Clash: Artifacts of Chaos Preview – a fantasy adventure that does everything differently


The way humans are drawn to pretty game visuals is like the way magpies look at shiny things; they just want to take them home and watch them some more. Clash: Artifacts of Chaos isn’t so much pretty as it is visually arresting, with a painterly effect brushed onto some of the most bizarre and imaginative character designs you’ve ever seen. While your brain struggles to figure it out, you’ll definitely need to take it home and examine it some more. While we can’t bring it back yet, we were able to attend Gamescom and chat with designer Carlos Bordeu about the game’s ongoing development.

Clash: Artifacts of Chaos is the third title in the Clash universe, following 2009’s Zeno Clash and its sequel. Set in the enigmatic world of Zenozoik, Artifacts of Chaos sees you take on the role of Nickname, a distinctly ugly mutant who is equally adept at martial arts combat. He finds himself an unsuspecting guardian of the boy, a little bird-like guy who has healing powers and may hold the secret to everything that’s going on.


Carlos explains: “It’s a story based on the narration, exploring the world with this little owl who is on [Pseudo’s] shoulders at all times. He’s a father figure to him. They run away from Gemini, who yearn for the power of the Boy.

Clash: Artifacts of Chaos is like Souls, so you’ll spend the first few hours of the game getting beat up by standard enemies as you find your way around the combat system and start leveling up Nickname’s abilities. Zeno Clash fans might be surprised to find that combat begins in third-person, before switching to first-person once you’ve dealt enough damage to a particular enemy.

The combat feels heavy but with a lot of immediacy, Carlos telling us: “It’s a fighting game. What makes it a fighting game is the undo system. If you notice that when I hit enemies I’m flashing white – it’s very similar to games like Street Fighter where you can negate an attack into a defensive option like dodge or a different or special attack.

He continues, “It’s not like a lot of those third-person games where you go into an attack and you’re basically stuck in the animation and you can’t do anything. In this case, you can cancel. Testing this out certainly helps to make combat feel more immediate and fluid, keeping you ahead of your opponent and able to react in the moment to attacks that come your way.

As with most Souls-likes, Clash: Artifacts of Chaos features a branching network of pathways and structures, with different areas feeding into each other once you pass certain criteria. During our hands-on, we faced a difficult boss – we were reassured by losing that it would be nearly impossible to beat him at this point – and if we got past him, a previously seen door would then open, shortening the route through this area. Speaking of the Souls-like door, Carlos simply states, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Clash: Chaos Battle Artifacts

Going back to the game’s visuals, Clash: Artifacts of Chaos really has to be seen in motion to get the full effect, with the game’s crosshatched pencil filtering a noticeable touch that completely changes the look of the game. Carlos tells us, “It There are two very important things we try with the art style. One is the visual component of the scene, the plants, the cuts, we don’t just go to SpeedTree and select a regular pine or bush, everything is custom made by the artist. Everything is very unique and strange in this fantasy world. You can see it in the demo we played, with completely alien trees and shrubs stretching out of the landscape. It’s really fantastic.

He continues, “The second thing we have completely new to the game is rendering. We’re using Unreal Engine, but it’s heavily modified in order to properly communicate all lighting and stuff. It’s more of a hand painted pencil style. This pencil hatching makes the image almost shimmer as you move through the game, adding to the otherworldly effect the designers have created. It’s somewhere between Sega’s Valkyria Chronicles and Street Fighter IV’s targeted attacks, and when paired with the most imaginative design you’ll see this year, it’s clear that Clash: Artifacts of Chaos is going to stick with you for a while. time.

Clash: Ritual of Chaos Artifacts

It doesn’t stop at the visuals. “One of the aspects that is very different, very unique, is the ritual,” Carlos tells us. “Enemies challenge you to a special ritual, where they present their own artifacts. If he defeats me in the ritual, he will spawn an additional enemy. The ritual plays out as a tactical mini-game, with dice rolls determining the outcome You have a set of artifacts that you can use to influence the dice roll, swinging the game in your favor.Although this is an optional part of the action, changing the tactics is refreshing, and it’s the kind of thing you can imagine people will quietly become more obsessed with than the combat itself.

Clash: Artifacts of Chaos is shaping up to be a truly unique action-adventure game that could rewrite the way developers approach game design.

Clash: Artifacts of Chaos will be released on February 9, 2023 on PC, PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S and Xbox One.



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