Suda51â€™s last game was Lollipop Chainsaw. It was also the first game I reviewed for NZGamer.com: I gave it 5.5. Killer Is Dead makes Lollipop Chainsaw look like Red Dead Redemption.
At no point during KID did I ever fully understand what was going on, so bear with me during this description. You play as Mondo, a cyborg assassin working for a government contractor who uses a katana and his cybernetic arm to kill his targets. Mondo works with an assistant named Mika who is a stereotype of a kawaii Japanese girl, and will get on your nerves almost instantly.
Mondoâ€™s clients are just plain weird, like Moon River who lives on the far side of the moon and bears a striking resemblance to Audrey Hepburn (get it?). But itâ€™s not just their strange appearance, voices, and general vibe that makes them strange, they also send you on bizarre missions. The first, for example, takes place in a strange labyrinth-esque house where Alice lives. None of the missions seem to make sense, including the enemies who spring up from nowhere and arenâ€™t introduced beyond just attacking you. They arenâ€™t henchmen, theyâ€™re sort of random monsters; demons, I suppose.
KID doesnâ€™t seem to care much about story, so I wonâ€™t even bother with that. Instead Iâ€™ll talk about style.
The gameplay is basic third person hack and slash, with some slight variations. You can perform combos by tapping slash, guard, dodge, break guard, and directions. Sometimes, at the end of these combos, you can hit a button to get your choice of reward from the kill. Also if you time your dodge right the screen goes black, white, and red and you can unleash a flurry of blows onto your unprotected opponent.
Killing opponents gives you various pick-ups but mainly blood. Blood is the ammunition for your gun but can also be turned into health (once you have the upgrade.) As you hack at your enemies, blood sprays everywhere and your blood meter fills. You can also collect pick-ups through the age-old method of destroying crates. Sometimes some of these crates are hiding Scarlett, the blood nurse - more on her later.
My main concern with any third person game, be it shooter, slasher, or even the Sims, is what the camera does. Lollipop Chainsaw's camera was a mess, but KID is surprisingly good. Only once or twice did it move to a place where I couldnâ€™t see who I was fighting. Annoyingly, though, some of the boss fights require weird angles.
One fight sequence takes place in a dream and when you hit a particular type of enemy the view shifts suddenly to the enemyâ€™s point of view. This sounds fun and innovative but it actually plays terribly as you canâ€™t quite judge how far you are from the enemy nor dodge any other incoming attacks from other enemies.
And so you die; well I did. But if youâ€™ve almost got that boss beaten and you donâ€™t want to restart from a checkpoint, you can cash in a Mika Ticket. Playing this after you die lets Mika run in and pound her fists on your chest until you are revived. Tickets are purchased in the gift shop alongside other upgrades and actual gifts.
Gifts are used in the side game called Gigolo Mode.
Gigolo Mode might be the dumbest thing I have ever seen. Essentially itâ€™s like a dodgy flash browser game where you have to stare at a womanâ€™s breasts and crotch while she isnâ€™t looking. Turns out what Suda51 means by Gigolo is â€śpervert at a barâ€ť. After gaining enough â€śgutsâ€ť from your leering you then have the chance to give the girl a gift; give her enough gifts and you get to â€śsleepâ€ť with her. The quote marks are because the game doesnâ€™t actually have a bit where you have sex, itâ€™s only implied via conversation over a black screen. The makers of this game are scared of people having having sex, but ok with ultraviolence and adolescent-level perving.
The pinnacle of this is Scarlett, a character whose design is very similar to Juliet from Lollipop Chainsaw, except she has a giant syringe and giant breasts. When you find Scarlett in-game she auto-fills your blood meter and unlocks a Scarlett challenge level. You get to the Scarlett missions from the regular mission screen and you find her floating in mid-air, straddling her syringe. Sheâ€™ll set you challenges like kill a certain number of enemies in a certain amount of time, that sort of thing. Do enough challenges and sheâ€™ll give you X-Ray glasses so you can see through all of the girlâ€™s clothes. Unsurprisingly Scarlett doesnâ€™t change much.
Perhaps I could look past all of this incredibly juvenile sexism if the game was any good, but itâ€™s really not. The game is played at a slow pace, the story is just confusing, and thereâ€™s nothing that makes me actually want to play it.
At one point in the game thereâ€™s a dialogue between a boss and Mondo where the bad guy says Mondo should join him. Mondo replies that it would disappoint the gamers because this was supposed to be an action game. The developers probably thought that this was a clever bit of meta-level banter, breaking the fourth wall, but instead it made me reflect on how disappointed I was, how hard I had tried to like this game when it really is just boring.