Zengeon from developer 2P Games and publisher PQube is an action adventure top-down brawler. The game has a very distinct anime aesthetic and looks gorgeous but does it stack up against the titans in the genre it finds itself in?
In Zengeon players will choose one of six different characters to play as. This will be their character for their run through the game but unfortunately, the story is the same for each character. You’re introduced to the game’s barely existent story by a cutscene that plays right at the start of the game which tells you about a great evil that’s been released. Your master, Nanzi, then sends you on your way to fight against this evil and that’s all there is to it.
Players can choose from Murong Yuqing, Liu Muying, Yuan Ziyu, Hou Shuyan, and He Ruolin with certain characters being locked behind progression requirements. Playing as Yuan Ziyu at first is the best option because Zengeon is a ridiculously difficult game.
Gameplay in Zengeon involves moving your character around rather similar looking areas populated with immense amounts of monsters and enemies. You will use your selected character’s skills to defeat these enemies and then face off against a boss enemy. It’s fairly straightforward and this type of gameplay mechanic is fairly standard these days. Zengeon introduces some upgrades and powerups which can be found in obelisk-like objects and treasure chests which buff your selected character.
Now, where the game truly falters is in its difficulty. Playing through Zengeon solo will result in you most likely dying to enemies as they quite simply overwhelm you. Even if you play super carefully, chances are, you will die. If you do somehow manage to get through a level, the next one will lead to your demise. Zengeon is quite clearly meant to be played cooperatively with another player lending you support as you both battle through hordes of enemies in the game’s various levels.
Unfortunately, because the game throws numerous enemies at you, the game runs atrociously on Nintendo Switch with a lot of slowdown and frame rate drops. Players are very easily swarmed in this game so it’s disappointing that this is the case. This occurs in both handheld and docked mode throughout and it’s honestly game ruining.
Being a roguelike at its core, Zengeon also does not feature a save system so if you’re doing well on a run through the levels, you’ll want to pause the action by putting your Nintendo Switch into sleep mode. Dying repeatedly and having to fight through waves of enemies again and again does get quite repetitive too without the payoff seen in other roguelike titles these days.
The art style employed by Zengeon looks visually appealing enough but you cannot zoom into the battles and a lot of the character’s minute details are never really seen because there’s too much going on at once during battles. The flashy attacks, skill animations and effects do look good in action though and the environments are fine. The soundtrack of Zengeon is not bad either with a clear Eastern theme running through it and the sound effects of the attacks are well done too.
Overall, Zengeon is an average roguelike title that could have used a lot more polish, balancing and work to make it succeed in a field that’s flooded with some stellar games. If you’re looking for an anime aesthetic roguelike, this will scratch your itch but be sure to play it co-op with someone else because as a single player game, this will be quite difficult to get through due to the sheer number of enemies you have to fight against.
Developer: IndieLeague Studio
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows, macOS, Nintendo Switch, Macintosh operating systems, Xbox One
Publishers: 2P Games, PQube
Game was reviewed on Nintendo Switch
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