Killer is Dead Review
Killer is Dead is developed by Grasshopper Manufacture and published by Xseed Games in North America. While not a true sequel to Killer 7 and No More Heroes, Killer is Dead picks up where both of those games left off and shares the same overall style. The game is much like the spiritual successor to Suda51's previous assassin series. The game features cell-shaded graphics and an overall surreal look just like it's predecessors along with hack and slash gameplay.
Killer is Dead tells the tale of Mondo Zappa and his company (Bryan Execution Firm) as he hunts down targets that he is assigned to. The game starts out with what seems like random targets along with the story that surrounds them but then the plot starts to branch together toward the end. If you've played Killer 7, you'll feel right at home with the surreal visuals and story elements presented in the game. There is one target that lives on the moon and there are demon and spiritual targets that Mondo must hunt down. Besides some decent characters, the story is honestly hard to follow - by the end of the game, I was nearly just as lost once I finished it. It really lacks character depth, even for the main character.
The game is a simple hack and slash at its core. Even though the combat isn't very deep, it came across as quite addicting overall. Killer is Dead can be played as a simple button masher, but if you take advantage of the dodging, parrying and counter attacks, it can be played at a level near that of Devil May Cry or Ninja Gaiden - sure, the game is not as deep as those two action games, but it can feel just as fun. Parrying requires some split second timing in order to interrupt moves.
Once moves are interrupted, Mondo will automatically stop the attack and throw the enemy. When attacks are dodged at the second right before an attack, Mondo can step to the side and time will slow to allow him to wail on the enemy with his sword. As Mondo chains enemy hits, he will be able to finish off enemies with a finishing move. A display of the four face buttons will appear and you can decide how to kill off the current weakened enemy depending on which face button you hit - it's like a finishing move. Bigger enemies and bosses must be weakened and then Mondo will have to go into a sort of bullet time mode to where all action will slow before he delivers the final blow to kill the enemy.
Along with Mondo's sword (Gekkou), he can use his cybernetic arm during combat (Mussellback). His arm works off the blood that he gains from defeated enemies. Blood is absorbed with Mondo's sword. There is a meter on the upper-left portion of the screen that shows Mondo's current blood level. Mondo's left cybernetic arm can be used to break enemy's guard and it can also transform into four different subweapons. The primary weapon for Mondo's arm is a rapid-fire gun that uses blood in order to fire it. Mondo's arm is mainly used for a long-range weapon. Mondo can upgrade his abilities and buy new abilities by collecting money from completed missions.
Besides hack and slash, the game doesn't vary that much in gameplay in the main story. There is one part where you fight a boss while on a vehicle, but don't expect too much of a break from the usual hack and slash. Boss battles are a nice break from the usual enemy battles, but they don't feel as epic as usual Suda51 boss fights from games such as Lollipop Chainsaw.
The game offers a few mini games that can be played to gain extra items for the store and extra subweapons. The majority of the mini games are survival mode fights where Mondo must defeat enemies a certain way or in a certain amount of time and there are some Gigolo side missions where Mondo must get a girl (a beauty) to fall for him. Mondo must bring a present that can be bought from the store in order to give to the beauty to win her over. During the mini game, the main objective is to stare at her and increase affection, which is shown in a meter. The game literally wants you to stare down at the beauty's body as she turns to look off to the side. Failure to stop staring at her bottom half when she looks back at Mondo can end the whole mini game if she notices Mondo's eyes for too long. After so much staring, Mondo can give her a present to win her over. That is basically the whole Gigolo side mission setup in a nutshell, and yes, it gets old after the first time. All the side missions are either very short of they simply aren't fun for the most part.
The English voice acting in Killer is Dead is superb. It has an option for English and Japanese voice acting along with English subtitles. I didn't even bother to change over to the Japanese voice acting since the English dialogue was done so well. The game also has a great soundtrack. The soundtrack is composed of techno and a few rock tunes, and it all sounds really good and fits the style of the game well. The overall look of the game is absolutely beautiful and very colorful. Enemy designs are numerous in number and they all have different attack patterns that you must learn if you plan to best them quickly.
The game has altogether 12 missions and it clocked in at just a little over 7 hours for me. I didn't do many of the side missions - my playthrough was mainly for the main story. This game has TONS of cutscenes and sometimes the cutscenes take up the majority of the time in a story mission. There are some story missions that only have about 3 minutes of gameplay while all the rest of the time is devoted to cutscenes. It's kind of a shame that the main game is so short and that too much of the action in toned down in favor of cutscene since the gameplay is quite good. Side missions are really not that fun to get involved in since many of them are boring tasks or just staring at women to win them over.
For replay value, the game has a decent amount. There is an Easy, Normal, Hard and Very Hard difficulty. The game allows for play after all missions are finished - you can go through any stage or side mission afterwards with leveled up abilities. There are a few unlockable items such as unlockable costumes that can be bought from the store once the game is beaten.
Even with the game's problems, if you're a Suda51 fan, you'll find something to like here, but I bet you won't enjoy it as much as his other games. Practically ever other Suda51 game that I have played is more fun, longer and more satisfying than this one. There is still fun to be had with Killer is Dead, mainly with the enjoyable combat - it's far better than Lollipop Chainsaw's combat - but, overall, the experience is over with way too quick to be that memorable.
+ Addicting gameplay
+ Good soundtrack and English voiceovers
+ Killer 7 and No More Heroes visual style
- Boring mini games
- Not enough gameplay in some missions
- Story lacks depth
Final Rating: 65%. Killer is Dead is probably the weakest Suda51 game that I have played, but it has a very enjoyable combat system that might draw in some players like it did with me.