Traveling through the dream world of Zenozoik, where the hero Ghat must save his life by winding through chilling landscapes and facing fabulous creatures will no longer be the exclusive privilege of computer owners. A souped-up version of the Zeno Clash videogame, integrally created in Santiago, Chile, by a group of young Chileans, will be available for the Microsoft console starting next year.
Thanks to an agreement signed with the publishing and development company ATLUS, the same company responsible for launching the popular Japanese role playing saga Megami Tensei, the game will be directly downloadable to the hard disk of the console, through the Xbox Live Arcade system, even though it should be available in stores before Christmas in the United States, Canada and Japan, as well as in several European countries.
The game’s imminent massification is a source of pride and satisfaction for the brothers Andrés, Carlos and Edmundo Bordeu, whose initials come together to form the name ACE Team, a company that employs four other people and is already working on a second multiplatform edition of its flagship game, in addition to a parallel project for a more casual audience, but details are cloaked in secrecy for the moment.
All the brothers are now between the ages of 25 and 30, but they made their videogame debut in the mid-90s with a Macintosh Classic, modifying “Martian killer” type games, but then they went on to make a name for themselves in the gaming community with their adaptation of Doom, a hallmark FPS game, introducing Batman and the Gotham City scenario into the videogame.
The story of the Bordeu brothers somehow explains Carlos’ reaction when he was surprised to find his creation ready for illegal downloading a few hours after its release. “Zeno Clash is a game independently financed by very small and hardworking group of people. The only way we can keep making games like this (or a sequel) is if sales are good. We cannot do anything to stop the game from being pirated (and we sincerely do not plan to do so), but if you download the game and you like it, I would like to ask you to subsequently purchase it and thus support independent developers”, was part of his message published on the Internet, which made the headlines due to its friendly standpoint.
“We think that we have put Chile on the map with this fresh new proposal, because people often don’t even know where our country is” stated Andrés regarding his homeland, where the local video games industry was up 12% and invoiced 145 million dollars in 2008, according to the Chilean Software and Services Group (GECHS), that brings together over 70 firms.
Zeno Clash is a “first person shooter” (FPS) game, launched in April and downloadable to computers using systems such as Steam and Direct2Drive, preceded by awards and excellent reviews for those who played the demo version. In the foreground, the specialized portal Mod DB recognized the game as the best new release and its graphics (reminiscent of works by El Bosco and Dali) led to the game’s nomination in the category of Best Visual Arts at the Independent Games Festival, an event considered to be the “Sundance of videogames”.
Soon after its launch, IGN.com surprisingly presented Zeno Clash as its “game of the month” for PCs and the analysis from specialized press and fans started to multiply. “Everyone agreed that it was a new idea, different and risky. Comments were highly positive and that pleased us very much, especially because criticism tends to be more intense for independent proposals”, said Andrés Bordeu.
Video gamers praised the originality of Zeno Clash, its weird and often alienating aesthetics, bizarre and abstract atmosphere and finely crafted hand-to-hand combat, which is especially difficult when it comes to a first person perspective. In addition, the software is outstanding in terms of its stability and technical specifications, which were also highly rated.
All of these features drew the attention of several actors in the multimillion-dollar gaming industry, which saw business opportunities stemming from these Chileans’ creation. In the same way that the game came to ATLUS and a contract was signed in order to include it in the online offers for the Xbox 360, for the first time in history, Tripwire Interactive decided to include a game not produced by the company among its store distribution titles for the United States and Canada.
Although the Christmas holidays may boost sales and the launch of Zeno Clash: Ultimate Edition for the Microsoft console with new contents will lead to new appraisals, the Bordeu brothers have chosen to avoid speculation. At any rate, they expect the game to go over as well or even better than when their game was exclusively for PCs, and though some sales performance was due to special prices, downloads amounted to over 7,000 on the most successful weekends.