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Zanki Zero: Last Beginning launches into a cycle of violent rebirth

Unlike other dungeon crawls, Zanki Zero: Last Beginning makes repeated death part of the regular adventuring experience. Out today, in this post-apocalyptic RPG from Spike Chunsoft and some of the Danganronpa creative crew, your party members are vat-grown, fast-ageing clones, doomed to die. Popped out of vending machines, your heroes start as children and will die of old age after just a few days, if the weird mutant monsters (or goats) don’t get them first. Below, a trailer breaking down some of the game’s stranger systems, like perks unlocked by finding new ways to die.

Similar in style to games like Dungeon Master and Legend Of Grimrock, Zanki Zero is a first-person, party-based dungeon crawl with real-time combat, but a few clever ideas of its own. Some enemies have locational damage points to disable attacks or earn extra loot. There’s some life sim elements in-between dungeon sorties too, including farming, cooking, and deciding who bunks up with who. It’s nothing explicitly adult, and seems played for laughs, but the English version has apparently excised a few potentially sketchy scenes involving the characters in their child forms.

While I’ve not had the chance to play this myself, I’ve heard that while it shares some darkly comic themes with the Danganronpa series, the story takes a back-seat to the dungeon crawling. There’s a dark mystery to be unravelled, explaining why these eight people are stuck on a mutant-infested island, cursed to live and die in an endless cycle. I’ve heard rumblings that it’s not as interesting a narrative as Danganronpa’s bizarro anime Sherlock nonsense. Still, some interesting concepts here and I’m still curious to see how it brings them together, if I can find time for just one more RPG.

Zanki Zero: Last Beginning is out now on Steam for the admittedly steep price of £45/€54/$54. You can see a little more of it, its systems characters on its official page here.

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Dominic Tarason

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