Clash: Artefacts of Chaos is a third-person brawling game which bears more than a similarity to Dark Souls-type games.
You play as Pseudo – a reclusive individual who one day sees an old man die in a fight, leaving alone his grandson. This lad can heal others, but when a baddie tries to steal these powers, you as Pseudo embarks on a quest with the boy to get some proper help and care from his long-lost brother. And so you go on a quest not that dissimilar to God of War…
But Kratos you are not. There is a dialogue on the way, but none of it is super endearing although it doesn’t do a bad job. This is a mechanism to allow Pseudo a right to beat up people all over the place. And I say people, but I mean a whole load of odd-looking animals, none too good to avoid a thrashing.
The fighting sadly does become a bit of a grind. With a version of boss fights, the big ones begin with a large ‘Versus’ across the screen, which gives them some hype but nearly all of them involve you being outnumbered, which delivers the difficulty. Thankfully, before each fight, you have a mini-game to play which is called The Ritual. This is a dice game essentially which is pretty fun, and you can enhance your odds but swapping and buying tokens at traders who multiply the values of dice. If you win, you get to deploy your Artefact in the fight (the tilted ones of Chaos) giving you an advantage in some fashion.
The fights can play out in different ways due to different abilities you have and can upgrade, but sometimes smaller arenas cause the camera to have a spasm, and it can go to pot a bit. Thankfully, if you survive you’ll find a bonfire (known as a campsite) which serves the same purpose as they do in the Souls games. Restore health, sleep, craft items etc. In a nice twist, you can turn the world to nighttime, which transforms Pseudo into a stick man and lets him travel without the kid.
Nighttime has tougher opponents and lets you access hidden caches from the daytime, as well as fight mini-bosses. Die in the day, and you’ll have to recover your body at nighttime (again, in a similar mechanic to the Souls games).
Sadly, the camera issues in fighting translate to world exploration in general, with pathways hard to see, either through bad visibility or bad graphics (sometimes both) but generally it’s not an awful-looking game to see – in fact, during the fighting the presentation is fantastic and it shines. Because the game is essentially just a series of fights, the world navigation doesn’t matter too much but it feels like padding on the game outside of what is just really repeated combat.
Special mention needs to be given to the soundtrack which is an incredible mix of chanting monk-style choir tracks and orchestral sounds. It’s one of those that I could see myself listening to outside of the game, so hoping it appears on Spotify soon. Still, despite the repetition, I think there’s something here for fans of beat ‘em ups as long as you’re prepared for a bit of a grind.
Reviewed on PS5