Zenzizenzic Review

Zenzizenzic is a twin-stick bullet hell that throws in roguelike elements to create something fresh.

Zenzizenzic on PC

When games decide to merge genres, sometimes it comes off very strangely on a first look. Hailing itself as a “roguelike twin-stick bullet hell,” Zenzizenzic definitely threw me off when I first read the description. Somehow, though, developer bitHuffel makes it work much better than I think it has any right to, and ends up creating a unique and ultimately fun game. While it’s not likely to convert those who aren’t into the twin-stick shoot-em-up genre already, those who are could find a special and very well-made treat here.

Zenzizenzic starts players off by recommending the Classic Mode, which plays like most any twin-stick shooter out there. A brief tutorial runs through the controls and power ups. While there’s not too much special here, players do get the opportunity to equip two ‘special’ weapons that really level the playing field, as well as the ability to either slow down or speed up the movement of your ship. Along with the pretty slick, responsive controls and vivid visual design, these small things add up to create a pretty solid shoot-em-up experience that’s easy to pick up but still offers a challenge for genre veterans.

What sets Zenzizenzic apart is, of course, the roguelike Macro Mode. Here, players play under roughly the same rules as in Classic Mode, with a few tweaks and a ton of upgrades that can boost a player’s weapons, movement, and more. Players that survive in this mode for around 5 minutes will find themselves pitted against the game’s biggest, baddest bosses in order to proceed. There’s tons of space to explore, and a world of ever-changing walls that keep things fresh with each play. Throw in the many upgrades, either collected or purchased with points from one of the mode’s many stores, and you’ve got a pretty special and highly-randomized experience that continues to throw tougher challenges and greater rewards out for those who persevere.

Zenzizenzic Store

At the shop, players can spend their hard-earned points on weapons and upgrades to make the going a little easier.

I’d be selling Zenzizenzic short if I didn’t take a moment to mention the superb visual and sound design, as well. The smooth animations, bright colors, and pounding electronic soundtrack create a phenomenal player experience that’s easy to get lost in while playing. The sharp geometric shapes to everything make it clear what’s dangerous and what’s not while playing, and overall the aesthetic lends itself to the frantic, constantly-moving action that players expect from the genre. It may not be the best-looking shooter out there, but it’s certainly not the worst-looking by any stretch.

In the end, Zenzizenzic is a great game for those who like the twin stick shoot-em-up genre, but may be looking for something with a little more to it. Great design, smooth controls, and plentiful upgrades and weapon options means there’s plenty to check out, and the ever-growing Macro Mode offers a unique take. Packed up for a neat $9.99 ($7.99 on sale through July 30) on Steam, there’s plenty to justify the price and I wouldn’t hesitate to say anyone who’s a fan of the genre should check the title out — and if you’re on the fence, jump on the sale price and find out if it’s right for you!

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