Platforms: PC | Developer: bitHuffel | Publisher: Adult Swim Games | ESRB: N/A
Zenzizenzic is a trippy little 2D twin stick shooter that packs a powerful punch. The game is built with geometric shapes, a lot of polygon looking bad guys, ordained with psychedelic paint jobs that flash and transform.
The first few minutes of this mind expanding shoot ’em up are slow. The game walks you through a boring, albeit witty, tutorial, but it’s probably a necessity because Zenzizenzic has a couple of interesting mechanics you should know about before you take to the polygon skies.
Your craft is a small cube with a turret in the middle. You control the movement of the craft with WASD and spin the turret with the mouse, right click to shoot. The game is also game pad compatible. Shift will boost your speed and Alt will slow you. These controls are integral to achieving glory in Zenzizenzic.
The game is split up into a few different game modes. You’ve got the classic level system which requires you to unlock new levels using your cumulative high score. There’s also a game mode that allows you to practice the boss battles. My personal favourite though, and a stand-out element in Zenzizenzic, was the open world rogue-like mode.
In rogue-like, the player navigates above glass cities bustling with enemies to encounter. There are also shops in this mode that will sell you upgrades for points. Open-world gameplay is uncommon in twin stick shooters, but Zenzizenzic proves that it’s not only a good idea, but a great one. This game mode allows the player to become immersed in this imaginary world. I found I enjoyed Zenzizenzic a lot more once my imagination committed to the game’s universe.
While the rogue-like mode was able to immerse me into this game’s universe, it took a little longer for the level mode to have the same effect. Because everything from projectiles to buildings to bad guys is made from geometric shapes, a lot of which are square and rectangular, it can be confusing to differentiate the objects on screen. Once I ate my shirt three or four times I did get a grasp on which objects I could shoot and which I couldn’t, but it definitely took some time before it became second nature.
Apart from the learning curve, Zenzizenzic is a fast-paced game built to keep you scrambling. The enemies will overwhelm you with projectiles for most of any level. Using the boost and brakes, the player has to juke through the narrow openings between missiles and bullets. When you get the upper hand on a squad of baddies, your own projectiles will be the culprit of chaos. As you collect weapon upgrades your craft will shoot multiple projectiles at enemies. You most certainly want to load your craft with as many upgrades as possible before the boss battles, but as a side effect of the increased fire power, the screen becomes so busy that it takes a high level of focus to steer the cube with confidence.
Zenzizenzic is a psychedelic thrill ride through neon pixel hell. As far as twin stick shooters go, this game holds its own. In a market flooded with indie shoot ’em ups, it has a unique rogue-like mode that offers fans of the genre a new experience.
Review copy provided by the publisher.