Suda 51 has brought gamers some very interesting games, often bolstered by unique gameplay. Killer7 sported striking visuals and simplistic controls while No More Heroes cel shaded presentation made good use of the Wii’s graphical shortcomings and bizarre controller. Developer Grasshopper Manufacture designed Killer is Dead to play on the big consoles: XBox 360 and Playstation 3. Will the spiritual successor to No More Heroes make a killing, or should it have stayed in Nintendo’s playground?
First Day at the New Job
We meet our protagonist, Mondo, on an auspicious day: he was just accepted for an executioner’s position at The Bryan Execution Firm. The firm specializes in killing assassins, monsters, and moon men. Mondo, and his over-enthusiastic assistant, Mika, begin their killing careers by dispatching a monster in a surreal Lewis Carroll nightmare house. This level serves as a tutorial for players, who’ll soon learn that their controller’s X-Button is about to become their best friend for the game's duration.
Wandering Eye Syndrome
Playing Killer is Dead could cause a condition in players known as Wandering Eye Syndrome. A combination of cel-shade fatigue and attempting to make sense of an indecipherable plot most often causes this condition. Wandering Eye Syndrome’s main symptom is eyeing one’s game library for something more interesting to play while blowing through Killer is Dead on autopilot. I often found myself not even paying attention to the screen, just repeatedly mashing the X-Button while watching an episode of Metalocalypse on the laptop or reading a cookbook for dinner ideas.
A good example of Wandering Eye Syndrome happened to me on the game’s Alice level. Mondo and I just mashed the X-Button many times, finally making our way upstairs to Alice, only to find that Keith David just gave me the awesome Dubsteb Gun, so I was on my way back to Steelport to give those alien bastards a taste of Dubstep. Oops, I somehow replaced the Killer is Dead disc with Saints Row IV right in the middle of a boss fight. That’s weird!
On another level, I travelled to The Moon to defeat some guy named David. I wasn’t going to get paid for this assassination, but I was going to receive a kiss from a Moon Chick as payment. I skillfully guided the over-sexed Mondo through the Moon Fortress, pressing the X-Button many times in the process, dispatching hordes of baddies. I finally reached the throne room, where Moon Man David was waiting in full regal regalia (see what I did there?). I was able to defeat David by repeatedly mashing the X-Button and cornering to the inside, in an attempt to slow him down on the turns, knowing that my Oldsmobile would have the advantage on Road Atlanta’s back straight. What the hell? I did it again. Nevermind, that was Forza 4. Apparently, my Wandering Eye Syndrome affects my ability to effectively communicate the shallowness of Killer is Dead’s fighting mechanics and my disdain for the staggering heaps of nonsense randomly used as building blocks for a sham of a plot.
A Surreal Experience
Everything from the weapons, the enthusiastic sidekick stereotypes pulled straight from Initial D, and the woefully skewed interpretation of the American assassination industry in Killer is Dead screams “look at me...I’m a Japanese action game!” The enemies are identical, faceless goons, NPC’s are either cliches of cliches or motivationally muddled, and the fighting mechanics are stupidly nonexistent for a fighting game. Players guide Mondo from room to room, repetitively dispatch a bunch of guys with the X-Button, and move on to the next room. I give it points for attempting graphical originality, but I hate looking at it, I hate everyone in it, and I hate the fact that I’m going to be reminded of this game every single time I look back through my game history.
Killer is Dead scored very highly with Japanese reviewers, even landing some perfect scores. It didn’t do nearly as well at 2Old2Play, where I can only recommend renting this title, but only if you must. It’s surreal, but not very fun...kind of like watching Monty Python with the volume off.