On the occasion of the game awards ceremony, Electronic Arts revealed Tales of Kenzira: Zao. A new game that we owe to Abu Bakr Slim… Pike’s voice in it Assassin’s Creed Origins.
Hearing him speak in his impeccable London English, we immediately recognize the voice of Pike, the film’s hero.Assassin’s Creed Origins. But Abu Bakr Slim is not here to tell us about the Muslim Brotherhood or the one he played for several years. Or rather, yes, he mentions that. Explaining how to lend his voice to a video game made him, a fan since the beginning, want to create his own game and bring his studio to life.
Four years of work were rewarded at the Game Awards on Thursday night, when the trailer for Tales of Kenzira: Zao It appeared on the screens of millions of online viewers. The game created by Surgent Studios is the new title published by EA Originals and was presented for the first time during the prestigious ceremony.
Mourning is at stake to heal your pain
Tales of Kenzira: Zao It tells the story of a young man who must mourn his father and follow his memory. “It seemed natural to me to play video games to tell this story about grief and the pain of loss. This is what I went through when my father died,” Abu Bakr Salem explains to Tech&Co. “It’s an introductory game about mourning.”
So, Electronic Arts went to discover this little visual and narrative pearl around 2020 and helped it grow, seduced by the proposal of a young English actor who had no experience in video games, but who had real belief in his project.
“I grew up playing video games and fell in love with telling stories through games. I always say I became an actor because of games,” smiles the man who has been seen in several British series. “Because you control the character and go on a journey with him. He’s going to have ups and downs. When I was a kid, that resonated with me and connected me to something different.”
Mysticism, magic, and metroidvania
To talk about his grief, the thirty-year-old created Surgent Studios to bring his story to life and share it. “I hesitated for a long time about going to other studios to pitch my story before I told myself I had to do it myself,” says Abu Salim. “But I was afraid it wouldn’t be told the way it should be, or chopped up or changed. That’s the risk when you entrust your project to someone else. They’ll make their own interpretation of it.”
Kenzira Tales The film’s events revolve around a boy trying to grieve. He keeps a book written by his father that tells the story of Zao, a boy from Kinzira who wants to negotiate with the god of death to bring back his dead father and become a nganga, a spiritual healer.
Two parallel lives that resemble each other and respond to each other with their own disturbances, a good dose of shamanic magic and mythology. The title presents itself as a platform game full of action and adventure, in the type of Metroidvania 2.5D, with a very strong graphic style and a sound environment that seems important, with a strong identity, a hint of mysticism and battles where time must be manipulated.
Greetings to Kenya from her parents
It must be said that Abu Salim, although born and raised in England, also wanted to pay tribute to his parents’ Kenyan roots with many cultural references to his origins. The game will also be available in Swahili, his parents’ native language. “I put a lot of myself and my story into this game, and into their story as well, as do all the developers involved in it,” he insists. “I have the impression that for the message to be universal and resonate with as many people as possible, we had to listen and listen to people, and give ourselves the necessary space.”
The game plays on the emotions experienced by the hero and the protagonist of his book: anger, relief, happiness, sadness, or even confusion. Therefore, the player will resort to the cosmic powers of the moon or sun mask depending on his opponent and his condition. “This game is very personal and it’s very scary and exciting to share it with players,” admits the game’s creator. Playing a game to treat pain is the best therapy for him.
Tales of Kenzera: Zau will be available on April 23, 2024 on Xbox Series, PS5, Nintendo Switch, and PC.