YOU might know Abubakar Salim for that raunchy silver suit in Raised By Wolves, or his emotional reveal at The Game Awards 2023.

Salim may be better known for his acting roles, but he has recently set up a game studio hoping to honour his father in a story about grief.

Kenzera shines by mixing the gameplay into the story's themes

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Kenzera shines by mixing the gameplay into the story’s themesCredit: Surgent Studios

Going into Tales of Kenzera: Zau, you might be concerned that a story about the death of a parent would be a downer to put things lightly.

Reminding players of the inevitability of losing a loved one can be hard, and it’s not as if Zau is devoid of unwanted emotions.

However, it doesn’t make you fell down, and instead helps you become more comfortable with the concept of death.

Tales of Kenzera: Zau is about those who are left behind when a loved one dies, and it addresses its themes through both metaphor and straightforward storytelling.

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Our protagonist Zau is suffering after the loss of his father and makes a deal with death to bring him back if he reclaims three other souls along the way.

As a shaman, Zau’s job is to heal, and when the world around him is crumbling, he’s the only person left to heal.

He’s not only dealing with the loss of his father but the loss of the world around him, and it’s a lot of pressure.

Like many people suffering from grief, Zau throws himself into the task in the hopes that he can fix things.

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He may live in a magical world full of spirits, but Zau tells a very personal and human story.

We see Zau help the others around him with their grief, while avoiding his own. He tries desperately to avoid what is inevitable.

With a heavy story, it would be easy to forgive lacklustre gameplay, but Zau adds a handful of great mechanics and builds on them well.

Most metroidvanias lock exploration skills in hidden corners around the map, but Zau gives you everything from the start and lets you go wild.

Your growth doesn’t come from unlocking new abilities but from becoming more skilled at the ones you have.

There are upgrades, but these only add layers to your already robust options.

Upgrading your skills is done through improving yourself, a mechanic that weaves excellently into the story.

Combat does get repetitive in the latter half. While there are plenty of enemy types, once you settle into the gameplay not much challenges you.

Even in these moments it’s hard to deny the beauty of Kenzera, and we never grew tired of the world or the story.

Tales of Kenzera: Zau breaks many of the conventions of your typical metroidvania by focusing on the story more than the exploration.

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But it’s a short experience that will hit you in the heart with a tale of love, loss, grief and acceptance.

If you want to read more about recent releases, check out our Stellar Blade review.

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This post first appeared on Thesun.co.uk

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