Developer ACE Team’s latest game Clash: Artifacts of Chaos had been on our radar for quite a while, and it’s finally out for PCs, Xbox and PlayStation. We took a look at the game on a PlayStation 5.
In all honesty, the biggest reason that we had been keen to test Clash: Artifacts of Chaos was its gorgeous and unique art style – we didn’t know too much about the game beyond that as we hadn’t been able to see it in action or go hands on with it yet. And even if this is the first time you’re hearing about the game, chances are that you’ll immediately notice those visuals before looking past them towards the gameplay. With a combination of cel shading and texture work that looks like it was penciled in, it’s gorgeous to look at – and there’s a bizarre fantasy-like world to explore that style in as well.
With a mix of animals, organic materials and anthropomorphic characters set against a fantasy backdrop, Clash: Artifacts of Chaos is bright and surreal, and perhaps its closest siblings are the developer’s Zero Clash games – which will mostly be known to PC gamers. The narrative is brought to life by these characters and decent voice acting, and revolves around a young owl-boy whom you (as a warrior) have to protect after his grandfather is killed. Ultimately, this pits protagonist Pseudo against Gemini, the bad guy of the story, and the surreal fairytale-like world and its story beats make you want to push on.
But where the audiovisual component hits the mark, the gameplay is a bit inconsistent. The combat mechanics from Zeno Clash carry over to a degree here, with third/first person combat that heavily features melee – but at the same time there are mechanics that feel out of place – like a dice game before each fight. It’s optional in nature, but it feels like it breaks the flow and never feels rewarding because it relies too much on luck rather than skill.
Other mechanics work out better, like the fact that Pseudo has both a nighttime and a daytime form – each one with different abilities. This factors into areas you can traverse, but also into a few interesting puzzles. And combat is a lot deeper and more involved than you’d guess based on a rather brief tutorial, leading us to another area where Clash: Artifacts of Chaos could have been better. This is a game that would benefit from just a bit more handholding – both in terms of mechanics and in terms of in-game guidance, in the early game as well as later on, where it can be a challenge to stay on track towards your next objective.
None of these issues stop Clash: Artifacts of Chaos from being intriguing and captivating though, and a gentle price tag should help players looking to take a chance on it. With its unique audiovisual world building, it’s worth the journey.
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