“Make the games you wish to see on the Dreamcast.” The quote is placed dead center on the website for Arcane Kids, creators of the absurdist Sonic Dreams Collection. Their game Zineth lives up to this aspiration. It’s a wild trip with rail grinds, wall rides, and social media shenanigans. It’s this week’s Indie Pick.
Zineth is a student project from over five years ago but there’s no time limit on an Indie Pick. It drops players into a futuristic desert to skate around and generally cause mayhem. With fluid movement and an electric acid trip visual aesthetic, it’s a more honest and refined take on the stylish navigation games that inspired it. It paints the world with bold Jet Set Radio cel-shading and tosses in the over-energetic movement of Sonic Adventure and the wild mood of Crazy Taxi.
Arcane Kids have established themselves as purveyors of nightmarish reimaginings of long-standing video game franchises. This is often achieved through sudden shifts in expectation. Sonic Dreams Collection included a horribly twisted original character creator, a prom night orgy, and a simulation of a Netflix and chill situation with Sonic. Bubsy 3D featured a surreal visit to the L.A County Museum of Art. These games distort their source material to the point of absurdity. They are both celebration and dark rumination.
Zineth’s flourishes are far less sinister. Players are able to rewind time to undo poor movement, open up their in-game cell phone to play a mobile game while skating, and navigate an open world full of quests. It’s a maximalist approach to design that expands outwards and onwards to new frontiers. Zineth feels genuinely massive, and the expansive desert and high towers are a playground to romp and ride through with reckless abandon. It’s both a time capsule and a dance party that carries on the clumsy yet carefree sensibilities of some of the best games from previous generations.
You can play Zineth on PC and Mac. I highly recommend a controller.