Zanki Zero: Last Beginning‘s strangely picturesque apocalypse and oddball cast sent to their repeated ends feels fitting as a followup to teen murder mystery-fest Danganronpa. Confirmed for a PC launch on March 19th, Spike Chunsoft are putting their spin on Wizardry and The Legend Of Grimrock-style real-time labyrinth RPGs. Danganronpa 2 director Yakauki Sugawara and series producer Yoshinori Terasawa are at the helm, so expect death – its eight heroes are clones, dying of old age and needing to be respawned every thirteen days. The release date trailer is below.
I’m hopeful Spike Chunsoft can deliver another weird yet suspenseful story full of twists after the Danganronpa series. Dungeon RPGs have always had the threat of party members dying and needing replacement is a core element, but making it central to the story a clever move. After croaking (either of natural causes or damage), you take the little cross-shaped device from your fallen party member, insert it into a vending machine and have a fresh kid version of them pop out. Stats alter through their lifespan, so kids and old folks probably won’t be so great in a fight either.
There’s apparently some light survival elements to the game too, as if rapid ageing and apocalyptic monsters (and goats) weren’t bad enough. Your party need food and water to keep going, and also need to go to the toilet from time to time. There might also be something a little wrong with these clones, as – like some of the monsters they encounter – they can sprout flailing purple tentacles to attack with in some situations. Just about everything feels wrong here, even if the sun is shining and the flowers are blooming – Spike Chunsoft like their cheerful grimness, after all.
Why are there only eight people alive? Why are they nicknamed after the original and seven deadly sins? Why are there vending machines specifically to keep them alive? Why are there a pair of creepy 1960s manga-styled mascot characters on sepia-toned TV screens? There’s a bundle of mysteries set up already, and the only thing I’m worried about are some mixed reviews of the original Japanese release earlier this year. Fingers crossed for the PC version having any kinks worked out by then.