Pseudo sitting down with the boy in Clash: Artifacts of Chaos.

Clash: Chaos Artifacts Review

Clash: Chaos Artifacts Review


need to know

what is it? A third-person fighting adventure from the makers of Zeno Clash and other oddities.
expect to pay £25 / $30
developer ace team
publisher Nacon
Reviewed on RTX 2070, i7-10750H, 16GB RAM
multiplayer game? No
steam deck not applicable
Association: Official Website(opens in a new tab)

Conflict: Chaos Artifact is like Anti-Ares. It bears enough family resemblance to Sony’s franchise revival to draw comparisons, but its design philosophy is hardly different. In particular, if you’ve ever thought that God of War would benefit from a more hands-off approach to propelling you through your adventures, rest assured that Clash keeps its sweaty palms in check.

If this sounds wonderful to those who dislike games filled with symbols and NPCs babbling away telling them where to go and how to get there, however, heed the old adage: “Be careful what you want, you might Will get it” Pushing through Clash’s rich world and splintered narrative is often a richer experience thanks to the absence of supervisory noise. So far, however, it has swung the player guidance pendulum to the opposite extreme, and you may find yourself desperate for a quest marker or eager companion to point the way.

(Image credit: ACE Team)(opens in a new tab)

At times, Chilean developer ACE Team seems to be really emphasizing God of War, not least because the main character, Pseudo, is almost a parody of Kratos, like the Greek champion’s dwarf emerging from the trash. The nameless recluse is a misshapen bag of muscles, all with shaky shoulders, unevenly spaced toes, and a bald head sticking out, literally, like a sore thumb. While he’s as gruff as Kratos, he’s really a big softie who sounds more like George Clooney than a battle-hardened fighter. Meanwhile, his diminutive traveling companion is a spherical owl known only as “Boy.” whatever you want.

What is certain is that the visual design of Pseudo and his homeworld will only enhance ACE Team’s reputation for stunning surrealism, previously established in the Zeno Clash series (the series’ sequel) and The Eternal Cylinder. The evocative eccentricity here is further enhanced by the love of bright colors that Clash shares with God of War. Despite the AA production values, ACE makes it sing by transforming its environment and inhabitants into colored pencil drawings, adorned with bottomless tones and cross-hatching. It’s a mesmerizing effect (apart from the occasional erratic frame rate) that requires you to drink green on every exotic bush you pass.

There is a degree of that color in the story too, albeit more subdued. Pseudo came across his companions by chance after the boy’s grandfather was killed, and decided to help the little guy find refuge. However, when it turns out that he is wanted by some shady figures, the two find themselves embarking on an adventure. It’s a journey that takes them to Zenozoic lands, a path into faction territory and would-be bounty hunters. For the most part here, might is right, so you have to fight for your own good, but The Clash also uses its cast to contemplate some wonderfully twisted ideologies, including a memorable encounter with a cast of fatalistic actors.

(Image credit: ACE Team)(opens in a new tab)

This shows that Clash wants you to think strategically before entering.

No matter what role they play, the folk and wild animals you meet and fight are extraordinary. Although, as far as people are concerned, it’s usually because they seem like a series of backfired experiments aimed at merging Homo sapiens and Beast. They were stocky, springy people with rugged accents and faces that could find a home in Picasso’s Guernica. When you meet the first guy, a solid guy with his head pressed into his torso, slapping his face for a fight, you know you’re putting on a show.

These encounters are made even more meaningful thanks to rituals you can choose to participate in before combat begins. The “only law” of this land is that any combat challenge must be accepted, the two sides first play a game of dice, the loser forfeit the winner’s choice. For example, they may have to drink slow poison, or be tied to a stake with a rope that restricts their movement. Sometimes the results can be insignificant, but in other cases they can tip the balance in a fight, and the ritual itself is a neat tactic.

This is a sign that Clash wants you to think strategically before jumping in. The game’s first fights resemble drunken bar fights, as you and your opponent exchange thick fists until one of you goes down, or hilarity ensues as multiple opponents line up and accidentally slap each other. But as the game makes clear, most enemies are stronger than you, and you’re faster, so you’ll soon have to punch like a boxer above their weight, punch and retreat, or dodge swings to go fast combination. In doing so, you build up a power meter that you can trigger when it’s full to enter first-person mode (a callback to Zeno Clash), dealing quick damage before performing the finishing move. Alternatively, you can wade in with weapons — crude hammers and clubs, mostly — but they break after a while and are usually best reserved for the toughest customers.

(Image credit: ACE Team)(opens in a new tab)

While Clash encourages a deliberate approach to striking, actually executing your plan is far less satisfying. Since you’re weaker than your opponent, small mistakes can be costly, and because enemies are unpredictable, approaching and relying on dodge or sponge parry mechanics can be very dangerous. You also can’t tell when your attacks will interrupt theirs, so doing full combos is dangerous. Especially when outnumbered, your best bet is to hover at a distance, attack with your projectile-throwing ability (essential for discovery), and bait enemies into attacking each other. Once you try to attack, you run the risk of being struck by lightning.

The only mercy here is that when Pseudo dies, he reawakens at night into a body made of wood, nails, and red wool, a form that offers you a second chance after dark Come against those who beat you. If you can defeat them, you can resurrect Pseudo’s physical body and continue your merry way. However, the second attempt fails and it reverts to your last savepoint. Knowing that you have this backup shot will take the frustration out of you even if a less punishing system or a flexible difficulty setting would be preferable.

(Image credit: ACE Team)(opens in a new tab)

get lost

Unfortunately, this ostensibly open world is overcomplicated for its own good.

As for Why Pseudo has a nocturnal timber alter ego… well, one of the endearing qualities of Clash is that it needs no explanation. It’s a mysterious feature of a strange world that may or may not be clarified, but either way it adds to the sense that there’s more going on beneath the surface. It’s one reason Zenozoic appeals to adventurers, and more importantly because you can often sail in peace, contemplating the lies of the land, and what it all means. The boy breaks the silence occasionally, but doesn’t feel the need to fill every second with chat. The stunning vistas suffice, with long distances fading to muted tones, and some of the music is haunting, a bit like NieR: Automata.

Unfortunately, this ostensibly open world is overcomplicated for its own good. At first, it feels suffocating — a maze of dense paths carved into calf-high obstacles marking invisible walls — then unravels in dizzying fashion, with no visual logic to prioritize one direction over the other. the other direction. Side paths lead to treasure, but there are also further branches that branch off from each other until you can barely remember where you started, while main passages can be semi-hidden and require repeated scanning of an area to discover. Locations lack the same intuitive connectivity as something like Dark Souls, or instant unique geography, or unique shortcuts that help you mentally tie locations together. You can spend a lot of time getting lost in Clash, or mistakenly returning to places you’ve already been. I preemptively sympathize with those who take a break in the middle and try to return.

(Image credit: ACE Team)(opens in a new tab)

Even the map is completely hopeless–a tiny square on the inventory screen that requires six button presses to view. The Pseudo appears above as a small circle instead of an arrow, surrounded by only a few place names and vaguely outlined landmarks. That might work if the landscape always enabled you to see distant destinations, but it doesn’t. For example, early in the game, you’re advised to head to “town,” but you can’t see anything that looks like a town on the horizon. It also doesn’t help much when you’re getting your bearings, since the route is unlikely to be a straight line.

Compared to a game like God of War, Clash is almost sluggish offensively, while its challenge level oscillates between breezy and breezy. It also fails to provide small rewards or generate a sense of accomplishment when you go through hardships, because success often comes from honed stubbornness. However, there is something to be said for Clash’s refusal to explain its ideas, locations, and wacky creatures the way God of War did. It’s more efficient at world building, characterization, and drawing, so it’s easier to interpret. Pseudo may be Kratos’ smaller, weaker (and poorer) sibling, but at least he has a deeper, more interesting soul.

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Bart Thompson
Bart is's List Writer . He is from Houston, Texas, and is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in creative writing, majoring in non-fiction writing. He likes to play The Elder Scrolls Online and learn everything about The Elder Scrolls series.