You just gotta love Japanese games. No matter how crazy or over-the-top they might get at times, there’s still something special about them that you can’t help but enjoy while playing them. Killer is Dead is definitely no exception to this. From hacking and slashing enemies with your katana to picking up chicks at the bar, there is something for everyone here in this wild, crazy and stylish game.
Created by the deranged mind of SUDA51, famous for games such as No More Heroes and Lollipop Chainsaw, Killer is Dead follows the story of Mondo Zappa, an executioner who works for the Bryan Execution Firm and takes on different jobs at the right price. Mondo fights with a katana in his right hand and a cybernetic arm on his left, which can transform into different weapons such as a gun or drill. Working with Mondo is his employer, Bryan, his colleague, Vivienne and his personal assistant, Mika. While this is just the basis of what the game is about, there’s more to it than what I’ve just explained. There are actually two reasons why I can’t explain much more of the plot: 1) it will potentially give away spoilers and 2) it’s too hard and confusing to explain (I’m serious, though, the plot is completely whack but in a good way). Let’s just say there’s a fascination with the dark side of the moon in this game (cue Pink Floyd).
Compared to other hack-n-slash titles on PC, Killer is Dead’s control scheme is actually quite friendly towards PC gamers, utilizing the mouse to attack and move the camera around. The camera controls can be problematic at times but this can be avoided. Despite the game’s fighting mechanics not being as fast-paced as Devil May Cry, for example, the gameplay is still fluid and well paced. The game also encourages you to dodge quite a bit as you can counterattack with quick, rapid attacks to your enemy if timed properly. As you progress through the game you earn Moon Crystals, which can be used to upgrade Mondo’s arsenal of attacks and fighting moves.
The game definitely has an old school feel to it where you select what level you want to play in the game. Also, whenever you die in a level, the game allows you to revive yourself using a “Mika ticket”. If you don’t have any “Mika tickets” then you will have to restart the game from a previous checkpoint. The levels in this game are called “Episodes” so the game kinda has an anime feel to it as well. After each “episode” you earn a score and rank based on your performance in that “episode”. The game also encourages you to replay “episodes” in order to improve your score. Along with the main storyline you get side missions which become available after an “episode” is cleared. Then there is the awkward and controversial Gigolo mode. Basically, it is a dating sim mini-game where you go to a bar and try to win over the heart of a beauty. This involves building up your guts meter so that you can offer the beauty gifts. How do you build up this guts meter you ask? Simple: stare at her boobs and lower region without getting caught. Because the PC version includes all the DLC, you also get X-ray sunglasses which, surprise surprise, allow you to see through the beauty’s clothing in order to build up your guts meter. Once you have won the beauty over you will be rewarded either with a new weapon or something else. Once you win over the beauty three times you get to have sexy time with her (cue Let’s Get it On).
Something that I picked up from previous Steam reviews of this game was that during Episode 3 there was an infinite loading screen bug that would appear. After more research into this problem, it was discovered that this was a problem for those who have dual core processors. Luckily, mine is a quad core so I didn’t run into this problem when I got to that point in the game. If you have a dual core processor, I suggest you stay away from this game if you want to avoid this problem. Also, if you’re a PC Master Race fanboy/fangirl, the game is unfortunately clocked at 30 FPS. You can, apparently, get guides online to help you make the game run at 60 FPS but personally I didn’t care about the FPS of the game (I’m not that crazy about it).
Killer is Dead is a game that you’ll either love or hate, depending on what aspect of a video game you find most important. Based on my experience so far, the gameplay is what keeps me coming back for more. The plot is crazy and weird, but also entertaining at the same time (Mondo even breaks the fourth wall in one instance of the game, which I found very amusing). With its cell-shaded graphics and great soundtrack, Killer is Dead is a kickass and crazy ride that you won’t stop playing anytime soon.