Killer is Dead Review

6 Overall Score
Gameplay: 8/10
Story: 5/10
Replayability: 3/10

Addictive combat | Unique graphic style | Quirky Suda51 humor

Short story mode | Flat characters | Little replayability | Gigolo missions may offend

Suda51 and his development team, Grasshopper Manufacture, are perhaps best known for cult classics such as Killer7 and the No More Heroes series. Filled with plenty of over-the-top gore and a dose of dark humor, these games offer a unique experience in an industry of cookie-cutter games. Grasshopper’s latest endeavor, titled “Killer is Dead,” doesn’t disappoint, either.

In this action-packed adventure, you play as Mondo, a mysterious red-eyed man with a machine welded to his arm. He’s snagged a job as an assassin with a government agency, and it’s his job to take out an army of strange creatures called Wires. These monsters are visually disturbing and a thrill to kill. True to their name, the beasts’ bodies are made of twisted black wires and other machinery. It’s thought that these Wires come from something called “Malice” that emanates from the moon.

kid3Doesn’t make any sense, you say? No, it doesn’t. In fact, pretty much nothing about the story in “Killer is Dead” makes a bit of sense. The only thing you know is that each mission is a contract given to you by a client. Your duty is to execute a target at the end of each level. As the story progresses, you’ll start learning more about Mondo’s past and uncovering his darkest memories. Your ultimate goal is to uncover the true reason for the Wire invasion and put an end to it. The story is told in brief cutscenes that just keep getting stranger. Instead of answering questions, really, all they serve to do is raise more and confuse the player further.

Thankfully, you don’t need to understand a thing to enjoy the action. The combat is by far the best thing about Killer is Dead. It’s fluid and wild, and you just might find yourself replaying missions to get more of it. Mondo’s main weapon is a razor-sharp sword which he swings with deadly efficiency. It cleaves off heads and other body parts like a knife slices through butter. You also start the game with your handy machine arm, called “Musselback.” The arm, much like the iconic Mega Man’s, fires energy bullets at foes. Later in the game, you can earn new attachments that let your arm turn into a drill or fire electricity. Defeated Wires drop blood, which is used for special attacks, and moon crystals, which you’ll use to upgrade Mondo’s abilities. By upgrading, yokidu’ll get more powerful sword attacks, move faster, and learn how to heal yourself with the blood you collect.

The combat alone makes this game worth a buy, but don’t go in expecting a lengthy campaign. I clocked in at just under nine hours, and that’s to beat the final boss plus many of the extra missions. Bonus missions can keep you occupied for a bit longer. For example, you’ll find a nurse, named Scarlett, hidden in each level. If you find her, she’ll open a challenge mission for you in her arena. Beating all of these is no picnic, even on easy mode.

Gigolo missions are also available, but their place in the game is truly baffling. In these missions, you must court one of two girls by giving her gifts she likes. In order to do that, though, you’ll need to fill up Mondo’s Guts meter by staring at the woman’s (clothed) private areas. Get caught staring, though, and the girl will give Mondo the slap he deserves and kick him out of the date. If you help Mondo succeed, he’ll eventually bed the woman and earn a reward, such as new arm attachment or moon crystals. Most women, and possibly plenty of men, will find these missions offensive and sexist. Unfortunately, they are the only way you’ll get those arm attachments, and they do make the game a bit easier. The missions are completely optional, however, so you can avoid them altogether if you find them offensive.

This game, like all of Suda51’s others, features a unique cell-shaded graphic style that pops off the screen. Bold, bright colors dot the landscape–and most of all, expect to see plenty of red. When Mondo executes a special kill, the screen turns black and white, allowing you to better see the bright-red blood as it gushes across the screen. The level design itself is nothing special, but you’ll be too busy slaughtering Wires to care. Environments are varied. One level sees Mondo fighting Wires on a possessed train that’s on its way to destroy Moscow in Russia. In another, a scientist transforms into a blubbering giant, and Mondo must scale a skyscraper to meet him head to head. The game’s theme may be dark and serious, but the craziness and humor is enough to keep things light most of the time.

Buy, rent, or pass?

If you’re looking for a game that reminds you of Metal Gear Rising or Devil May Cry, you’ll enjoy Killer is Dead. As long as you don’t expect an epic tale, you’ll find that shredding Wires to pieces makes for some of the most satisfying combat in the genre. The game is quite short, but its quirkiness should help it earn a spot in your library. Rent it for a quick story play through, or buy it if you’re a Suda51 / Grasshopper fan. You can’t go wrong either way.

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GAME NAME: Killer is Dead

DEVELOPER(S): Grasshopper Manufacture

PUBLISHER(S): Xseed Games

PLATFORM(S): PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

GENRE(S): Action, hack-and-slash

RELEASE DATE(S): August 27th, 2013


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