Killer is Dead Review
Suda51 brings us more of the unexpected.
Suda51 has a history of bringing us creative and bizarre titles to the gaming industry that range from Clock Tower and Fatal Frame 4 to the more modern Shadows of the Damned and Lollipop Chainsaw. He always brings a level of weirdness that you either love or hate, but one thing is certain, no one can deny the originality of his concepts. Killer is Dead is no different.
In Killer is Dead you play as Mondo Zappa, an assassin of sorts, who works for the Bryan Execution Firm where his duties entail traversing the globe executing fellow assassins and other criminals of varying degrees. The firm is run by a cyborg, Bryan Roses, who totally reminds me of a futuristic, cybernetic version of Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson’s character from Pulp Fiction), as he assigns hits to Mondo and makes small talk in and around the office.
The main menu of the game revolves around an interactive version of the office. From there the player can select missions, or Episodes as they are called in game, via a computer-generated globe that has points located on it displaying the episode name and its details. It’s a great concept and avoids the mundane menus you find in most games but at the same time left me a little annoyed. One of the early missions has St. Johns, Newfoundland in Canada highlighted but the details have; Eastern Coast United States listed as its location. As a Canadian, and a Canadian born in Newfoundland, a little more attention to detail would have been appreciated, and it got me wondering to how many other geographical errors may be possibly located on the world map?
Also from the office, players can visit a Status and Upgrade section, where you can check your stats and upgrade your attack, sub-weapon and special skills using the points you obtain while doing missions. You can also visit the gift shop where you can buy varying gifts for the ladies you’ll encounter in Killer is Dead, to be used in other side games, as well as items like a Mika Ticket. Mika is your assistant on your missions and if you have a Mika Ticket and suffer cardiac arrest in battle, she will magically drop from the sky and pound on your chest by means of a mini-game until you are conscious again. In essence they provide the players in-game continues.
Another side game, also available on the world map, called Bug Hunt, has you basically re-visit previous environments and eliminating bugs. The goal is to find and kill all enemies as fast as you can to get the best score you can. You can also choose to play Mondo’s Girls missions. A mini-game where you are at a club checking out various women. The goal is to put your sunglasses, and check out the ladies without getting caught. With your glasses on, you can see through their regular clothes and down to the underwear. The more you see, the more your “guts meter” rises. Once it fills, you can then offer a gift (provided you previously purchased a gift from the gift shop) in order to earn their trust. At that point they are one of Mondo’s girls and can reward you for future game play.
The sexual theme is definitely one I expected from a title like this and this game variant didn’t surprise me in the least, but what caught me off guard was the limited edition version I have for this review. The sleeve is reversible and a second cover is on the backside displaying all the ladies in the game in bikinis, posing and hugging. It also included some DLC that added alternate costumes for the ladies working in the office. So instead of wearing their regular clothes and uniforms, they are now decked out in kinky outfits and strutting their stuff. Classic Japanese animation stuff.
The game play itself is similar to many action dungeon cralwers. Your weapons consist of a katana sword and a cybernetic left arm which can act as a gun and can be used to duplicate a human hand, allowing you to scan your hand print for access to certain rooms. As with most action games, you start an Episode and clear room after room until you find the boss. You fight to the death and return to the office. The action is extremely fast, stylized, and chock full of over-the-top gore. The enemies themselves are some of the most creative and twisted creatures I have ever come across in a game. Think Final Fantasy meets Persona in terms of originality. Throughout each episode you collect various fallen items from enemies, and the environment, that will help you upgrade you skills from the office.
After playing this game, the first thing I thought was how well it could have translated to a PS Vita title. The game play would be absolutely perfect on Sony’s handheld device, as its very similar in design to Persona 4: Golden, and with the episodes done the way they are it would be a perfect game to play on the go. This is the sort of title the Vita needs on its resume. Hopefully its something we will see in the future.
There are no multiplayer modes in Killer Is Dead
Killer is Dead boasts some of the finest cell shaded graphics out there today. Mix these with its Anime style sequences, it truly is a piece of art. The game has a great story with an amazing tone and plays fast, fun and is extremely original. The down side is the game does tend to get a little repetitive. There is a large quantity of game play, but unfortunately it all plays out in the same manner, which could leave some players tuning out and not sticking with it for long. I strongly suggest trying this title out and drawing your own conclusions as I for one loved it, but could understand why someone may not. I recommend it for fans of the Persona series, Catherine or Anime in general.