Reviews// Killer is Dead

Posted 27 Aug 2013 14:17 by
Allow me to start by saying this: Killer is Dead is a very weird game.

Everything from tone to mechanics, it sticks out from the crowd and grabs your attention immediately. Thatís not really surprising when you look at Suda 51ís catalogue of work.

Heís an experimental developer and because of this some of his games seem to be a little half baked. The prime example was his last major home console title Lollipop Chainsaw (which I reviewed here).

It was filled with ideas and ambition but never quiet came together. Thankfully Killer is Dead feels a lot more complete, and when it manages to tie all its off central components together, it offers a unique experience that borrows from many but imitates none.

Story
Taking the game at face value, itís a shallow story stuffed with ultra violence and outrageous sexism. You play as Mondo, a misogynistic, paid assassin with a bionic arm. As you take down your targets given to you by clients you learn more about the lead character; the deeper you delve into his thoughts and past, the more complex he becomes.

The writing is sometimes completely bizarre, making you question the translation into English but as you go on you discover that the off the wall dialogue has a purpose.

This was the most surprising thing I found with Killer is Dead.

Many of the women in the game are dressed in revealing clothing, and some are there to be won as prizes. But the more you get to know Mondo, the more you question the world around him.

However, after just the first few missions it became apparent to me that what you see, is what he sees. Are the overly sexualised female characters really an excuse for titillation, or does this represent Mondoís view of the world and his attitude towards women?

That might be seen as justifying sexism to some. Others will no doubt deny any sort of artistic view on what is clearly a huge problem within the medium. But to me it had meaning and although sometimes it seemed a little unjustified and over the top, it had me questioning the character I was playing as and made him darker than he initially seemed.

Mondo isnít a nice character. He looks and acts cool but his complex upbringing and misunderstanding of his current situation makes him interesting. Youíre not supposed to like Mondo. He doesnít want you to like him. But heís crying out to be understood and as you enter his trippy recollections of his past, heís aware youíre watching and wants you to understand.

Visuals

Killer is Dead will grab your eyeballs from the first cutscene. Itís over reflective surfaces bounce neon lighting and bubblegum colours straight out of the screen and onto your face. Itís more than just a gimmicky look and can create scenes that stun you as you play.

Each level feels like a new artistic view of another dimension. Just when you think itís trying to replicate the feel of a comic book it switches to a vision of heaven and then into a painting on a slate canvas. In the same way El Shadai changes things up, Killer is Dead constantly keeps you interested in what the next room holds for your retinas.

Sometimes itís over-stylised and the cracks begin to show. This is especially true in larger open areas and when you stop to look closely at the world around you. But those moments are few and far between and for the most part Killer is Dead simply looks wonderful.

I did notice a fair bit of slow down and screen tearing in places too, mainly in the opening few hours but it pops up every now and again in more visually intense stages. In fact presentation as a whole can be a little hit and miss.

The anime-style cutscenes set themselves apart from the in game ones in a nice way and never feel out of place and the menu system is perfect, clean in game and stylish out of it. But the fluidity of joining all the peaces together is lost and constantly suffers from stuttering and loading screens in odd places breaking you out of the otherwise pleasing presentation.
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