Let’s just get this out of the way right from the get go: Killer is Dead is probably one of the more unusual titles that I’ve played at E3. And why wouldn’t it be? The game is another product of the minds of Suda 51 and Grasshopper Manufacture. Yet, it still found ways to push the envelope even further.
While not connected in any way from a story standpoint, Killer is Dead is another assassin game following in the footsteps of Killer 7 and No More Heroes. This time, you play as Mondo Zappa, a man who takes jobs in the form of executing criminals and other assassins around the world. The game is also set in the future, so Mondo and other characters that he encounters are all enhanced with cybernetic upgrades, something that plays into the gameplay as well.
Like No More Heroes before it, Killer is Dead is very stylized hack-and-slash action game. Don’t let the cel-shaded visuals fool you; the action gets very messy with enemies often losing limbs in the midst of combat, leaving sprays of crimson behind. The game has more depth to its combat than past titles, feeling a lot closer in spirit to titles like DmC or Bayonetta. In addition to normal sword strikes, Mondo can use his cybernetic arm to transform into various sub-weapons, such as a gun or a drill. During battle, an Adrenaline meter will build up, changing the screen into different tripped up colors and allowing the player to work in more powerful strikes. The demo version had a female character by the name of Vivienne Squall show up to lend cover fire by sprouting several arms, each one packing heat. However, this came about as an event in the story, rather than something you can control. Another character, Mika, will assist Mondo in battle if he falls by running up to his collapsed body and beating on his chest in order to resuscitate him.
And speaking of female characters, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the addition of the Gigolo missions that I had a chance to participate in. In one particular mission, I found myself looking through the eyes of Mondo at a female that he had been talking with at the bar. On the lower left corner is a meter in the shape of a head with the end goal being to fill it with blood. How does one do this? By donning x-ray glasses and looking at the woman’s breasts (the glasses can see through her clothes). However, you have to do so without the woman knowing that you’re looking or she’ll get creeped out. Once the meter is maxed, you can opt to give her a gift which then leads to her going home with you and doing… stuff. Then she’ll give you an item. And money.
Despite the awkwardness of having to stare at cartoony breasts while playing a video game at a conference filled with confused onlookers, I had a great time with what I’ve played so far. The combat mechanics seem fleshed out, finishing blows are satisfying, and the game has an interesting premise. Hopefully the final game can deliver on all of the promise. Killer is Dead releases August 27, 2013 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.