Take a look at our Killer is Dead video review developed by Grasshopper Manufacture and is a not to be taken seriously action game from the crazed mind of Suda 51 who brought us delights such as No More Heroes, Lollipop Chainsaw and the Gamecube classic Killer 7. It’s gaming gone mad, but is it any good?
Today we’re taking a look at the madcap Killer is Dead from Grasshopper Manufacture which is available now on PS3 and Xbox 360 and comes from the warped mind of Suda 51 who most recently released the rather titillating Lollipop Chainsaw. Basically, all you really need to know about the game’s story here is that you play the rather suave assassin character Mondo Zapper who is tasked with lopping off heads for work, and in his free time, is a bit of a lady killer. Alongside his sidekick Mika, joins the Bryan Execution Firm for jobs around the globe and other faraway places like the Moon!
Whilst there is some semblance of a plot buried within the game, there’s also a lot of fluff around it which makes it more an exercise in simply completing the 12 stages on offer rather than following a cohesive story. Players are treated to various cutscenes which show off the cybernetic looking characters, and showcase a surreal world that’s fantastical and not meant to be fully understood – often resulting in jarring shifting scenarios that make little sense or require any being leveled at it. As a player, the onus lies in either mashing away at the X button, and killing everything that moves, or being a little more methodical by exercising specific attack moves against an unusual assortment of foes.
Gamers can get by fairly easily on default settings by simply hammering a single button and learning how to counter dodge and attack. Once this basic premise is mastered, then taking down enemies becomes a breeze. Mondo is thrown into a number of scenarios with the resulting execution being the pinnacle of the mission. These are usually against boss characters who don’t pose too much of a problem once their attack patterns are figured out. It’s probably safe to say that on default settings at least, the game is quite easy to play – perhaps too easy for experienced action gamers.
What is perhaps the greatest selling point for the game aside from upgrading Mondo to become even more baddass with his changeable mechanical arm, is the essence of playing through a mini anime series which the game presents very well. There’s some extra stuff thrown in between missions, and for those who find the hidden nurse Scarlett on each stage will unlock more side missions which tend to be a bit more challenging and can be replayed over and over with the aim of getting a higher rating.
One of the more unusual aspect of the game are the moments outside of the main missions where Mondo tries to woo females by offering gifts – which is key to unlocking upgrades for his robotic arm. Gifts can be purchased with mission funds, and can only be presented when a heart meter is filled. To do this players have to stare at the women in a suggestive and perhaps naughty manner, when their eyes are averted. It’s a distracting mini game that probably won’t win any favours with female gamers, but acts as a little bit of light comedy relief amongst the madness that is the rest of the game.
Killer is Dead plays pretty smoothly with its hard hitting action, except there’s some noticeable screen tearing throughout the game which lets the visual element down somewhat. The game oozes highly stylized simplistic anime visuals that work wonders in context, and have to be seen to be believed.
Audio is also well met, with optional Japanese voices on offer for those looking for a more authentic experience, although saying that, the English voice over works equally as well with solid performances all round which is a good thing. There’s also a killer sound track offering some exciting up tempo beats and cool sounds which compliments the game’s style very well.
The Killer is Dead story isn’t the longest to play through, although does contain quite a few extras to mess around with and unlock which ups the play time considerably. There’s a Very Hard mode which is unlocked once the story is bested for the first time, leaderboards to compare with others around the globe, upgrades and costumes to unlock. With some challenging achievements to strive for as well means that if players look beneath the surface will find the hours creeping into double figures.
To surmise, Killer is Dead is perhaps best viewed as a niche action game, that won’t necessarily be universally appealing. For those who “get it” will find an entertaining ride through some warped surrealism which is perhaps rare these days and makes the game stand out. For those who don’t, will probably wonder what just happened after the end credits roll out. In this regard it’s hard to recommend the game in the general sense, but for gamers who like to go off on a tangent will find an encapsulating game that’s pretty fun to play.
Aside from the horrible screen tearing, ease of play and lack of accessibility, Killer is Dead is one of those games which you’ll either love or hate. It’s ultra cool, culturally different and not afraid to have its own identity which is positive. If you like anime then it’s well worth checking out, and if you’re not a fan, then you won’t feel like you’ve missed out if you pass on this game.
Score 8/10 – Review by Robert Cram.