Zorro The Chronicles Review
Zorro The Chronicles, developed by BKOM Studios, is a combat and exploration-based action game aimed at children. It’s also based on the animated series of the same name.
If you’re reading this as an adult with no kids, same as me, you might ask: wait, the animated show? I associate the masked legend of Zorro with the Antonio Banderas films from the early 2000s, and I hadn’t realized anything major had come to American audiences since.
Apparently, the TV show that Zorro The Chronicles is named after is popular enough to warrant a video game. It came out in 2016 and it was cancelled after one season, but hey, again, I’m a childless adult, so it’s fully possible there’s an adolescent Zorro cult following on the streets. I just don’t think it’s likely, and I’m skeptical there’s enough interest for this game in 2022.
All of this aside, I’m fond of the Zorro franchise, and the first level of the Zorro The Chronicles game had me smiling. The animation is cartoonish and charming, and the combat is simple but satisfying. Enemies go down with cheesy knockout finishes like pulling down enemies’ pants, knocking them into fountains, or carving a Z into their uniform before they fall down in disarray.
It’s s children’s game, but it doesn’t condescend to its players. The player can deface wanted posters around each level, but they take some exploration to find. There are also ‘bonus areas’ in each level that come with an optional objective like knocking three guards into a cactus or sneaking up on them for a stealth knockout.
In this way, it’s a less lethal Assassin’s Creed.
Almost all the story beats are contained in a short description before you start each mission. I think this is a baffling choice: some of the children playing Zorro The Chronicles may be too young to read that text. And for anyone not familiar with the show, it’s not enough context for the events of the game.
There’s a bad guy, and teenage Zorro is the good guy, but that’s all you get for character motivations. You can play as Diego or his twin sister Ines. While I loved playing as Ines, I have no idea who she’s supposed to be, and there’s no exploration.
I just didn’t have any reason to care about what was going on. There feels like an unspoken assumption that the Zorro franchise is enough of a backstory for anyone playing. That’s a very limiting approach for audience appeal, and it doesn’t include me.
A Messy Middle
Based on the first level, I was looking forward to the rest of the game. If my problems were only story-based, though, I’d be happy to let them go. Unfortunately, it had shown me almost everything good there was to see already.
What felt charming at first quickly became repetitive. I gave it some leeway at first – this is a kid’s game, after all. Zorro The Chronicles also has a leveling-up currency for progression, so it’s not like the game isn’t trying to keep things interesting. But even with the new moves introduced, the combat gets stale almost immediately.
I felt like I spent most of my time in the game fighting off 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, the stealth, combat, and wanted posters are everything Zorro The Chronicles has to offer.
Fickle and Frustrating
I also didn’t enjoy the optional objectives much. Oftentimes they’d require a very specific action – like the aforementioned knocking enemies into a cactus – with only a small number of guards to use to achieve that. Sometimes I’d have to stop a stealthy approach to try it, and I’d be aiming them towards a cactus only to defeat them directly next to it, losing out on both my stealth and the objective. Having to perfect such finicky feats with imperfect controls was consistently annoying, and I gave up on this aspect of the game.
This was not the only place in Zorro The Chronicles where the controls were finicky. The camera didn’t adjust with the combat, and sometimes I’d be looking at a hay bale or be aimed in the opposite direction of the enemies. I gave up on stealth because the stealth knockout button prompt felt inconsistent, and I was constantly full-on attacking enemies I had been fairly confident I was about to quietly knock out.
I got stuck in the environment more than once. This was immensely frustrating because the game only loads by checkpoints, and restarting them was always demoralizing. One time I was suddenly unable to move right before the end of the level, literally five feet from Zorro’s horse. I had to scoot in the horse’s direction by attacking over and over again until I got the button prompt.
A Disappointing Escapade
There are charming aspects to the game past its initial impression. I considered dropping it early on, but I’m glad I didn’t: some of the later settings are very picturesque, and there are funny moments throughout. While the missions followed a pattern, I could see an attempt at differentiating the levels.
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 show, the game is worth picking up, but if you’re a more general fan of the Zorro franchise, it’s worth waiting for another outing – Zorro always rides again.
**PS5 code was provided by the publisher**
- Cartoonish fun
- Good intro
- Limited appeal