Uncover the Eldritch abomination and head into the horrific depths of our Zapling Bygone review.
Have you ever wanted to be an alien hivemind that sucks out brains and grows into a consciousness of multiple quirky personalities? I sure have! In the wake of waiting for Hollow Knight: Silksong (we all suffer together my friends), does Zapling Bygone have enough vania in its metroid to tide you over?
Free lobotomies, anyone?
Zapling Bygone is a Metroidvania where you play as an alien that when you kill an enemy, you gain their abilities through their skulls, and gain access to their thoughts. *cue death metal music* You start off as a little amorphous blob, quickly growing in power as you suck out the life of your enemies.
The game even features Donald Trump’s skull.
Published by JanduSoft in August of 2022, and made by a one-man band developer. They were specifically inspired by the movement in Hollow Knight, and the project started from there. If you want to know a bit more about the creator’s journey with the game, please have a squiz at this post from Zapling Bygone’s developer. It’s very insightful, and mentions all too real struggles with depression.
Zapling Bygone Review – Plot
This game is fairly short (first playthrough should be around 6 to 8 hours), and light on plot. The quick rundown is that Zap, the being that you play as, gets infected by a parasite that, like a bat out of hell, is deadset on doing some universe destroying shenanigans. You try to escape to a distant planet, but that planet is, uh, also infected by Mr. Cosmos Destroyer over here, so you just have to suck it up like a good higher conscious being and fight said parasite.
The dialogue between the various personas you accrue in your hive mind can be entertaining, watching them ping-pong off one another was eerily cute (in a creepy, steal your soul kinda way).
Zapling Bygone Review – Gameplay
Zapling Bygone offers typical metroidvania fare, blending exploration with platforming and combat. Progressing will allow you to gain powers like double jumps, (pew pew) lasers, node swinging (felt like George of the Jungle), wall dashes from enemies that you kill to be able to proceed to the next area. Trinkets are available to collect around the levels that you can handily slot into your skull(s).
Can’t we just let Bygones be Bygones?
Make no mistake, this is a hair splittingly difficult game. As a relative newcomer to the genre, I struggled terribly in the beginning. Zapling Bygone requires you to have to stay on your toes if you want to make it to the next area alive. Being pounded by projectiles/things-that-want-to-hurt-me slinging across the screen, I frequently got lost, or confused about how to get past an obstacle. So I had a fair amount of about-facing to do to try and figure out what the game wanted me to do. The difficulty level might be too much for gamers new to the genre, so pick your poison. I did and enjoyed all it’s gooeyness.
It just wouldn’t be a Metroidvania without a labyrinthine map.
A cool, themed quirk is that the map of an area isn’t revealed to the player unless you kill the boss of that level. You don’t gain the map information till you sucky suck every ounce of life from the body of your foes. How morbid.
Zapling Bygone Review – Presentation
The game uses a pixelated art style, as in common in the metroidvania genre. Thankfully, it’s detailed enough to get across the ick-factor! Considering that this was made by a solo developer, it’s impressive how well it runs. The ghostly screams and squelching sounds also up the space horror ante.
Zapling Bygone is a fun little game you can finish quickly, a bite-size elderitch horror nightmare! The premise alone is funny enough to keep you morbidly entertained, and the gameplay is intense enough to get those fingers mashing. If you’re hungering for Hollow Knight: Silksong, Zapling Bygone might be just the appetiser you need to whet your palate.
So, why should you play Zapling Bygone?
- Looking for a short Metroidvania with a novel premise, and tight controls
- You like your space eldritch abominations
- Enjoy games with a disturbing or intentionally gross aesthetic
But why shouldn’t you play Zapling Bygone?
- Prefer games with a longer playtime, or with a more meaty plot
A review code on Nintendo Switch was kindly provided by the publisher for our Zapling Bygone review. If you enjoy Metroidvanias, be sure to check out more of our Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights review and join the Qualbert Discord to chat with us about some of your favourites!