It’s Black History Month, y’all, which means it’s time to uplift anything and everything connected to the African diaspora. And whoa, would you look at that! Coinciding with the first day of this celebratory and historic month is a free Steam demo for Tales of Kenzera: Zau, a stunning side-scrolling Metroidvania that first garnered attention with its emotional reveal announcement during The Game Awards showcase in December 2023.
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Tales of Kenzera: Zau was unveiled by British actor Abubakar Salim, who voices Bayek in Assassin’s Creed Origins and Eros in Stray Gods. The game follows Zau, a young shaman who embarks on a perilous journey to resurrect his dad. It’s not that simple, though, as you’ll encounter all manner of fearsome creatures from winged beasts to shielded giants vying to put an end to you and your quest. It’s kinda giving Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown, but with a very distinct, Kenyan energy to it. Its December reveal made it clear that the game would launch on April 23, but it turns out we don’t have to wait until then to play it, thanks to a free demo out now on Steam.
What made Tales of Kenzera: Zau stand out amongst the crop of other stellar TGA announcements was Salim’s introductory speech. Salim, founder of Surgent Studios, the team working on the game, spoke frankly about his father. As Salim told it, his dad not only got him into games but also taught him that the medium is an art form, a “great space to enjoy and escape from the reality of the world.” Unfortunately, his father passed away some time ago, and as a way to process this grief and honor his dad, the Metroidvania before you was born. With that passion behind it, Tales of Kenzera: Zau is shaping up to be an emotional journey.
“I am extremely grateful and proud of the team of creatives that have helped craft Surgent Studios,” Salim said in a December 2023 press release, “and I’m beyond thrilled to have EA Originals give me the platform and space to share this story together with them.”
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If you’re looking to shed some tears, then I recommend giving Salim’s speech another watch. If you’re looking for another side-scrolling Metroidvania to fill your time now that Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown has been out for about two weeks, then check out Tales of Kenzera: Zau. The demo’s free. You can’t beat that.