From Suda51 – expect strangeness.
Killer Is Dead, from Grasshopper Manufacture, takes quirky to the extreme. In Killer Is Dead, the player is taken on a strange journey into the world of Mondo Zappa, a very cool assassin who is hired by the Bryan Execution Firm to eliminate targets around the world, targets that happen to be incredibly bizarre and quite often monstrous. The firm is run by a sinister looking individual with a cybernetic eye called Bryan Roses, who can frequently be found in the corner of the office giving out information and sounding like Samuel L Jackson.
Missions will be offered from the world map, and include quests that end in exciting boss battles and the awkward sexual interaction of the Gigolo missions. For the majority of the time though, you will be encountering various enemies and criminal masterminds as you try to meet certain objectives.
Killer Is Dead offers different levels of difficulty, giving players a good reason to come back after finishing this relatively short game. Personally, I chose the easy difficulty to start with as I wasn’t sure of the mechanics. As it turns out, the game is quit hard, so easy was a good place to start.
The core mechanics of the game are hack and slash based, with plenty of combos available. Mondo can perform various attacks on his enemies with his Katana weapon called Gekkou. Gekkou absorbs blood from opponents which boosts Mondo’s fighting abilities. Mondo is also rather handily equipped with a cybernetic arm known as Muscleback which operates on the blood that has been absorbed and acts, to begin with, as a gun. Muscleback can later be transformed into other weapons, and has other uses besides, such as cracking fingerprint codes.
The combat itself has a certain amount of button mashing, while dodging plays an important role. The attacks can be mind-blowingly impressive when successfully pulled off, and have equally impressive names such as Enforcement Kill, Carnage Kill, Punishment Kill or Assassination Kill. It’s quite descriptive. Learning the moves and attack patterns of the enemies becomes essential quite early in the game, especially for the epic boss battles. But, should you find yourself overwhelmed by enemies and forced to the ground, there is a chance to be saved. If you managed to purchase a Mika ticket from the gift shop within the game, you will be revived by your incredibly odd assistant Mika. She will come plummeting out of the sky and start slamming your chest to kick start your heart.
There are various objects to grab through the game, such as the Moon Crystals that upgrade Mondo, Health Gems to boost Mondo’s vitality and Blood Roses to raise his blood power. At the end of each level, the game grades you on everything from the damage you dealt to how quickly you completed the area.
Mondo is something of a womaniser, and this is most apparent in the Gigolo Missions. It is through successfully completing these missions that Mondo obtains weapon upgrades. These missions involve a strange mini game in which the player has to look at various parts of a womans body, such as the breasts, without being caught catching a glimpse. It’s all a bit odd, but successfully filling the “guts” meter by sneaking pervy looks at a woman offers the chance to present them with a gift from the gift shop, which will hopefully result in the weapon upgrade, and maybe a night of …
The gift shop offers all manner of persuasive items for the player to spend their hard-earned cash on, from roses to bottle of fancy perfume. The shop also stocks other items such as the Mika tickets and other health assisting objects.
Killer Is Dead has a lot in common with the previous Suda51 games, and with games such as Bayonetta. It has a very distinctive visual style combined with the fast flowing combat mechanics. The story can be a bit slow, and the action is certainly repetitive and all too familiar, but the game is quirky enough to pull it off. The characters and settings are all very interesting, and Mondo himself has quite a range of emotions from dark and moody to fun and down right cheeky.
Much like the main character, Mondo Zappa, Killer Is Dead is a game that you will either love or loathe. It is easy to recommend the game to fans of Suda51’s work, or to those who fancy some combo heavy, blood soaked action. The questionable Gigolo missions are sure to raise some eyebrows, but there is a lot of exciting gameplay here and Killer Is Dead is sure to capture the audience’s attention one way or another.