Killer is Dead is the next game from acclaimed director, Goichi Suda, aka Suda 51. Mondo, the protagonist, and his assistant, Mika, work for an assassin agency run by Bryan and his partner Vivienne. Everyone has their quirks and charms and at times, they’re fascinating, but ultimately the characters, from the heroes to the villains, remain flat. The narrative can’t decide if it wants to be serious, or whacky. The plot is also nonsensical, though it wraps up somewhat nicely toward the end. As inconsistent as the story is, its at least got flair.
At is core, Killer is Dead is a hack and slash, similar to Suda’s game last year, Lollipop Chainsaw. It doesn’t hold a candle to others in the genre like Devil May Cry, but what it lacks in combo intricacy, it makes up for with style. The brilliance of the combat is dodging, which triggers a sort of bullet time effect where Mondo can slash enemies with ease. The motion is cool, effective, and it never gets old. Mondo also has a gun arm, which can morph into four different types like a freeze ray, or drill. Bosses, as is Suda’s knack, are great, though some lack real strategy. Aside from the twelve story missions, there are challenges and even Gigolo Missions where Mondo can seduce women for collectables. It’s all a bit strange, but it’s fun if not somewhat perverted.
While some parts of KID look dated, the cel-shaded design and grainy film effect make up for that. Loads are fine, and the screen does occasionally tear from quick movements, but it’s good for the most part. The soundtrack is some of Akira Yamaoka’s, composer of Silent Hill, best work ranging from tense piano tracks to rocking beats. It’s a bit on the short side, even with the added extras, but for what it is, it’s a great time.
Killer is Dead is probably Suda’s most sound action game. What it lacks in an engaging story and length, it makes up for with an excellent soundtrack, amazing art style, and ravenous gameplay. It’s not going to blow any minds, but for what it’s worth, it’s a good game, if not an amazing Suda benchmark.
Score: 3/5 Stars
Special Notes: This article was originally published on September 5, 2013 via my Examiner account before the website shut down.