There were a bunch of surprise reveals during this year’s Game Awards, and that includes the debut of Tales of Kenzera: ZAU, a Metroidvania heading to Switch next year. While the Switch is no stranger to Metroidvanias, it’s quite likely the platform has never seen one that uses the genre’s trappings as an exploration of real-life grief.

Tales of Kenzera: ZAU dev Abubakar Salim knows that one of the most pivotal moments in his life comes from when his father lost the battle against cancer. That moment brought with it incredible sadness, but it also started Salim down the path to where he is today. In an interview with Polygon, Salim explains how Tales of Kenzera: ZAU uses the Metroidvania genre to explore grief, but in general and in his own life.

“You’re growing a character in the middle of nowhere, they have no idea where they’re going, where they are about. They’ve got a vague idea, but not really. And the longer the longer you spend in it, the more tools you unlock in order to kind of maneuver yourself around it. Sometimes you’ll stumble upon something that feels like a barrier that you can’t get through. It’s only until you go a bit further down the line, and then you’re like, Oh, that makes sense. I’m gonna come back there.”

[Abubakar Salim]

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