Zorro The Chronicles Review
Zorro The Chronicles, developed by BKOM Studios, is an action game based on combat and exploration aimed at children. It is also based on the anime series of the same name.
If you’re reading this as an adult without kids, like me, you might be wondering: wait, the animated series? I associate the masked legend of Zorro with the Antonio Banderas films of the early 2000s, and I hadn’t realized anything major had happened to American audiences since.
Apparently, the TV show that bears the name Zorro The Chronicles is popular enough to warrant a video game. It came out in 2016 and it got canceled after one season, but hey, again, I’m an adult with no kids, so it’s entirely possible that a teenage cult of Zorro is following in the streets. I just don’t think that’s likely, and I’m skeptical there will be enough interest in this game in 2022.
All that aside, I love the Zorro franchise, and the first level of Zorro The Chronicles game made me smile. The animation is cartoonish and charming, and the combat is simple but satisfying. Enemies drop with cheesy knockout finishes like pulling down enemies’ pants, knocking them into fountains, or carving a Z into their uniform before they fall into disarray.
It’s child’s play, but it’s not condescending to its players. The player can deface the wanted posters around each level, but it takes some exploring to find them. There are also “bonus areas” in each level that come with an optional objective like knocking down three guards into a cactus or sneaking up on it for a stealth knockout.
That way it’s a less lethal Assassin’s Creed.
Almost all story beats are contained in a short description before starting each mission. I think it’s a disconcerting choice: some of the children who play Zorro The Chronicles may be too young to read this text. And for those unfamiliar with the series, that’s not enough context for the events of the game.
There’s a bad guy, and the teenage Zorro is the good guy, but that’s all you get for the character’s motivations. You can play as Diego or his twin sister Ines. Although I loved playing the role of Ines, I have no idea who she’s supposed to be and there’s no exploration.
I just had no reason to care what was going on. There seems to be an unspoken assumption that the Zorro franchise is enough backstory for anyone who plays. It’s a very restrictive approach to audience appeal, and that doesn’t include me.
A messy environment
Based on the first level, I was looking forward to the rest of the game. If my issues were just story-based, I’d be happy to let them go. Unfortunately, he had already shown me almost everything worth seeing.
What seemed charming at first quickly became repetitive. I gave it some leeway at first – it’s child’s play, after all. Zorro The Chronicles also has an upgrade currency for progress, so it’s not like the game isn’t trying to keep things interesting. But even with the new moves introduced, combat becomes stale almost immediately.
I felt like I spent most of my time in the game fighting group after group of enemies with little variation or interest. Unlike Assassin’s Creed, which has story cutscenes and other things to do in its settings, stealth, combat, and wanted posters are all Zorro The Chronicles has to offer.
Inconstant and frustrating
I also didn’t like the optional lenses very much. Often they required a very specific action – like the enemies mentioned above in a cactus – with only a small number of guards to use to achieve this. Sometimes I had to stop a stealth approach to try it, and would direct them towards a cactus only to defeat them right next to it, losing both my stealth and the aim. Having to perfect such finicky feats with imperfect controls was always annoying, and I gave up on that aspect of the game.
This wasn’t the only place in Zorro The Chronicles where the controls were finicky. The camera was not adjusting in combat, and sometimes I was looking at a haystack or aiming in the opposite direction of enemies. I gave up on stealth because the stealth KO button prompt felt inconsistent, and I was constantly attacking enemies I had been pretty confident I was about to quietly knock out .
I got stuck in the environment more than once. This was extremely frustrating as the game only loaded through checkpoints, and restarting them was always demoralizing. Once I was suddenly unable to move just before the level ended, literally five feet from Zorro’s horse. I had to dash in the direction of the horse attacking over and over again until I got the button prompt.
A disappointing getaway
There are charming aspects to the game beyond its initial impression. I considered dropping it early on, but I’m glad I didn’t: some of the later settings are very scenic, and there are some funny moments throughout. As the missions followed a pattern, I could see an attempt at level differentiation.
I wish this game felt better to play; I wanted it to succeed. Unfortunately, there aren’t many people I can recommend Zorro The Chronicles to. If your child is a fan of the series, the game is worth picking up, but if you’re a more general fan of the Zorro franchise, it’s worth waiting for another release – Zorro always rises again.
**PC code was provided by the publisher**
- Cartoonish fun
- Good intro
- Without context
- Limited call