Make one odd game and the gaming community will be surprised that something unique has been released. Make a number of them and that is what gamers come to expect and after games such as Killer7, No More Heroes, Shadows of the Damned and Lollipop Chainsaw hit store shelves, everyone is keeping an eye out on Grasshopper Manufacture’s latest game Killer is Dead. Now with XSEED Games bringing the game to store shelves, is Killer is Dead everything that gamers have come to expect from the mind of Suda51?
Killer is Dead takes place in a time where not only is travel to the moon available for many people, but demons and other creatures have also begun roaming the lands and lurking in human society. Thankfully, technological advancements have also given rise to cybernetic implants and body parts which not only make life easier for some, but also serve as useful killing weapons in the right hands.
Players take control of one such man who is named Mondo Zappa, a recent hire at an execution office that is supplied and funded by the government to be the first line of defense against various threats. Though along these lines, the company also takes in numerous requests for assistance from the public which always revolve around Mondo having to travel to a different location in the world and slicing his way through numerous ‘Wire’ enemies before reaching his target.
Sadly, thanks to the nature of these scattered missions, the overall story is left in quite a mess. Many of the characters that players are introduced to, such as Mondo’s co-workers, play minimal side-roles in cut-scenes despite having pasts and various elements of themselves that could easily have been explored, if the game were longer and less protagonist focused.
Thanks to the game’s focus on Mondo and his troubled past and internal issues as he makes his way through the various assassination missions which ultimately lead into a rather interesting storyline that, similar to Suda51 style, is quite crazy at times. The crazy nature of Killer is Dead’s story is weighed down however thanks to the scattered nature of the missions and untapped potential in the rest of the characters.
Outside of a certain side-mission, Killer is Dead is an action title with its gameplay focused almost entirely on Mondo’s combat abilities. Mondo’s primary weapon is his trusty sword while his cybernetic arm “Musselback” serves as a secondary weapon. Interestingly enough, Mondo’s sword is able to absorb blood and can be used to not only strengthen Mondo but also give him a slew of abilities to quickly overwhelm his foes.
At the beginning of the game, players are given only a rather basic set of skills and are left to simply slice and dice their opponents. The reason for this is due to the fact that the game takes its time to introduce the game’s combat system to players, although it doesn’t end up being too complex compared to some of the action titles on the market today.
Mondo can not only slice enemies with his sword, he can break opponents’ guards with his arm, block, dodge incoming attacks that, when performed correctly, lead to a powerful counter attack, “execute” basic enemies and eventually turn Musselback into numerous other weapons to aid his fight. Using Musselback’s secondary weapon makes use of a blood meter, limiting their usage in combat but not by much.
As players take out enemies, a gauge will keep track of your combo and if you manage to keep a relatively high combo meter when an enemy is weak there is a chance that you can “execute” them. Doing so gives players four options to execute the opponent, each one providing the player with a different item and giving players a chance to choose how they want to build Mondo as they make their way through the game’s missions.
Outside of the various boss battles and humanoid enemies you will face off against, the bulk of the enemies that Mondo faces down are called Wires which usually come in a rather basic vanilla form where they simply have to be taken out with standard attacks but thankfully their types are changed up occasionally with some Wires being armored or gigantic meaning that players have to change up their tactics to take them down.
While the player advances through the game’s storyline, there are numerous side-missions that are opened up. These side missions retread old ground but give players new enemies to face off against and a different goal. Also if the player happens to find Scarlett in a level, she will provide the player with a challenge mission that can also be played for extra cash and a chance to take her on a date of course.
Also unlocked through playing the game are various ‘Gigolo Missions’ which are the aforementioned “dates.” These dates involve Mondo going out with a woman as players play a mini-game of sorts. In Gigolo Missions players must stare at the girls’ breasts or thighs when they aren’t looking and look them in the eyes when they are. If you happen to be caught staring then you can restore the mood by simply looking away, but you can fail if you blow it.
These missions are rather easy to accomplish and are actually worth doing as they will reward the player with a new sub-weapon upgrade to Musselback. As for the content of the Gigolo Missions, nothing is actually shown once the player “seals the deal” and it is rather over-the-top and simplistic, giving those who enjoy that type of fan-service a chance to enjoy it while others can simply pass over these missions since they are not mandatory or deal with them as they are about as far from explicit as you can get unless you choose to make it that way.
Sometimes all you need is style and Killer is Dead has that in spades. With a cel-shaded theme, the game is absolutely gorgeous to look at despite being limited with some rough looking character models. Everything in the game, from the characters to the levels ooze with style and it all flows together well with fluid character animations and a flowing combat system.
Although the title has its fair share of repetitive corridors, almost every level that players venture through in Killer is Dead is set in a unique location with some rather off-the-wall themes for most of the levels. The enemies themselves tend to feel a bit repetitive but thankfully the game makes up for this repetition with some of the best looking boss designs that you’ll find in recent memories. Thanks to the visual style of the series, there are many eccentric and haunting looking creatures to face off against.
With Killer is Dead both the original Japanese voice track and the newly dubbed English dub are available for players to choose from right at the main menu and for the most part each track works rather well. The English cast fit the characters well, though Mika’s voice actress seems a bit too young sounding for a girl meant to be past her teens.
As for the game’s soundtrack, it is rather standard for an action game with only a few noteworthy set-pieces for various battles and nothing else, meaning it is easy to forget about the music as you slice your way through enemies.
While far from complicated, the combat works well and there is a decent amount of content on display here since while the game only around seven or eight hours, challenges can be completed numerous times, there are a handful of unlockables available and levels can be played through on harder difficulties if you so choose. Killer is Dead features all of the quirks that one would expect from a Suda51 title with an interesting setting, gorgeous visuals and a decent cast of characters that set it apart from other titles, however the storyline is rather simplistic and disjointed thanks to the way the missions are setup.
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