Computer Dungeon Slash: ZZT 2.0
Procedural generation is not new to ZZT, but most procedural generation efforts have struggled to produce enjoyable gameplay. In CD:/ KKairos bucks this trend and demonstrates that beyond delivering a fleeting "WOW!" moment, procedural generation can be the foundation of a fun, well-rounded ZZT game.
Procedural generation in ZZT can quickly grow tedious and repetitive, but CD:/ has several important features that keep it fresh and interesting. First and perhaps most importantly, CD:/ happens in an interesting world that unfolds as the player progresses through the game. There is a simple yet compelling story, with mysteries and secrets for the player to discover. The town of Habeas Corpus has been swallowed by the adjacent dungeon (yes, the entire town, buildings and all)! It's up to you to restore the town, rescue its citizens, and uncover the secret behind its strange disappearance. The town becomes more populated as you rescue citizens lost in the dungeon, which gives lore drops and more gameplay options. There is real progress to be made! Discovering new characters is also fun in its own right because the quirky citizens are often good for a laugh.
CD:/ also keeps things interesting by mixing things up. Rather than sending the player through a single room over and over again, Each level in CD:/ is unique in either layout or gameplay. Some levels use default enemies, and others use objects. Environments vary widely, from dank caves to hedge mazes, creepy crawlspaces to old attics. At the end of each level there is a unique boss fight, many of which are challenging and showcase some of the best AI I've seen since Evilstania. Some levels have secret areas that can only be accessed later on. With this variation, KKairos is able to use the same set of tricks over and over again without the gameplay getting stale.
CD:/ also excels because on top of everything, it is an extremely polished game with lots of attention to detail. KKairos eschews the temptation to rest on the laurels of technical complexity, and offers a rich and coherent aesthetic experience. CD:/ will undoubtedly be remembered for its procedural generation, but it is its easily overlooked details--the art, the music, the sound effects, the animation--that make CD:/ not just impressive, but GOOD. It is, frankly, one of the best ZZT action games you'll find.
It's worth noting that CD:/ was made before KKairos joined that unfortunate company, Mean Girls Games. I don't trust those guys. Shifty happenings going on over there, as we are all aware. But that's neither here nor there. Play CD:/. It's fantastic.
Reviewed: Mar 21, 2023
Rating: out of 5.0 This user has opted out of providing a numeric rating