If you’re finding the wait for Hollow Knight Silksong unbearable, the Tales of Kenzera: Zau Steam Next Fest demo is the perfect remedy. Out soon, this Metroidvania was shown off heavily at The Game Awards, and, despite some jank when I played it earlier this week, all I can think is what comes next.
To start, Tales of Kenzera: Zau’s combat has a great foundation. You switch between two masks that offer ranged and close-quarters attacks on the fly, which not only gives you a lot to work with straight away, but also presents a level of choice in combat that I wasn’t expecting from the Metroidvania game. Making on-the-fly decisions in Zau, and trying to maximize your effectiveness in different encounters, could go a long way, especially if the difficulty curve and ability options feed into it.
On that note, Zau gives you a lot to play around with in the demo itself. Not only do you have a good amount of traversal and combat options right away, but you also get your first Metroidvania ability, and it ticks all the necessary boxes. It’s a simple tenet of the Metroidvania genre, but combined with the fluid movement and already engaging combat, it shows that Zau has a great understanding of the basics.
From Surgent Studios, founded by Assassin’s Creed Origins Bayek actor Abubakar Salim, Zau’s time at The Game Awards also promised it was a game about grief. Salim said on the show’s stage that he wants to use Zau as a way to explore grief and honor his late father, and the pieces of this narrative are set up so well in the demo alone. The full narrative is yet to deliver on the promise of Zau’s exploration of grief, but what I played already feels well-versed in how grief can consume and blind us, especially to the rest of the world.
Unfortunately, Zau was quite buggy for me, so do beware of that going into the Steam Next Fest demo. However, I’m not going to judge an entire game based on a demo, considering it might not represent the full game.
Still, Tales of Kenzera: Zau feels like an incredibly promising Metroidvania that understands the genre at its core, so here’s hoping the full game lives up to that. If you want to learn more, our Tales of Kenzera: Zau guide has you covered.
You’ll find the Tales of Kenzera: Zau demo over on Steam right now, with a 10% discount available for the full game until launch day on Tuesday, April 23.