Review: Zorro the Chronicles

Oddly when I think of Zorro these days, I think of Puss in Boots from Shrek. Fear not, this is a serious Zorro game – serious in the sense it’s based on actual Zorro, not cat Zorro, but not serious in the sense that it’s a realistic sword-fighting game, as it’s very much aimed at a younger audience.

Zorro has a cartoony style and a wide variety of colourful levels. Played in a 3rd person with a dynamic camera perspective, you are introduced to the mechanics across the opening level, and what you first assume to be a button smasher turns into actually a more accomplished game.

Playing as either Zorro or his sister, you’re introduced to the fighting mechanics. You can slash with your sword, parry with circle or stun with your whip. Mechanically, it’s similar to the Batman Arkham games as you chain together attacks and parry across multiple bad guys. Environment ‘kills’ (no one seems to die just get KOed) are amusing, as Zorro bashes people into walls, into fountains and off buildings. Parries can be more elaborate too, with various dodges and animated rolls weaved into the dance.

A grappling hook mechanic also lets Zorro zoom up and out of harm’s way, onto the top of various buildings and ledges. This is useful as the game introduces a stealth mechanic, as enemies become aware and alerted, and will either run to sound the bell and bring in more baddies. The inspiration is the classic TV series, and comedic sound effects play – the only thing missing is the old-style Batman ‘BOOM’ and “KAPOW’ on screen. Hilariously, Zorro can do super KOs, hitting the L2 button when an enemy is damaged enough which may result in him knocking someone out by cutting a Z into their chest (err, ok) or whistling for a horse to kick someone in the face. And yes, you can cut their belts to make their trousers fall down (instant KO).

Whilst I’m feeling that this is all a bit basic based on looks, and clunky gameplay, I found myself more and more getting into it. It’s fun! There are some collectables dotted around the levels, the music is chirpy, and it’s nice and bright. But it’s not all positive. So, it is a bit basic. Not a huge deal-breaker. But, and this shouldn’t be, but annoyed me immensely, there is a problem with picking things up.

The first level has you collect and use multiple keys. Each one requires you to hold circle. Fine. Only, you need to hold it for about 4 seconds. For. Each. One. After a reasonably fast and exciting fight, to spend nearly 10 seconds holding a button to collect a key and then open a gate just saps away all momentum. A curious design choice.

Other complaints then; the stealth system is a bit janky and inconsistent, and the movement when traversing grapple points is also a bit awkward due to the camera but these are minor niggles. I think that if you had a young ‘un who might appreciate the mechanics of the Batman games and want a fun experience, I’d recommend this.

Reviewed on PS5

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