Goichi Suda aka Suda51 can be likened to Quentin Tarantino. Both men's creative talents have led to the creation of media that deviate from the norm.
Their respective work may be odd to some, but those who appreciate it surely take notice of the out-of-the-box nature of their material. Suda51′s video games career can be marked by various titles that were above the realm of weird and mind bending.
Games such as Killer7, the No More Heroes series, and Lollipop Chainsaw showcase the madman’s penchant for crafting eccentric video games. That tradition continues with his latest action/adventure release, Killer is Dead. Players take control of the suave executioner, Mondo Zappa. He makes his pay by joining up with a freelance assassins agency called an “Executioner Office.” Mondo is sent out on plenty of missions to fulfill contracts for a number of helpless individuals.
This is where the game’s colorful and trippy nature shines the most. The main missions’ back-stories are varied and full of odd instances, like retrieving the sense of sound from a demonic entity who wants to use it to project evil. Taking him out means traversing through his massive building, which is a front for an audio design company. Crazy, right? The game’s many instances get more intricate and puzzling as you make your way through its 12 missions. The plot can be hard to follow, but the central idea of “evil deeds that focus on the Moon” is easy to notice after a few playthroughs. The overall story line is nothing to write home about or take notice of, though.
The finest aspect of Killer is Dead has to be its combat. Mondo’s main tools of choice are a katana and an augmented arm that can transform into all types of weapons. Mondo can cut through groups of mace sporting enemies, claw wielding maniacs and giant eyeballs that explode in your vicinity. It feels awesome when your hacking ‘n slashing maneuvers combine perfectly with the game’s dodge mechanics. Mondo can guard or dash at the last second to enter a bullet time-esque mode that lets him cut baddies even faster. Some enemies can be vanquished in other manners that net Mondo four separate types of items. Then there’s the punch mechanic that lets you break an enemy’s guard and the Adrenaline Burst finisher that lets you destroy enemies in style. On top of all that, Mondo can keep a safe distance and shoot, drill or freeze his adversaries with his interchangeable arm. The combat is deeper than you think.
That said, and deep as it is, the combat is still hampered by the lack of a lock-on system. When 4 or 5 enemies litter the battlefield, the camera becomes a bit unwieldy as you try to focus your attacks on one baddie. The feeling of being overwhelmed becomes rampant in later encounters, due to the explosive flashes that pop up as you down enemies and various environmental elements. Boss fights make up the finishing stretch of your missions. These fights are your typical encounters – check for their patterns, dodge at the right time and take the opportunity to whittle down their health. They serve their purpose as far as forwarding the plot and giving you huge enemies to contend with.
The other modes that exist in Killer is Dead are challenge missions and the “Gigolo” missions. The challenge missions are what you’d expect, but the “Gigolo” missions are an entirely different beast. Mondo hits up various bars and tries to woo a long list of his lady friends. These scenarios are what will net you some extra gear for Mondo, so it pays to play through them. You’re tasked with “observing” these ladies and presenting them with gifts that will win you their love and affection. Some might consider these gameplay scenarios as offensive gaming tropes that feed into male gamer stereotypes, while others might not be too concerned enough to be offended. Your enjoyment of these missions depends on your taste entirely.
Killer is Dead is your usual Suda51 production. Its visual aesthetic, music, plot, central themes and main/supporting cast are all unique. The actual gameplay itself is solid enough, but it pails in comparison to everything surrounding it. For gamers who have become acclimated with Suda51′s style of video games, Killer is Dead is something you should consider giving a try. For everyone else, the weird factor might be a tad overwhelming.
Killer is Dead is still worth a look from those aforementioned gamers, though.