Tales of Kenzera: A Poignant Journey Through Grief and Identity


Tales of Kenzera is not just your typical Metroidvania game. The game explores sensitive topics like grieving for a lost loved one. The game’s narrative is revolving around Bantu mythology which highlights personal story about loss, acceptance and family bonds.

Tales of Kenzera is developed by Surgent Studios and published by electronic arts on 23rd April 2024. Within few days the game received a lot of positive reviews from players.

A World Steeped in Beauty and Tragedy

“Discover a universe inspired by Bantu tales, rich with untold lore of chaos and order, memories of ancient shamans, sacred spirits and fascinating creatures. Journey through mystical 2.5D realms awash with color and depth, emboldened by multi-award-winning composer Nainita Desai’s enchanting original score.”

The world of Kenzera is a visual delight. Your screen will be bombarded with luscious jungles while the sun will embrace the savannas that stretches towards the horizon. However, the premise of the story still radiates sorrow and acceptance. The world of Kenzera will fuel you to power through every run due to the vibrant colors. The bright color radiates a strong traditional African theme. Moreover, the world is enhanced by Nainita Desai’s music composition that blends traditional African music with modern synthwave.

A Son’s Quest: Bargaining with Death

You step into the shoes of Zau who is burdened by grief of losing his father. Zau’s dad was a renowned spiritual healer or also known as Nganga of their village. After his passing Zau has a void inside him and he is getting consumed by despair.

“A grieving boy begins to read a Bantu tale written by his late father. Adventure into the beautiful and treacherous lands of Kenzera as Zau, a young shaman who bargains with the God of death to bring his Baba back from darkness.”

The story begins when Zau explores Kenzera. He is burdened by the duties to fulfill his father’s legacy. However, Zau is always questioning himself with self-doubt about his duty. The villagers paint a picture of a loving father-son relationship.

“Embark on a poignant single-player story shaped by actor Abubakar Salim’s own experience with grief, discovering how love gives us the courage to press on after devastating loss. As Zau, you must face your own emotions to become a worthy Nganga: a spiritual healer.”

Gameplay: Familiarity with a Flourish

The game mechanics resembles the old school Metroidvania mechanics. The worlds gradually expands as you unlock new skills and abilities. You can access the high ledges by getting the double jump skills. Moreover, you can also easily navigate the vertical sections by getting wall jump.

The combat system is also quite simple and nothing extraordinary is added. You need to master the basic moves like attack, dodge and parry. Also, you need to strategically time your counter attacks to optimize your combat skills.

Apart from hand-to-hand combat Zau also has cosmic powers and untried courage. Zau wields cosmic power from the sun and moon to face the 3 might beings.

“Wield cosmic powers from the Sun and the Moon to defeat restless spirits in rhythmic combat, from ordinary warriors to the mighty Impundulu or GaGorib. Manipulate time and crystallize enemies using the power of the Moon mask or launch fiery spears with the Sun Mask, all in meticulously hand-crafted animations.”

Apart from these old school combat mechanisms there are also puzzle solving elements. There are several puzzles that Zau needs to solve with his cosmic abilities. Sometimes, backtracking is necessary once you unlock new abilities. The world design is intuitive and it gives you room for exploration without getting bored.

A Touching Tribute and a Glimpse of Hope

One of the most highlighting part of Tales of Kenzera is cultural touchstone. The game is heavily inspired by Banty mythology so developers tried to sprinkle many references. They tried to implement the concept of spirit world Kalunga and the reverence for ancestors.

Moreover, the story will easily touch your heart as you take on Zau’s journey. You will learn about grief, loss and acceptance. At the same time, you will understand the burden of questioning your abilities. As you progress in the game you will notice Zau is becoming for confident and he is learning to heal from the loss.


The game itself is a short experience as it will only take 8-10 hours to complete. However, even if its short the experience is worthwhile. If you are looking for a game with bittersweet narrative with strong emotional impact then give Tales of Kenzera a try.

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