To maintain his standard of somewhat bizarre games, SUDA 51 (No More Heroes, Shadow of the Damned and Lollipop Chainsaw) is responsible for bringing us KILLER IS DEAD, a history of assassins, enemies with supernatural powers and beautiful women.
KILLER IS DEAD (KID) puts us in control of an American assassin called Mondo Zappa . He, who has no recollection of his past or how he got his cybernetic arm, is hired by the company “Bryan Execution Firm” for assassinations in different parts of the world. Although generally these requests are made by regular people with “unusual” problems, we see that each of them is always a direct or indirect victim of a mysterious energy that corrupts every individual who meets and, apparently, our protagonist has some connection with it.
To carry out these killings, has a katana called “Gekkou” (Moonlight) on his right arm and a cybernetic left arm called “Musselback” that can become gun or a drill. Bryan (the head of the agency) and our colleague Vivienne (who usually takes us to each mission), rarely give us any kind of support, but the one who constantly accompanies us is Mika, a teenager that Mondo decides to keep on personal care for some reason, and is also responsible for assisting us in case we run out of energy during combat.
The first thing we notice is that the title is completely designed with a cell shaded style, therefore the textures of the models and scenarios are simple and usually without much detail. With excessive use of dark colors, the game also features an unusual shading which can often feel exaggerated during cutscenes, but it always helps to contrast on bright colors and lights and to indicate the intentions of certain characters. By putting us in different parts of the world, the scenarios have characteristic details of each location and various types of enemies (also called Wires), each with different skills and attack patterns. Note that, as we move forward, the Wires of the different areas come together to increase the difficulty of the battles.
Fortunately, KID has the ability to select the Japanese language for dialogs but like many of the games that allow it, suffers from two classic problems: lipsync errors during cutscenes, and how intolerable are some voices (in this case, Mika). The music fulfills its role well providing of various rock tracks for the frenzy of the combats and some jazz pieces for the dialogues and transition screens.
KILLER IS DEAD is an action game in 3rd person with many of the usual mechanics and controls (dodge attacks for counters, keep combos for more damage and speed, etc..), but implements some changes in the way we improve the skills or restore our character’s life. Among the items left by the foes, Mondo can get diamonds to increase the level of HEALTH (HP), roses to increase the level of BLOOD (energy for special attacks), crystals of upgrades to improve his skills and sometimes regeneration items.
As we connect attacks and increase the number of hits of our combos, Mondo will be able to execute the enemies to get a bigger reward based on the 4 types of items mentioned above, as long as we are not interrupted in any way . Note that the upgrade system increases the levels of BLOOD and HEALTH automatically, but we are the ones that choose whether to improve the skills of Gekkou, Musselback or the passive skills of our character.
As we move forward in the game, we enable different types of side missions and, although most of them are to test and improve our skills (Challenge & Sub Missions), the so-called Gigolo Missions help us gain new modifications for Musselback. These missions, using Mondo addiction to women, give us the task to “appreciate” the attributes of each one and gain their affection through gifts, which obviously is not aimed to all audiences, but sticks to the attitude of the main character.
KILLER IS DEAD is not a game for everyone because it effectively meets SUDA 51′s bizarre standard . The story, though very original, sometimes it feels incomplete or little motivating for the lack of development the other characters have. Even with many side missions and challenges at our disposal (which extends its lifetime a little), it is unusual that the possibility of getting some subweapons depends on passing the Gigolo Missions, which are somewhat tedious if you are not related to this type of “fanservice “.
The review code used was provided by XSEED and the game is available since August 27th for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 (Retail / Digital).