Zanki Zero: Last Beginning

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Title: Zanki Zero: Last Beginning
Developer: Spike Chunsoft
Publisher: SPIKE CHUNSOFT
Website: https://spike-chunsoft.com/zaz/
Genre: Dungeon Crawler, RPG, Survivor
Platform: PS4
Audience: 16
Release Date: 09/04/19
Price: ££49.99 – Rapid Reviews UK were very kindly provided with a review code for this title.

What The Developers say

God created the world in seven days. It took one for humans to destroy it. Life as we knew it sank to the depths of the sea, and now the ruins drift across the Earth. The reason we were left in this world, Is a question still unanswered…

https://store.playstation.com/en-gb/product/EP3617-CUSA14971_00-ZANKIZEROPS40000

Introduction

Anyone who has played a Spike Chunsoft game before will know that the story in their games are out there and crazy such as; Danganronpa series or Steins: Gate. If you have not played a Spike Chunsoft game then Zanki Zero: Last Beginning is an excellent place to start, and yes it is crazy.

Zanki Zero: Last Beginning starts with Haruto Higurashi throwing himself off the top of a building. Not dying but instead waking on a beach after being underwater and hearing a strange message.

With no idea where he is Haruto is met by Sachika Hirasake a mysterious young girl with a prosthetic arm and leg. Sachika tells Haruto there are six other survivors on Garage Island. Strangely each of the other survivors knows Haruto’s name and explain that it was said to them by the TV show Extend TV.

Extend TV gives the eight survivors missions such as build a toilet. Along with mission Extend TV is the only source of information on Garage Island.

Extend TV tells the survivors that they are all clones and the metal cross in their belly button “Cross Key” that holds all their memories and skills, and as long as they have the Cross keys everyone can be brought back to life…

Audio and Visual

Zanki Zero: Last Beginning is voice acted the whole way through, It can be in English or in Japanese. I left it on English as there is a lot of talking as most of the story is played out in a visual novel style, with lots of information being thrown at the play. Honestly, the voice actors do a great job of conveying the emotions and the different personalities of each of the eight characters. With some lines making me laugh out loud.

The music is upbeat and gets my head bopping. The Garage Island theme got stuck in my head. Each piece of music goes well with the games current happenings. With the sound effects also being of a high standard there is not much to moan about with the Audio.

Visually, Zanki Zero: Last Beginning has an anime feel to it. The bright colour pallets of Junk Island, to the dark and dingy dilapidated office complex. The Visual Novel sections have beautifully drawn characters and some really lovely backgrounds, especially on the beach.

Even with the beautiful parts, there are some strange design choices. The items found on the floor or after defeating an enemy are pixelated and seem very out of place, to begin with.

The overall graphical presentation is a little lacklustre, with some simple textures and overly simplistic models used for parts of a dungeon, not to mention the repetitive nature of interactable objects. It does give the feel of being anime but feels somewhat cheap when taking a closer look.

The graphics grew on me after the first dungeon even if a little lazy and odd at times. It gives Zanki Zero: Last Beginning personality that a lot of other games in this genre are missing.

Gameplay & Replayability

While playing Zanki Zero: Last Beginning it becomes abruptly clear,  that it is not like other Dungeon Crawlers. There are survival elements to consider, age of the characters, needs of the individual along with the usual RPG decisions to be made.

The survival element plays a significant role within the game. Each character will have a stamina bar, that starts at 100%. While in the dungeons this will slowly deplete with every attack, once it hit zero that character will lose health fast. Making finding food and water a proprity to top up the stamina, as well as health. Along with food and water building, materials can be found throughout the dungeons.

The party, however, cannot carry everything and anything that they feel like either. Each character has a weight limit and depending on the current age this will vary significantly. If overburdened, the party cannot move. Luckily the backup party members carry limit does not affect the mobility of the party. If a party a member dies everything they were holding is dropped.

Another survival element is Garage Island, where the eight survivors live. With all the building items found it is possible to upgrade the island and better look after the survivors. A kitchen can be built for instance, and any buildings that already exist can be improved, for an increasing amount of material. With each upgrade, it will unlock better recipes for food items or increase its effectiveness. There is a requirement of getting updates or using new recipes, one or more survivors will need to meet a specific requirement, for instance, to cook better meals level 2 cooking is required. This stops from levelling up all building to maximum early on in the game.

I have mentioned Aging a few times now but what does that mean? Each of the characters is a clone of the real person who they once were. All memories are stored in a cross key in the bellybutton. With clones comes one problem they do not last long in fact 13 days then they die. Growing up has advantages and disadvantages. For instance, as a child, the character will have more stamina but less attack power.

Managing the ages and the deaths of each character is of the utmost importance. The days advance after a night on Garage Island as well as one day per floor of the dungeon. You really do not want to be left in a dungeon with two dead characters.

Fear, not all can be saved with the use of the Extend Device. This will grow a brand new clone of a dead survivor as soon as the Cross Key is inserted, and you have enough points. As the game progresses, the Extend Device will gain more functions.

With Zanki Zero: Last Beginning being a dungeon crawler there will inevitably be fights, lots of fights. All fights are done in real time, this means no load times and all the action happens as you are moving around.

While attacking it is possible to do a standard strike, or a heavy strike by holding the square button. While performing a heavy strike, more stamina is used. There is also a combo attack where two or more party members attacks at the same time, this does devastating damage but uses up an even more substantial amount of stamina than a strong strike. After each confrontation, the party will be allocated EXP and Points. Points are for the Extend Device to revive a clone or to leave the dungeon.

As progressing the characters will level up once the EXP thresh hold is met, improving base statistics by a set amount. Along with EXP Skill points are gained. Skill points will unlock a whole range of skills from increased attack while a certain age, to cooking skills (providing the character has enough of them).

Lastly, there is no one main character within the game, each character will be playable in their own chapter, this will expand on their own personal sin as well as their back stories though VHS tapes on Extend TV. Each of the characters are based on one of the seven deadly sins and the original sin. This makes for a more diverse story as well as seeing it from a different person’s own perspective. This was a great idea and was executed sublimely.

Zanki Zero: Last Beginning has some replay value. Within the visual novel sections, some choices need to be made, picking the different option will change the dialogue. To further add to replayability there are different difficulty setting, playing on hard also offers items not attainable on the other settings.

There is still plenty more to discover in Zanki Zero: Last Beginning, but I would be here for another 500+ words.

Conclusion

Zanki Zero: Last Beginning offers a dungeon crawler experience like no other I have played on consoles. With so much content it will keep any dungeon crawler fan (like myself) very busy. The mixture of different genres works perfectly here, and the story will confuse and make you laugh and everything else in between. If you are a fan of these types of games, this is a must try.

Rapid Reviews UK Rating

You can purchase Zanki Zero: Last Beginning from the PlayStation Store on the following link,https://store.playstation.com/en-gb/product/EP3617-CUSA14971_00-ZANKIZEROPS40000

About Keith Lavelle

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