Clash: Artifacts of Chaos is a strange title that uses multiple genre tropes. Moreover, it has colourful characters, a stunning fantasy plot, and some slick combat. However, its lack of guidance and secret ways are confusing and this tends to hold it back.
Developed by ACE Team and published by Nacon, this is a fantasy adventure title. What’s more, it uses soulslike mechanics and has a lore-rich story. Additionally, it has some testing combat and a range of fighting styles that can be changed at the touch of a button. Accordingly, there is some tactical nuance among the button-mashing ways.
Clash: Artifacts of Chaos hides a stunning story.
As I’ve aged, my tastes have refined. Yet, one constant is the desire to be entertained by a phenomenal story. Luckily, Clash: Artifacts of Chaos delivers thanks to its dramatic and weird plot. On top of this, the strange fantasy land is full of weird and intriguing characters and monsters. Furthermore, the expansive world has some fascinating locations to explore, mean bosses to overcome, and plenty of moments of luck and fate.
You control the odd-looking Pseudo who lives in the strange land of Zenozoik. This weird chap is a master of martial arts and a lover of peace and quiet. However, his tranquillity and silence are broken when he meets a bird-like creature that needs protection. An evil entity known as Gemini stalks this weird animal. As such, it is your responsibility to protect it and thwart Gemini’s advances. Yet, this heroic act leaves you vulnerable, as a greater power is hidden under the surface.
An open world with limited guidance.
Soulslike games are renowned for their lack of guidance. However, Clash: Artifacts of Chaos takes it too far. Consequently, you spend much of your time negotiating strange arenas. Moreover, each mysterious path isn’t easy to find, and frustration soon creeps in. But if you can accept this time-consuming mechanic, you’ll enjoy a stunning and unusual environment brimming with oddities.
To muddy the water further, there is a day/night cycle that must be mastered. Pseudo changes its form depending on whether the sun is shining. Accordingly, during the day he is a weird yellow patchwork monstrosity. However, as the moon rises, his soft outer shell hardens and he can navigate different pathways. As such, walls of thorns will block your progress. Subsequently, you must enter the surreal nighttime world to hunt the Thorn Guardian and destroy these prickly obstacles.
This two-tiered approach added to the confusion while increasing the difficulty, as well. What’s more, nighttime is increasingly violent as everything wants to kill you. Therefore, you must be alert as Pseudo can be killed and your progress thwarted.
Smooth combat and limited attributes.
The action opens with the choice of 3 combat styles. However, as you explore and find new items, your choices are improved. Depending on your gameplay style, you can adopt a rounded technique, focus on ranged combat, or get up close and personal. Moreover, you can twist each stance with a choice of weapons and armour that’ll change your stats and your tactics.
What was particularly enjoyable about the combat was when you linked multiple attacks. You can cancel the animation between strikes to allow for a smooth transition between combos. The outcome was a delicious and seamless flow of brutal strikes upon every foe. Furthermore, it supports the idea that Pseudo is a martial arts champion.
Where Clash: Artifacts of Chaos falls short is its painful levelling-up system. Sadly, the limited attributes and low XP make this a grinding drag. What’s more, with only 4 areas to focus on, it doesn’t feel unique or personal. Consequently, it is extremely dissatisfying, even though Pseudo is stronger, faster, and more agile.
A game of luck.
Though there are also some minor crafting elements and plenty of resources to find, these mechanics are understated and familiar. What wasn’t normal, though, was the game of luck that formed the backbone of most encounters! A dice game known as “The Ritual” must be performed against intelligent creatures and enemies. These consequence-based duels were interesting in theory, but badly weighted and, as a result, were unfair and annoying.
During each session, you must pick consequence artefacts from your ritual belt. These powerful tools will alter the value of the dice on the table or summon companions to a battle. Moreover, you can negatively impact your foe and improve your odds of success. Yet, rarely did I win one of these events, and the unfair results left a bad taste in my mouth. It was a shame, as in theory, this mechanic should have been brilliant. In reality, it was like fighting every battle blindfolded and with one hand tied behind your back.
Clash: Artifacts of Chaos is beautifully insane.
As expected of the team behind Zeno Clash, Clash: Artifacts of Chaos is stunning to look at. In fact, it is insanely beautiful as it is set in the Zeno Clash world. However, this is an independent title so thankfully, no prior Clash experience is required. Played mainly from a third-person perspective, you can enjoy the vast and odd surrounding environment. Yet, once you fill your combat bar, your perspective shifts to first-person as Pseudo rage-smashes his opponents. This strange shift in vision was unusual, but it worked perfectly.
What was also great was the massive open world that changed depending on the day/night cycle. The winding paths and hidden secrets add to the mystery of the plot. Furthermore, the weird-looking protagonist, stunning colour palette, and strange foes ensure this is a game you won’t forget in a hurry.
The visuals are matched by incredible audio. The variety of tracks and the blend of emotions enhance the already incredible story. On top of this, the brilliant sound effects add drama and oomph to the strange eclectic action.
A clumsy UI.
The control system is pretty good. Yet, the UI is clumsy, and this makes the action sluggish. Additionally, the combat can be overwhelming when never-ending waves of monsters attack. Yet, this wasn’t a surprise as Soulslike titles love to test your resolve throughout. Other than the UI issue, I adored the slick combat and the ability to alter your stance with ease. Furthermore, navigation was mostly trouble-free, and this improved an otherwise testing layer of the gameplay.
Clash: Artifacts of Chaos is a challenging game. Moreover, its cruel death mechanics and bonfire tropes increase the difficulty further still. But once you become familiar with its nuances, you’ll plug away at a fulfilling, albeit weird experience. Subsequently, if you can overcome the levels of frustration, you’ll endure an interesting and odd fantasy title.
Clash: Artifacts of Chaos won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.
This genre divides gamers. Consequently, Clash: Artifacts of Chaos won’t be for everyone. If you then consider the confusing exploration elements and the tough death mechanics, it is a punishing and relentless beast to tame. However, if you can jump through every hoop and master each element, you’ll enjoy a strange game with an exceptional plot and world. Accordingly, though it punished me, I recommend that you buy it here! Can you help the bird-like boy and save the day? Open new paths, fight many monsters, and prevent Gemini from fulfilling her destiny.