Zet Zillions PC Preview: An Astoundingly Unique Deckbuilder
Zet Zillions is the next game by indie developer OTA IMON Studios, and it absolutely kicks ass. Typically, I’d find a more professional way of heaping praise onto this expertly crafted work of art, but I feel “kicks ass” is appropriate. It’s not just because of the unbridled passion I feel for this game, one I can only imagine will transform into a dogmatic fervor that sees me screaming its name from the rooftops, much like how I found myself entranced by their last game, Wolfstride, but also for its overall sense of style and attitude.
This is a bold game, from its manga-inspired art style that vibrantly pops on screen, beckoning you deeper into its twisted world of warring planets, to its eclectic cast of characters that are as inspired and undeniably charming as the game’s soundtrack, which itself invokes an intense headbanging session the likes of which I haven’t enjoyed since my teens. If this intro hasn’t done enough to convince you, it is fair to say that I’m excited about Zet Zillions’ future and what OTA IMON Studios has in store for us.
“I got an excellent first impression as the instantly gratifying and engrossing world-building coupled with the ever-endearing yet wholly badass cast drew me in.”
Zet Zillions is a roguelike deckbuilder that sees you take on the role of the Commander, the leader of a rag-tag team of strange and wonderful people that pilot a planet. Your job is to escape the encroaching Thanatos, a mysterious entity hellbent on destroying you all while engaging in space opera-esque shenanigans. There is an underlying sense of brevity to Zet Zillions, both narratively and mechanically, one that encapsulates the core tenets of a snappy deckbuilder and delivers an engrossing single-player campaign filled with the zany existential antics OTA IMON Studios are so phenomenal at crafting.
It’s important to note that what I got to experience was a playtest build, one that didn’t quite contain all of the fully-fledged features and story beats expected in the full game. Naturally, this means core aspects, including the game’s ending, are completely absent. Nevertheless, I got an excellent first impression as the instantly gratifying and engaging world-building coupled with the ever-endearing yet wholly badass cast, specifically Foam Gun, whose sheer captivating presence is enough to make her one of gaming’s most iconic characters in my eyes, drew me in.
OTA IMON Studios has iterated on its narrative formula so meticulously crafted in Wolfstride, adapting it to fit the vibrant psychedelic space setting and genre shift. Carried over are clever cameos, references, and general vibes that never feel overly indulgent, the pithy and meaningful dialogue, and a deep-rooted love of calling absolutely everyone and thing “trash.” However, Zet Zillions is very much its own thing, using the narrative formula explored in Wolfstride to craft a unique world teeming with intriguing ideas and one I cannot wait to explore further.
“Zet Zillions’ combat system never gets old and is bolstered by phenomenal art direction that benefits both the cards you use and the unique enemy designs you encounter.”
Of course, what makes Zet Zillions truly shine is its immediately engrossing deckbuilding gameplay that’s brimming with creative complexity. There’s a captivating sense of immediacy to Zet Zillion’s gameplay, owing largely to the snappy animations, short turn times, and easy-to-grasp yet hard-to-master level of strategy. The action unfolds at an explosive tempo, offering a satisfyingly rewarding gameplay loop that can be enjoyed in both short and long play sessions. It’s miraculous how simple yet engaging the game’s onboarding process is, especially given its unique spin on the genre, ensuring newcomers and veterans waste little time in a tutorial. Impressive still is Zet Zillion’s ability to keep you playing for so long and yet feel as if no time has passed at all.
As you venture deeper into space, you’ll need to take down various planets and enemies, and you can do this in one of two ways. In some instances, populating a planet with your synthetic humanoid Trash can colonize it, reaping you a lot of rewards. Alternatively, you can fight your way through each encounter, using your various cards to damage enemies, buff yourself, or even kill the Trash you sent to colonize a planet, damaging it from the inside. It’s a combat system that never gets old, one bolstered by phenomenal art direction that benefits both the cards you use and the unique enemy designs that encapsulate the very best and weird aspects of anime like Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo and Space Dandy.
“Much of it plays into this sense of wonder and possibility, a feeling that never disappears across its potentially dozens if not hundreds of hours of gameplay.”
Unsurprisingly, OTA IMON Studios has meticulously balanced the lightning-fast speed of battles with a deep layer of strategy, one that requires you to contemplate not only the cards you use each turn but also those you accept as rewards for winning each battle. In the playtest, there was already a compelling variety of cards on offer, each one showcasing the varied strategies at your disposal and encouraging a unique playstyle and build with every playthrough.
There are even cards that have no effect, forcing you to wonder what they’ll do when fused with others and weighing up their intriguing potential over picking a safer bet. Much of Zet Zillions plays into this sense of wonder and possibility, a feeling that never disappears across its potentially dozens if not hundreds of hours of gameplay.
“Zet Zillions is quickly becoming one of my most anticipated games of the year.”
There is so much more that I could say about Zet Zillions. There is the exhilaratingly upbeat soundtrack that kicks in at just the right moment, making every encounter feel all the more climactic. You also have a compelling overworld system with randomized events, bounties, planets to colonize, and more, all of which further expand upon the game’s central loop of discovery and mystery. There’s even an egg card that you can level up to hatch and grow into a truly formidable fighting force.
All of this is to say that Zet Zillions unequivocally kicks ass. It is quickly becoming one of my most anticipated games of the year, not only because of its enviable sense of style but also because of the clear, unabashed passion that has gone into creating it. Every inch of Zet Zillions is imbued with an overwhelming amount of quality, detail, and love that, in turn, makes you immerse yourself unquestioningly into its colorful universe. It is a constant reminder of why I love indie games and, perhaps more importantly, why protagonists with shark teeth are undeniably the coolest.
Zet Zillions is coming to Steam in 2024. You can wishlist it to make sure you’re notified of any future updates. Additionally, you can check out our Guide Hub for more indie game-related articles.