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GINX TV > Reviews > Tales of Kenzera: ZAU

Preview: Tales of Kenzera: ZAU Spotlights A Setting I’ve Craved In Games

Rich in Bantu culture, Tales of Kenzera: ZAU is ready to offer players something special.
Preview: Tales of Kenzera: ZAU Spotlights A Setting I’ve Craved In Games
Surgent Studios

When it comes to Metroidvania-style games, I border on clueless most of the time. But if a game is interesting enough, bold enough, it transcends personal taste and encourages players to step outside of their comfort zone. Tales of Kenzera: ZAU is that game for me. 

Having only experienced glimpses of it through a digital preview, I’m beyond excited to get stuck in, and that’s largely thanks to its heavy Bantu influence. For years, I’ve been hungry for more games set in Africa, taking influence from the continent’s deep and rich cultures. There are so many stories that have been left untouched that would lend themselves beautifully to video game storytelling. Tales of Kenzara: ZAU seems set to provide that on an immensely intricate level, through its environments, soundtrack, cast, and more. 

Zau, a young shaman, is learning to cope with the loss of his father. (Picture: Surgent Studios)

Centering on the theme of grief, players follow the story of Zau, a young shaman coming to terms with the loss of his father. A deeply personal tale from the game’s director Abubakar Salim. Perhaps best known for his role of Bayek in Assassin’s Creed Origins, Salim founded Surgent Studios in 2019. Tales of Kenzera: ZAU will be the studio’s debut, and an excellent way to make an entrance. Zau is tasked with capturing the spirits of three monsters to make an offering to the God of Death, who promises to revive his father as an exchange. 

What strikes me the most about Tales of Kenzera: ZAU is how interconnected the themes of grief and duality seem to be within elements of the game. Art Lead Ackeem Durrant walked us through the biomes, and how they reflect certain themes largely through color. For example, purple tones connect with themes of spirituality and loss, which carry through across the Zau’s clothing. Warmer tones reflect themes of anxiety and responsibility, and characters that share these burdens are also presented in these color schemes. 

Tales of Kenzera: ZAU features encounters inspired by Bantu mythology. (Picture: Surgent Studios)

Combat appears fluid, leveraging on two main playstyles: Mask of the Moon, which leans on ranged combat and crowd control; Mask of the Sun, which is best suited to close quarters encounters and focused combat. Which of the two is most effective depends on the enemies and boss fights players encounter throughout their journey, all of which are inspired by Bantu mythology. 

From a short view into the world of Tales of Kenzera: ZAU, it seems that nothing has been done in half-measures. The setting, characters, and soundtrack all seem poised to serve the bigger picture. The game is set to be voiced in both English and Swahili, and while the English voice cast features an array or great talent, I can’t pass up the opportunity to experience the game with such authenticity. 

The video game industry seems infatuated with Norse and Greek mythology, and while we’ve seen some wonderful titles over the years with those inspirations, it’s time we moved on. If, like me, you’re crying out for different perspectives and narrative visions, Tales of Kenzera: KAU is where we should be looking. 

Tales of Kenzera: KAU will launch on April 23, 2024 on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, and PC. The game will also be arriving on PlayStation Plus as part of the April offerings.