From Assassin to Creator: Abubakar Salim's Leap into Game Development with "Tales of Kenzara: Zau"
It's not every day that a prominent voice actor makes the leap from performance to heading a video game studio. However, Abubakar Salim, known for his lead role in "Assassin's Creed Origins," has taken on the thrilling challenge. Salim made waves at the 2023 Game Awards when he revealed "Tales of Kenzara: Zau," a unique Metroidvania brimming with personal significance. The project isn't just a foray into new territory for Salim; it's a deeply personal narrative inspired by Bantu folklore and his own experiences of loss.
As the protagonist of "Tales of Kenzara: Zau," players step into the role of Zau, a shaman on a crusade to retrieve his father's spirit in a story steeped in familial bonds and perseverance. The game's demo, a highlight at the latest Steam Next Fest, showcased a blend of traditional gameplay mechanics with the emotional weight of a personal journey. Combat is designed to be engaging yet inclusive, with various difficulty settings ensuring accessibility. Salim's passion project does more than entertain; it seeks to resonate with the player's own experiences of love and loss.
The game's artistry is another standout feature, with striking landscapes and vivid mythology. Fusing beauty and storytelling, Salim positions the game as both an eye-catching journey through the fictional land of Kenzara and an exploration of a son's self-sacrifice for his father. This emotional current is further enriched by Zau's relationship with the god of death, which upends traditional depictions in favor of a warmer, mentor-like presence. Through this lens, "Tales of Kenzara: Zau" becomes more than just a play; it becomes a narrative vessel, carrying players through a tale of courage and heart.
Transitioning from voice actor to studio head was a massive undertaking for Salim. Founding Surgent Studios was described in his own words as "terrifying," pointing to the steep learning curve and immense responsibility involved. Yet, despite the hurdles, Salim felt compelled to pursue this one chance to create something meaningful. His drive is not just to tell a story but to share a piece of his soul with an audience eager for content that transcends mere recreational activities, venturing into the realms of personal connection and artistic expression.
"Tales of Kenzara: Zau" extends a temporary invitation to players with its demo available until February 12, building anticipation for the game's full release on April 23. From voice actor to studio head, Abubakar Salim has crafted a platform to tell the stories closest to his heart, challenging industry norms and other creators along the way. It's a testament to the power of storytelling and the transformative journey of bringing impassioned ideas to life amidst a digital landscape hungry for authentic narratives.