Slave Zero X review

Slave Zero X review

A stylish throwback to the classic hack ‘n slash era — with a lot of challenge thrown in for good measure

Zach explains why this 2.5D action platformer demands a lot of us (in a good way).

Slave Zero X is crazy. Poppy Work’s latest is a sequel to 1999’s original Slave Zero, and drops a PS1 aesthetic onto a wild mix of an arcade-fighting-side scrolling type thing.


The game expects us to know everything that our character has in their skillset to be able to win (or even survive) and that includes using parries, a huge amount of attacks, combos and EX moves. It’s demanding and designed for the kind of person who really loves intense fights that require precision battles.

It’s essentially presented as a long, narrative series of fights as the lead, Zhou, heads to a pinnacle. It’s a constant rush of bosses and enemies with even the weakest requiring combos and moves strung together like classic 2D fighting games. Some of the moves need to be utilized a lot, like using the burst to cancel one attack to go into another or the EX moves to get into even more powerful ones. It feels like a 2-frame level of animation tracking that fighting game players will feel comfortable with.

Slave Zero X is a niche type of game that is made for speed runners and those who like challenging arcade experiences. The great aesthetic alone is enough to get players to check it out, and it may take a little acceptance of sadomasochism to fully grasp what the game is capable of.

This review is based on a Steam code sent to SideQuesting by the publisher. It originally appeared on The SideQuest Live for February 20, 2024. All images and video courtesy Poppy Works and Ziggarut Interactive.