New Metroidvania Game Inspired by Afrofuturism and Bantu Culture


  • Tales of Kenzera: Zau combines Afrofuturism and Bantu mythology to explore themes of grief, aiming for a unique gaming experience.
  • Lead by Abubakar Salim of Assassin’s Creed fame, Surgent Studios brings emotional depth and vibrant visuals to the Metroidvania genre.
  • Inspired by Bantu culture, the game’s stunning visuals and mix of technology and nature set it apart from recent releases.

Tales Of Kenzera: Zau is an upcoming Metroidvania game that integrates the aesthetics of Afrofuturism and the culture surrounding Bantu mythology. The game aims to utilize the challenges posed by the Metroidvania format to explore themes of grief. Published by EA, Tales of Kenzera: Zau is expected to release on April 23 on PS5, Switch, Xbox Series X/S, and PC. In December 2023 at The Game Awards, Abubakar Salim, who gamers may recognize for voicing Bayek in Assassin’s Creed: Origins, unveiled that this game is being made by his company, Surgent Studios.

In Salim’s speech at The Game Awards, he discussed the grief that came with losing his own father, and how it inspired him to create Tales of Kenzera. The speech was an emotional way to showcase the studio’s debut project, grabbing the attention of gamers who resonated with Salim’s words on stage. Trailers feature clips of Zau, a shaman frustrated with the arduous process required to have a chance at reclaiming his father’s spirit. These trailers also show off gameplay with flashy visuals full of vibrant colors.


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The visual design of Tales Of Kenzera: Zau takes heavy inspiration from the Bantu culture throughout Central and Southern Africa. In part, this is an influence taken from Salim’s direct experiences in South Africa, where he interacted with tribal groups while filming the TV show Raised By Wolves. In an interview with DualShockers, Tales of Kenzera’s lead animator Griffin Warner and lead artist Ackeem Durrant talked about the game’s visual influences. Durant notes that some might consider the vibrancy in the art of a game exploring death and grief to be unexpected. Durant states that this is because, in contrast to western culture, Bantu culture uses color and brightness to express these emotions.

Tales of Kenzera: Zau Blends Afrofuturism with Bantu Culture

The game will take place over what is described as “a legacy period” and “an Afrofuture period,” with the art style striving to link these ideas together. In gameplay footage, Zau is shown fighting creatures like a dragon that bears a metallic faceplate, while, in other scenes, he is shown running across woodsy, forest-like environments. In some areas, there are puzzles that feature advanced technology, and other locations are caves and deserts that are completely natural. Warner cites Black Panther‘s ancestral plane as one of the team’s reference points, but adds that “it’s not something we wanted to get close to,” as though the two properties draw from similar points of inspiration, there are many features that make Zau distinct.

Fans of Metroidvania games may have noticed that Tales of Kenzera: Zau is not the only game presenting a colorful new take on the genre. Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown was released this January to a warm reception, and it presented a different spin on Prince of Persia with an aesthetic that pleasantly surprised fans who may have been apprehensive based on trailers. Tales of Kenzera has solid recent contemporaries, but with its own unique flares, it could forge its own path.




Original Release Date
November 12, 2020

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