I have never played something that has made me so completely confused by its story and yet strangely enthralled by it at once; that was until I played Killer is Dead. It is written and directed by the infamous Suda 51 (Goitchi Suda), who is known for his amazingly outlandish imagination.
Our suave hero, Mondo, is a hired assassin who executes supernatural creatures and people, while his adventures take him from secret government facilities in area 151 to the moon. From the beginning the story is incredibly vague. Any question you find answered is over shadowed by a more outlandish question, and the craziness snowballs to the end. This can become somewhat of a problem as the overall story becomes back benched; leaving anyone who is actually interested in what’s going on out it the dark. Thankfully each mission has a short contained story you undertake, most of which are hilarious due to Mondo’s calm exterior, never to be phased by extra-terrestrials or ghostly clients. After receiving his orders, Mondo is taken to the objective where he must battle groups of enemies to get to his target and execute them.
Killers is Dead offers a fast paced hack and slash combat that balances offensive and defensive manoeuvres. Mondo has two weapons at his disposal; Gekkou, his sword, and his robotic left arm, Musselback. Gekkou is your main weapon in combat and is able to use the blood of your slain enemies to become more powerful; making you faster and stronger with higher combos, and losing your speed and power with damage. To keep your combo you must dodge enemy attacks, when timed right triggering an insane button mashing scene where Mondo hacks his opponents to pieces, further adding to your combo counter.
Musselback is the weapon to choice when fighting enemies at a distance, as it is essentially a gun that uses the crystalized blood of enemies to power is projectiles. You can also unlock attachments, adding things like a drill or freeze bullets, which are interesting but don’t add much dimension to all the hacking and slashing you will be focusing on.
If you get tired of all that combat, than you can relax on a date in gigolo mode, where you stare at different women’s assets, not being creepy or anything. By making them happy, either giving them presents or with enough courage, you can take them home where you are rewarded with a new weapon or outfit. New costumes are available for you and the ladies you meet throughout the game; of course, you get cool costumes and they get lingerie... There is also a combat challenge room where you can test your skill, which has an enjoyable difficulty that also unlocks items.
Killer is Dead has a gorgeous noir visual style bursting with colour and flair. Everything is vibrant and the level designs have a lot of variation, which really show off what Grasshopper Manufacture can do. Enemies look great, having quite a few different enemy skins and combat types for you to battle with; there is worse in a hack and slash game than killing the same three enemies a thousand times over. Bosses even greater range; you will fight a zombie Mozart wannabe, a demon steam train and, my personal favourite, the Yakuza boss who has a living tiger tattoo (he can even ride the damn thing). However, battling these great looking bosses can be a letdown.
Some boss battles can be so underwhelming that they are borderline boring. One boss has you shooting at eye balls until the stem hits the floor, you hit it and it falls off, rinse and repeat. Normally that wouldn’t be a problem if the boss actually hit you with an attack that hurt once and awhile. The next boss will then destroy you in two hits, making the difficulty spikes random and frustrating.
Killer is Dead is a one of a kind hack and slash. As much as I love games that try something new, I can’t shake the feeling that something has been lost in translation here. No game really compares and whether that’s its downfall (or not), I will leave up to you to decide.
Final Round Rating - 7/10
- Will Flynn