact of Chaos.

Coming to PC, PlayStation and Xbox formats this week, Clash: Artifact of Chaos changes things up significantly. While the first two titles offered a unique melee-based first-person experience, Clash: Artifact of Chaos goes third-person. Indeed, the combat is cited by many to lie somewhere between a soulslike and God of War. An interesting proposal, certainly. But is it growth for the series, or simple bandwagoning?

Clash: Artifact of Chaos screenshot

Clash: Artifact of Chaos Story Details

Playing as Pseudo, you become a master of martial arts. The game is set in the same strange land as the Zeno Clash titles, Zenozoik. However, ACE Team are keen to point out that although Clash: Artifacts of Chaos takes place in the same universe as Zeno Clash and Zeno Clash II, the game is entirely independent.

Pseudo’s story begins as he crosses paths with the Boy, a small creature whose mysterious powers have attracted the attention of Gemini, the Mistress of the Artifacts. Pseudo decides to protect him, unaware that much greater forces are involved. You will embark on a search for the Great Artifacts that will help you defeat Gemini.

ACE Team’s description of the world brings back memories of the unique landscapes from the earlier titles:

“Drawing upon both surreal and punk fantasy influences, the world and civilisations of Zenozoik are brimming with fascinating characters, creatures and landscapes. Roam this intriguing land and discover its paths, inhabitants and ancient secrets.”

Clash: Artifact of Chaos screenshot

Melee Makes a Comeback

The Zeno Clash titles were heavily praised for their combat systems. Clash: Artifact of Chaos looks to capitlise on this with another unique style of combat. Attack, dodge, stun, block, counter all look and sound familiar. However, there’s also a switch to first-person view to perform unique techniques. Exactly how this mechanic will work in-game is not yet known, but it’s interesting to see another unique take on the prized first-person combat system of the original title.

As you progress through the game, you’ll learn various martial arts techniques. You can alternate between each of them to take advantage any given situation. For example, enemy weaknesses to specific movesets. As would be expected, victories will enable you to improve your characteristics and upgrade your attacks.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the combat however, is the pre-game element. Before fighting, you can challenge your opponent to a game of dice, with the winner defining the rules of the encounter. Summon a monster as an ally, cover the area in fog, or having shackles to limit movement. It’s a system that could lead to great exploitation if not handled correctly, but could also make for some genuinely exciting clashes.

Clash: Artifact of Chaos - Zeno Edition

Clash: Artifact of Chaos Release Details

As stated above, Clash: Artifact of Chaos is launching on multiple formats. The game will be available for Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 and PC. The launch date is arriving very soon indeed – 9th March, 2023 – and is available to pre-order now.

The Clash: Artifact of Chaos – Zeno Edition offers a number of pre-order bonuses, including some which reflect on the series’ history. The Lone Fighter Pack for pre-orders includes two unique skins, while the physical release offers the following contents:

  • Base game;
  • 2 Zeno Clash Armors;
  • 3 Headwears for the Boy;
  • Humiliation Artifact;
  • Digital Artbook;
  • Original Soundtrack.

Clash: Artifact of Chaos looks set to be another interesting addition to the Zeno Clash series. Hopes are high that ACE Team can do their groundbreaking original justice, and haven’t just pasted the beauty of Zenozoik onto a by-the-numbers soulslike clone. Will you be finding out for yourself later this week? Let us know in the comments below!

Categories: Games