NSFW Gamer Review: Killer is Dead

NSFW Gamer Review: Killer is Dead

Do you want to be taken to weird places? Does a story that only makes sense at the end with all its mysteries unraveled in a sudden, undeniable punchline interest you? Are you in for a game experience so far off the beaten path you’ll wonder how you got there?

If you said “yes” to any or all of the questions above then Killer is Dead, the latest from Grasshopper Manufacture and Suda51, is the game for you.

Killer is Dead
Systems: PlayStation 3 [Reviewed], XBox 360
Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture
Publisher: Kurokawa Games
Release: August 25, 2013
MSRP: $59.99

NSFW Gamer Review: Killer is Dead

Our industry’s most famed creator of flawed masterpieces, Suda51, has worked his strange magic over us once again. Killer is Dead is a story about Mondo Zappa, a man who is offered work by the state-funded executioner’s office, set in an era where people live on the moon and cybernetic enhancements are fairly commonplace. It’s as strange and wonderful as it sounds.

Some strong comparisons can be drawn between Killer is Dead and Suda’s previous PS2 game, Killer7, but it isn’t a direct sequel. Instead, there are myriad influences that fans of Killer7 will notice, such as cel-shaded graphics, loads of symbolism, and a welcome return of the serious tone that has been absent from his most recent work. An unexpected comparison, however, is that there are also similarities to Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear Rising: ReVengeance.

NSFW Gamer Review: Killer is Dead

Starting with the combat system, Mondo switches between his Katana and his left arm’s various types of guns. Wielding the katana is very comparable to “Blade Mode” in ReVengeance, as your enemies will often be split in two, with blood spurting in such explosive and frequent fashion it makes Kill Bill look tame. There are also certain sequences that offer the chance to perform a streak of brutal execution animations, each of which provide you with a chance to choose what kind of power-up you want via the face buttons. The development team deserves a pat on the back for including a slight delay before the input, as it prevents you from tapping away on the attack button and accidentally selecting upgrade crystals when you need your enemy to spurt health items. Hand-to-hand isn’t on the level of God of War or Devil May Cry, but what’s provided keeps it from being a simple button-mashing beat-em-up.

Gunplay is fairly satisfying, with a few unique upgrades to be had that enhance the experience. Being able to slow time as you aim makes up for the lack of a lock-on, and the auto snap-to-target works decently. Upgrading the regular bullet shot brings a nice amount of punch, but what’s best is a fully upgraded Charge Cannon. Even with the regular gun, headshots are another brutally stylized form of execution, with the enemies head flying off their shoulders as if it’s a blood-propelled rocket. The game lacks nothing in visual flair.

NSFW Gamer Review: Killer is Dead

Enemy variety and design is another strength of the game. The “Wires,” as they are called, are well-fitted to their individual environments. For instance, when Mondo must kill a man at a recording company known as Sound Cloud Inc., the Wire’s faces look like organ pipes, while in the next level where he faces a Yakuza boss, one resembles a ninja and the other a samurai. Each one has different behaviors, and true to history, none of the Samurai would be caught dead with a shield. Suda’s talent for designing unique boss fights has returned as well. The first twists Alice, of Alice in Wonderland, into a horrifying bug-creature, yet she crawls the walls and ceiling of a room lined with candy, donuts, and teddy bears. The aforementioned Yakuza boss has a tiger tattoo that comes to life, and you and he end up fighting in a race. The first section is disappointingly short, but the resulting boss fight is tough and the following execution scene is surprisingly emotional and somber. Another interesting fight is against a train, which you fight across the level, then you fight the train itself in a boss battle that strongly reminded me of the classic Mega Man X “Wall/Face” boss.

Moving on to graphics, I have to say it’s quite something to see cel-shading return for a serious title on a current-gen system. The choice lends a surreal feeling to the world, feeding into the unusual story that gradually unfolds over the game’s 12 “Episodes.” Smoke effects that appear in an alley in the prelude may be the most convincingly realistic I’ve ever seen in a game, and in the level that takes place in Moscow, the heavy Russian snow is outright dazzling. From dream sequences to visiting a mansion on the Moon, the environments are lovingly crafted worlds to themselves, and of particular note is a piano staircase in the first level that plays the actual notes as you walk up. It’s a unique touch that I don’t think anyone but Suda51 would think of.

NSFW Gamer Review: Killer is Dead

All that said, I did call Suda51 the creator of flawed masterpieces for a reason. To begin, the main story only took me eight and a half hours to beat. Replay value is moderately strong with challenge missions and a new game plus mode, but your first run isn’t going to keep you occupied for an entire week. Also, on the way to fight the Yakuza boss, Mondo has to uncover five ninjas that are hiding throughout the environment. The only indication you have is his left arm beeping and vibrating, and the whole mechanic just makes for a tedious and boring time. I think I may have spent a good twenty minutes combing over the area when I could’ve been blitzing through waves on my way to the boss. Seriously guys, there’s already a game for people who want to waste time hunting squirrels. It’s called World of Warcraft.

Given the comparisons between Killer is Dead and Metal Gear Rising, I think I would love to see a collaboration between Suda51 and Hideo Kojima in the future. That way Suda51 could still bring his unique style to a game, but maybe iron out some of the wrinkles that often appear in his work with Kojima’s help.

NSFW Gamer Review: Killer is Dead

Altogether, Killer is Dead was enjoyable, and is a very valuable pickup at a $40 price drop, particularly for those gamers that are looking for something different. However, if you can net the Premium Edition with the included artbook and soundtrack, then the $60 package is more than enough for your money. For those who like to just blow through a campaign, you would be doing yourself a disservice not to rent it. Suda51 is a favorite here at NSFW Gamer, and every gamer should try his games at least once to find out why.

Game 3.5/5

NSFW Gamer Review: Killer is Dead

How lucky am I to have a section to specifically talk about the Gigolo Missions in Killer is Dead? Each of the game’s four Beauties, as they are called, are extremely well-modeled and curvaceous. During these missions, Mondo must gain confidence by donning his special Gigolo Glasses and getting an eyeful of what’s under their clothing while they’re looking away, and presenting her with a gift once his confidence is full. If Mondo is successful, this leads to a romance scene with her. If he’s not, he’ll end up having wine thrown in his face. Though the game doesn’t show full nudity, there’s something about this game of seduction that makes it work both ways – perhaps it’s the soft “Mmm’s” and “Aaah’s” as the meter builds. Before you begin each Gigolo Mission, the game also tells you her measurements. It’s a nice addition.

NSFW Gamer Review: Killer is Dead

They’re not just empty hump-me missions, though. As you progress with the beauties, you’ll unlock new modes for Mondo’s gun-arm, such as the Charge Cannon mentioned above. Don’t make the mistake I did of leaving the missions for last, you’ll want to unlock that room-clearing beast ASAP. Also included is a DLC code for additional costumes, one each for Vivienne and Mika. Mika rocks a sexy schoolgirl outfit, while Vivienne gets more of a domme-cop type wear. Each is salaciously enticing, and there are more to be found in-game through hidden challenges and secrets. Suda51 first showed he could deliver hot girls into the hands of gamers everywhere with Lollipop Chainsaw, and this time around he proves he’s not one to disappoint.

NSFW Gamer Review: Killer is Dead

Hotness 3.5/5

– Brad Cowan aka “DevilSugar”

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4 Responses to “NSFW Gamer Review: Killer is Dead”

  1. yaz says:

    the art work on the game is beautiful…i have never play killer7…but with the fight system compare to metal gear…i can see myself playing it especially because it has replay value…side missions etc :)

    ps…no offence but i thought devilsugar was girl…sorry 😡

  2. DevilSugar says:

    LOL! Better than my girl’s Mom. All she had to say was it sounds very homoerotic. I hope it’s not time for a new moniker. Glad you enjoyed the review.

  3. yaz says:

    lol…you can keep the name…it will keep people guessing 😀

  4. DevilSugar says:

    Could be fun! lol