Zero Zero Zero Zero Review

If you’ve ever played a game published by Ratalaika Games, you kind of know what you’re getting. Typically, it’s an easy 1000 gamerscore with a low price barrier. Sometimes, extremely easy. For me, a Ratalaika game and the almost guaranteed full 1000 offsets other games that I invest a lot of time into but that pays out relatively low gamerscore. For example, Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey and it’s DLC set me back almost 400 hours but only earned me 1850G. So, why the long lead-in? I guess it’s because I was eager to compensate for my low PPH (points-per-hour) eked out with AC:O with the high PPH that Zero Zero Zero Zero would offer.  

When asked why the game is named Zero Zero Zero Zero, developer Alvaro said it was because when he started coding it, that was his bank account balance. Hopefully that’s no longer the case, as the game has been ported to every current platform out there, including the Vita. For the purposes of not having to type Zero a thousand times during this review, I’m going to abbreviate the game’s title to 0000

So, as I mentioned earlier, I was happy to review a game published by Ratalaika. Even though 0000 is a platformer (a low-rez, minimalist, black & white 1-bit platformer) and I am terrible at that type of game, it didn’t matter because I didn’t intend to spend a lot of time getting my points before moving on. 

I’m happy to report that I was pleasantly surprised at how well the game played, looked, and entertained during my time with it. I was challenged and still haven’t earned the last achievement, which is to beat 34 levels. The levels don’t seem difficult though, which kept me happily chugging away at a game I was pretty sure wouldn’t keep my attention for long. That’s the thing, the magic of a good game, especially one that seems easy but keeps the interest revved even while it punishes. A good game doesn’t let you forget it, it allows you to think that success is right there, at the tips of your fingers.

Luckily, the low system resources keep the game on pace. I do think that if I had time to lament how crappy I was doing after a level I would have given up. 0000 smacked me down and immediately gave me a new level to try. Oftentimes it was a level I’d tried before and one that I almost beat, so there was motivation to learn from my last go-around and every retry I thought to myself, “I’m going to do it this time.” 

One thing that did annoy was the stat tracking on the last achievement, both in game and in the achievements tab on the Xbox. 0000 didn’t give a progress indicator, and the achievement tracker kept the number of levels beaten at 0%. There were times when I finally beat a level and wholly expected that achievement to pop, but it didn’t. Even now, I’m uncertain how many levels I need to finally get that last one. I suppose many would argue that now knowing when and the striving towards it will make finally getting it so much sweeter, and maybe they’re right. I just know that it’s bugging me right now that I’m not back in the game trying to get it done, but that I’m sitting here writing this review for you instead.

Conclusion

Zero Zero Zero Zero isn’t a typical Ratalaika game – it’s deceptively more challenging and rewarding than the usual fare that they publish. Don’t overlook 0000 based on it’s minimalist presentation and spartan effects because the lack of distractions allow for better focus on the game’s solid platforming. The tight controls and the lag-free timing enable precision jumps, but even failing a level (which is always due to the avatar’s death) isn’t a big deal because a new level pops up immediately, keeping the action going. 

This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by the publisher.
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Good
  • Easy to learn, hard to master
  • Minimal graphics, sounds, and controls keeps the focus on the precision platforming
  • No pause in the action keeps things moving. Easily evokes that “just one more level” sense of enticement
  • Correct balance of challenge vs frustration - toes the line on the side of fun and challenging without inducing rage quit
Bad
  • The basic and minimal aesthetics carries over to the stat keeping, meaning there aren’t any. For achievement hunters, getting that last, hardest achievement to pop will aggravate
7.8
Good
Gameplay - 8
Graphics - 8
Audio - 7.5
Longevity - 7.5
Written by
I was gaming way before it was cool or accepted, when games were sold in ziplock bags and gaming clues required a letter and a SASE to the actual developer. I’m not saying that like it’s a credential or an odd badge of honor, but as a statement that video games can be fun and engaging independent of graphics, the number of player choices allowed, or game mechanics. I felt the same sense of joy and exhilaration with text-based games of yore as I do playing the most advanced games of today.

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