This Let's Play of Enemy Zero Showcases the Magic and Madness of Kenji Eno

This Let's Play of Enemy Zero Showcases the Magic and Madness of Kenji Eno

Revisit one the strangest survival horror games from one of the industry's most enigmatic minds.

As a longtime follower of the format, I've witnessed plenty of people unfairly poo-poo the act of viewing Let's Plays and streams. "Why watch when you can play?" Heck, even South Park felt the need to chime in. (Though it didn't have much to say outside of "This is what the kids do now, I guess.")

Now, I'm not about to get a PewDiePie tattoo on my forehead anytime soon, but watching other people play video games definitely serves a valuable function in my life. That whole "mortality" deal means I'll never get to experience everything I want to play, and frankly, some games have aged so poorly it's not worth struggling through to the end. I've actually experienced many survival horror games via the Let's Play format, and, contrary to popular belief, not all of these videos feature teenagers blowing out their headsets feigning unbridled, pants-shitting terror at the appearance of Slenderman.

One of my favorite Let's Players from recent years has been supergreatfriend, whose laid-back personality rarely gets in the way of the games he's playing. And it's been incredibly difficult to pull myself away from his recent guided tour of Enemy Zero, a survival horror experience by the late, great video game weirdo Kenji Eno. This 1997 Sega Saturn game mixes point-and-click adventure mechanics with spooky first-person exploration set against the twisted bowels of a spaceship. That premise may sound like the makings of a pretty good game, but it's the main gimmick of Enemy Zero that's kept me far away from ever playing it myself. As indicated by the title, the enemies themselves are invisible; you track them via tension-heightening beeps of your radar, and can only destroy them with a charged shot at point blank range. Oh yeah, and said invisible enemies can kill you in one hit.

Whoops, I also forgot to mention that both saving and loading depletes an in-game battery with limited uses. Yeah, there's a reason I leave the playing of Enemy Zero to people with far more patience.

I'm not one to disparage the dead, but I can't pretend that any of the games within Kenji Eno's D trilogy—which includes Enemy Zero—were actually all that good. They're the products of someone more interested in technology than storytelling, which explains why protagonist Laura (who stars as different characters throughout all three games) can only communicate with grunts and gasps, and also why Enemy Zero's story is a flagrant rip-off of Alien, though it doubles down on that movie's twist. Still, I can't deny that Eno created a handful of games that are at least fun to watch, even if it's in the "so bad it's good" sense that reminds me of my favorite cheesy movies. Enemy Zero is much closer to Birdemic and The Room than the Sharknados of the world in that it's a sincere labor of love that didn't really come together as intended—to put it euphemistically.

So, if you've got nothing better to do, sit back, relax, and let the compelling awkwardness over Enemy Zero overtake you. Just be glad it's someone else who's at the controls.

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