Zeno Clash Combat Guide: Put Em Up!
Zeno Clash's combat system is one of the most unique to be seen in a first-person game for years. It is also one of the most brutal. It is easy to freak when some werido punches you in the face. But with nerves of steel and patience, you can be the kung-fu master of Zenozoik.
A Slamming Good Time
Chances are good that you've never played a game like Zeno Clash before. The game, best described as a first-person brawler, contains vicious bare-knuckle hand-to-hand combat far more visceral than anything to be found in recent, similar titles, such as Mirror's Edge. Getting the most out of the game depends on learning the combat system. It is easy to become frustrated after a few defeats, particularly in the fights against multiple opponents, which occur often and can be quite difficult. But Zeno Clash is a rewarding game to master, and well worth the effort of training yourself in its vocabulary of combat.
At the most basic level you have three moves. These are the punch, the combo punch, and the strong punch. Punching is done by clicking the left mouse button, and a combo punch of three blows is performed by keeping the button down. A strong punch is performed with the right mouse button. The combo punch is your bread-and-butter, as it is quick and fairly damaging. Using these light blows repeatedly against a foe will put them into a stunned state, allowing you to throw them or pummel them at will. The strong punch is also very important, as it does a serious amount of damage and has some special properties. First, it will knock down a stunned foe. Second, it can be used against blocking opponents as a block-buster, although you need to follow up your strong punch with a standard attack for this to work.
More advanced moves that you will learn include the charge and the defensive punch. The charge is performed by sprinting into an enemy and pressing the left mouse button. This attack doesn't do a ton of damage but it does throw your enemy off guard for a moment, letting you get in more blows. The defensive punch is performed by moving backwards and pressing the right mouse button. You'll slowly move back your hand and then release a furious blow that can knock an enemy off his feat.
The most basic defensive move is the block, which is performed by pressing the space bar. The block will stop most incoming attacks from the front. It does fatigue you, however, which means you can't just sit behind your arms and take punishment forever. Second is the dodge. The dodge can be performed by pressing either of the strafe keys and the spacebar while an enemy attack is incoming. If you've performed the dodge correctly, time should slow down, giving you a window to perform an offensive counter-attack.
Both of block and dodge have counter-attacks associated with them. If you block at the exact moment that an enemy blow is incoming, you will deflect the blow. If you the follow up with what would be a normal attack, you'll perform a strong kick that sends your attacker flying. If you attack while performing a dodge (specifically, while the time-slow effect is active) then you'll perform a strong punch which knocks your enemy off their feet. Both of these moves can be difficult to pull off, but they do a huge amount of damage.
Facing A Lone Enemy
When dealing with a single enemy, things are fairly straight-forward. You will want to keep your opponent in your sights at all times, and you'll want to pay close attention to the standard defensive moves. Since there is no chance that anyone is going to flank you, block is very effective and should be used often. Dodge is also extremely helpful, and powerful counter-attacks that are triggered off blocking or dodging an enemy attack at the right moment are going to be your most effective form of offense.
Be sure to keep your eyes open and read your opponents movements. It is notable that while single opponents require less frantic combat to fight effectively, they are also often stronger than normal opponents and have their own special moves. At least one of the single opponents you'll fight later in the game is absurdly fast, and you'll find that some of your standard tactics, like leading your opponent into a strong punch or charging to get him off-guard, simply do not work.
Facing Many Enemies
For most people it is the multi-enemy fights that will pose the most serious challenge. Because you have more than one enemy against you, the defensive moves that seem so simple against a single opponent become much more complex and difficult to use correctly. You can't just shield yourself behind a block, and dodging can sometimes put you into as much danger as it gets you out of. These moves are still useful, but you need to rely on good-old fashion footwork as well. An enemy can't punch you if you're out of reach. Use this basic fact to your advantage.
Don't stand and fight if your enemies have you surrounded. Run! Your opponents will follow you, allowing you to keep them in your sight (if you run backwards) and in a predictable line, which makes pulling off defensive moves much easier. If you need respite from a barrage of blows, find cover behind buildings, statues, or whatever is available. Your enemies are not as quick as you, and you can run circles around them if you need too. The only thing you must be careful of when running about is an enemy with a ranged weapon, but you can take care of them quickly by sprinting in and hitting them with a charge attack.
Also, remember that you can kick enemies while they're down, and that an opponent sent flying through the air can knock down others. Every stunned enemy is an opportunity; if you take the poor sucker and throw him into his buddy's chest, you'll send both of them tumbling. This tactic will make your life much easier.
Embrace The Challenge
Ultimately, practice helps. If you feel that you're having a hard time, then don't be afraid to make use of challenge mode to practice. Challenge mode isn't any easier (they call it challenge mode for a reason) but you do get the chance to play through a variety of fights time and time again, allowing you to gain more and more skill.
Zeno Clash is not the easiest game in the world, but if you keep these tips in mind you should be able to tackle the entire game on at least the "hard" difficulty without problem. Just remember to keep your cool and play smart. Combat in Zeno Clash feels rough and dangerous, and its easy to panic when backed into corner. But if you make use of all your moves, you can get yourself out of just about any situation.