Sunday, December 22, 2013

Killer Is Dead Review

Reviewing a game like Killer Is Dead is very hard to do. I have completed the game and the credits have rolled,but I don't feel like I've actually "beat" the game. Well, in the traditional sense at least. Oh, the final boss has been killed and the world is saved, but I have no idea how it happened. It says a lot that Killer Is Dead is the single most confusing, nonsensical game that I have ever played. It's also one of the most controversial video games of 2013, so you know this is going to be fun!

Before I can actually talk about the game, I feel I need to address the elephant in the room with this game. There is a mode in this game called "Gigolo Mode", where the entire point is to look at women's breasts and nether regions in order for you to give them gifts, which in turn will have them fall in love with you and give you sex and a weapon upgrade. Here's just a brief explanation on Gigolo Mode with a bit of gameplay, with thanks to the Game Front for the footage. 

As for my opinion on the matter, I don't like the mode, and I can easily see why people are offended by it, but I can see why the mode was included in the game. The culture here in the West is completely different than in Japan in terms of women representation in video games. In Japan, there are tons of dating sims and scantily clad women in their games because more and more men in Japan are less interested in real life women, who see men as passive and not interesting, and instead focus a lot more on women in video games, where they can be designed exactly how they want them to, don't talk back, and can give sexual gratification to men without any of that messy "relationship" thing. In other words, stuff like this exists because it's catering to a large audience in Japan, and when it's brought over to the West, that audience is gone and is looked at in a completely new light and that yes, to some people it is sexist. 

As for the actual game, Killer is Dead manages to be an enjoyable game, but at the same time a game that makes absolutely zero sense in every definition of the word. And it's not like Sharknado where the lack of logic is humorous in its insanity, but more confusing and bizarre without any charm to it. There's a character named Takeru that's a talking glowing unicorn that appears twice in the game without any real purpose, and is never explained what the hell he actually is. There's a man that lives on the moon named David that walks around in a golden codpiece, and only a golden codpiece, and calls that his "fighting ensemble". I know there's an audience for this kind of bizarre structure, but this is just taking it way too far. 

The majority of Google searches just yielded women in their underwear.
Just letting you know.
Our story centers around a man named Mondo Zappa, who has the lamest name fro trying to sound badass ever. He's an assassin that works for Bryan's Execution Office, run by a half-man half-cyborg Bryan, who is sent to kill people for payment. All of his executions start to involve a strange energy called Dark Matter that transforms whoever is using it and gives them special powers. It all connects a man named David, who lives on the Moon and wants to conquer Earth... and that's all I can make out of this game's plot. 

It sounds simple enough; kill people possessed by David's Dark Matter, but the missions make no sense at all. One missions has you hired by a blue bird to kill a zombie musician, another is by an alien to kill something that he claims "has stolen the Earth in its eye", and other stuff that isn't charming but more frustrating. What's even worse is that the game tried to develop a back handed moral and character study of Mondo and David in the last few missions, but god help you if you try to understand it. I have scoured across the internet to find any article that makes sense of the final mission. I could try and describe it to you, but it would take way too much time and wouldn't even make sense. It's way too cryptic, hides everything behind WTF images, and had me give up on understanding the plot by the halfway point. Oh, and there's also a subplot about memories and whether Mondo had his messed with, but I didn't even attempt at understanding it or what was going on half the time. 

Thankfully, combat was simple and easy to understand after a bit and was fun to master. It's a simple hack and slash game where you can attack, block, dodge, and use special abilities that draw on a blood meter in order to kill enemies. It's fun to chain together long combos, and the longer you chain them, the better kills you can perform. Get a combo over 30, and you can do a super kill that will net you items you can use to upgrade Mondo. Green gems increase his health bar, red roses increases the blood meter for combos, blue crystals restore Mondo's health, and yellow ore is used to upgrade you weapons and combos. It's simple and fun, and is easy to use, but takes some skill to master completely. 

This was the first gameplay image I found. This says a lot about the game...
Not only that, but the soundtrack is a real treat too. The soundtrack was done by Akira Yamaoka, who has done the music for pretty much every Silent Hill game. I love his work and think that his songs are fantastic, and this game is no exception. The game has a lot of techno rock in it, and I enjoyed it a lot more than I probably should have. The CD came with this game for free, and while I wouldn't be jumping online to download the whole album if it wasn't, I'm glad I actually have it.

And the graphics are pleasant to look at too! The game has a unique cell shading comic book vibe to it. There are a lot of heavy shadows and use of purple to make this game looks dark, but a pretty kind of dark. Seeing the game in motion looks so fluid, and while I wouldn't say it has the best cell shading I've ever seen, it's still great to look at when the majority of games that come out have an aesthetic that wants to replicate real life instead of indulge in the fact that so many visually interesting things can be done through video games. Each missions even starts out with a little sequence that is animated like papercraft, i.e it looks flat and looks like each character's body part is animated separately. Bottom line, I like it when my games look like Killer Is Dead, not when they look like Battlefield 4.

This game is also hyper violent. Blood has never looked so stylish
I wish I could have more praise for this game, but there's nothing else that's good I can say about the game. It looks stylish, sounds nice, and plays nice, but every other circumstance is frustrating. Missions are very repetitive and never varying from " Kill X amount of guys and move on". There aren't even puzzle elements to this game. It's just killing and more killing. The camera is against you, so while it may look pretty, it can get too chaotic and leave you confused as to where you are, or the camera may just flat out work against you and zoom in way too close when you're in the middle of combat. That, and the plot is just too outlandish and incomprehensible for me to enjoy it. 

Never before have I seen a case of style over substance more so than Killer Is Dead. The game tried to be more than it is, but falls so flat on its face it's kind of sad. There was potential for this game to be just as good as contemporaries like Devil May Cry and No More Heroes, but instead it's just an incoherent mess. I didn't hate this game, but man I wish that this game was better than it was. I give Killer Is Dead 3 "Mondo Girls" out of 5.

Seriously, there were more pictures of half naked women then there was gameplay pictures....

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