Fight Against Biopunk Horror In This Dystopian Future
Sometimes when you’re at a convention, certain games just speak to you. I must have walked past the booth for Slave Zero X a half dozen times before I finally listened to the voice in my head screaming at me to sit still. I’m very glad I did, because Slave Zero X was one of my most pleasant surprises from PAX West. Developed by Poppy Works and published by Ziggurat Interactive, it’s not only an action-packed adventure with stylish art, but something more fascinating. It’s by the team behind Devil Engine, and features the writing of Miles Luna (RWBY). It’s also inspired by the unused concept art for the original 1999 Slave Zero set in the same biopunk universe. This game aims to do justice to the original style of the game, and so far I’d say it’s succeeding admirably.
One of the coolest things about Slave Zero X is just the art style. It looks like a manga brought to bloody life. All the characters are hand drawn, but they walk across 3D backgrounds and objects. It sounds odd, but I appreciate how it was reminiscent of some of my favorite games of the PS2 era. More importantly, it looks wonderful, and makes the fast-paced, brutal combat all the more enjoyable.
This is definitely a game catering to fans of Devil May Cry, Guilty Gear and the like. You can unleash powerful attacks both on the ground and in mid-air. You can also counter any attack thrown at you, so long as you have good timing. If you’re really lucky, you can even enter a powerful vampiric state where every foe you hit heals your health, which can be vital, since Slave Zero X is not an easy game. But it’s definitely a fun one.
I spent most of my demo learning the basics, dashing around and generally making a bloody mess. Luckily you also have sub weapons, which can be the difference between life and death, especially when battling the powerful bosses. I got into a groove of dashing, juggling foes with my sword, and slamming them into the earth from the air. It flows remarkably well, but don’t be surprised if it takes a minute to get the hang of the combat. It’s very nuanced and expects you to spend the time to learn how to use it properly.
If you like what you’ve heard, here’s the good news. Slave Zero X is coming sometime in Q1 2023 to pretty much everything. That includes PC, Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Series X|S. So if you like a meaty challenge and brutal combat, this is definitely one you should keep on your radar.