Killer Is Dead is a 2013 action video game developed by Grasshopper Manufacture and published by Kadokawa Games in Japan, Xseed Games in North America and Deep Silver in Europe. The apparently critically acclaimed Suda 51 serves as executive director on the game.
The main character is an executioner named Mondo Zappa who receives jobs from the Bryan Execution Firm. This firm, run by a cyborg named Bryan Roses, tasks Mondo with killing dangerous criminals and assassins from around the world. Majority of the game’s story revolves around this aspect and deeper in the story would be spoiler related but it does try to explain why the main character has a cyborg arm and his origin.
My experience through out the campaign felt kind of dull honestly, I felt no connect real connection with the character and the plot seems to be way too familiar to past games in the same genre and even certain anime series out there. The game’s approach is quite odd also (granted this is my first Suda 51 game and I’ve heard all of his games are like this). As it goes from serious to goofy, to perverted in quick transitions but they all just don’t fit together that smoothly. Some chapters are under a minute long, some chapters are literally cut-scene then a loading screen then another cut-scene then another loading screen, and some are half an hour long. The consistency of length is all over the place and not knowing exactly how long a chapter is going to last it quite a annoying (and the game isn’t even that long to begin with not saying it should be any longer that it already is.)
The art style in Killer is Dead I feel half and half. One part of me feels that this is a unique way to show off a game, I’ve haven’t seen a game this whole generation that used cell shading like this. Then the other part of me feels that if this game was shown off any other way it would have probably looked like complete and utter trash and that this decision to make the game look like this was the only way to cover up how bad it could have looked. Even imagining it in regular cell shading without the shadow effect on 80% of the game would have looked pretty bad and in dark areas of the game it shows how flawed this artist design is. The sound on the other hand sounded quite good, voice acting sounds great and the music wasn’t that bad either I think this is the only part of the game that 100% didn’t bother me one bit.
Now from the get go like I said earlier I’ve never played a Suda 51 game so no comparison to games like No More Heroes or Loli-Pop Chainsaw can be made here. The good is that the character Mondo has some cool weapons to his cryborg arm he called “Muscle Back”, it can transform into a Fully Automatic Buster Gun (with a high rate of fire when upgraded), it can transform into a Drill which can be used to break opponent’s guard, it can deal a lot of damage and break through hidden walls (it can be upgraded to Drill faster). He also has a Freeze Gun which can shoot frozen shots at enemies that makes enemies move slower or not at all and best of all charge cannon which obviously can be charged to blast an powerful energy shot towards enemies.
So as far as projectile gameplay is concerned it’s fun, BUT as far as melee gameplay not too much. You have your normal slash attacks with square and a punch attack with triangle with either can be quickly pressed for a quick succession of punches or charged for a stronger one hit punch both can be used to break guards and/or flinch opponents. As far as upgrading your melee combat it’s extremely limited, you get and upper cut slash which can be done by first pressing the opposite direction Mondo is facing the the opposite direction of that. And you have the ability to dash with circle (while running) or around enemies when facing them, pressing circle idle is block and pressing it right before an enemy attacks you causes a counter.
All of the basics of your typical hack and slash or beat em up seems to be there (except jump obviously which means there is no air combos anywhere in this game). So what went wrong? Regular attacking is fine and punching enemies is cool but the amount of combination between the two is extremely limited and can get boring quicker than a Dynasty Warriors game to the generic gamer. I press square more times in this game than any Dynasty Warriors I’ve played to the point where my whole arm starts to hurt by pressing square so much, so faster, so long. The upper-cut slash you think would be useful IF IT WORKED doing the combination for the upper-cut slash most of the time causes Mondo to end up upward slashing in the wrong direction it’s frustrating.
The worst thing of all in this entire game when it comes to gameplay has to be the camera angles. I’ve never really complained about camera angles in any game I’ve ever played but I’ve never seen it this bad in my entire life. The camera is continuously fighting with you, what it tries to do is to get the most epic angle possibly while fighting one and I REPEAT ONE OPPONENT. What this does during combat against multiple enemies is horrendous, during combat it tries to get really close between you and the opponent you are attacking (most of the time angling the camera in really close to Mondo and the opponent he’s fighting for a tekken like angle). So if any other third enemy tries to hit you, you most of the time you wouldn’t really see it because of how close the camera is to Mondo and the enemy you are focused on. I’ve never seen a game get single handedly destroyed by the camera angles itself.
Killer is Dead even to your typical Beat Em Up fan is still in a niche territory. This genre I believe has always been my favorite genre of gaming but Killer is Dead made me feel that there was so much potential lost. In every category of the game except music itself is mediocre at best. The replay value is little to none with a short uninteresting campaign with a camera angle I feel being the worst enemy I had to fight in the entire game. You can’t like every game you play even if it’s in your favorite genre of game and if all Suda 51 games are like this then I most likely going to stay away from No More Heroes and Loli-Pop Chain Saw forever.
+ Sound Effects, Voice Acting and Music
- Camera Angles
- Low/Uninteresting Replay Value Content
- Uninteresting Mini Games not even worth mentioning
- Art Design actually makes the game look like it has a contrast issue when seen in darker areas of the game
- Combat System is dull than more simplistic worst Dynasty Warriors Game (Trust me I would know)