Killer Is Dead is like Robin Thicke’s breakout hit “Blurred Lines”. It’s beyond polarizing. Some gamers will find it sexist, childish, and impossible to follow. While others will just accept it for what it is — a silly self-aware game with a ridiculous story, and average, but enjoyable gameplay.
The Story – A reputable execution agency’s newest recruit, Mondo Zappa, takes center stage as he stalks and beheads a wide variety of heinous criminals all across the world (and even, perhaps, outside of it). As he settles into his new job, he also comes to terms with his own inner demons, balancing his talent for dispensing swift and brutal justice with his fleeting memories of a traumatic past, and peppering it all with his many sensual conquests.
Be he a killer, a lover or a gigolo, his many tales of passion and brutality begin with his appointment at Bryan´s Executioner Office. A whole world of pain and pleasure awaits, and there’s no telling where it might take him next…
Title: Killer Is Dead
Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture
Platform: PS3/Xbox 360
Release Date: 8/26/13
- Monster of the Week – Killer Is Dead‘s story is broken down into episodes, and it makes the game feel like it was made for TV. I love shows like CSI, Fringe, Elementary, etc. All of these shows belong to the procedural genre. A problem (or a monster/villain of the week) is introduced, and solved in the same episode. You can pick one of these shows up in the middle of the season and still be able to follow the plot. That’s because it changes almost every week. These shows still reward long time viewers, though. Because most of them also feature a larger story arc. KiD has a big bad, and a main storyline, but most of its episodes are standalone stories.
- Arcadey Goodness –KiD‘s gameplay won’t take home any awards. It can’t stand up against something like DmC or MGR. It’s a solid arcade brawler, nothing more, nothing less. Most gamers will be able to button mash their way through the game. But you will be rewarded if you learn the combos, evade attacks, and upgrade your weapons. Just don’t expect Mondo to turn into Dante or Bayonetta.
- Soundtrack – The music complements the visuals perfectly. The main menu music is hunting, yet calming, and the boss music is some of the best around.
- Heavy Shadows – The graphics are cell-shaded, but heavy on the shadows. This gives the game a graphic novel aesthetic. The heavy shadows are counterbalanced with neon colors. these two things give the game a unique look, it’s dark and colorful at the same time.
- Self-Aware – Mondo knows he’s inside of a video game, and he’ll occasionally break the 4th wall. This gets annoying if done ad nausea (Deadpool), but he only does it a few times and it’s never overly cheesy.
- Gigolo Missions – When Mondo isn’t killing monsters he’s in bars picking up women. This is where the gigolo missions come in to play. Mondo must sweet talk a member of the opposite sex in to coming home with him. This is accomplished by looking them in the eyes while they’re talking, checking them out while their not looking, and showering them with gifts once their meter fills up. It’s dumb, but I found this mode strangely addictive. The game also features other extra missions like time trials, races, and more.
- Camera – The camera can get wonky at times. Especially during boss fights.
- You Again? – You’ll be facing off against the same basic enemies over, and over again. This would be fine if they were fun to fight, but most of them have to be softened up, and then finished. This is okay at first, but it quickly becomes a chore. “Sigh, why can’t I slice through this guy in one hit? Now I have to block his predictable moves for two minutes — great!”
- Broken Buttons, and Thumbs – I normally don’t like spoiling boss battles, but I’ll spoil this one. You fight a guy name David, twice, and one point you have to spam the square button. This QTE is frustrating because you have to press square so fast that you’ll hurt your thumb in the process. And there’s also a good chance that you’ll mess up your controller. This is a lame way to add difficulty to an otherwise easy boss battle. The timing is so bad that I had to enlist the help of my button mashing nephew to get past these parts. My fingers just couldn’t move fast enough — I’ve never encountered such a frustrating QTE in a video game.
- Style Over Substance – I enjoyed KiD’s gameplay, but once again Grasshopper Manufacture favors style over substance. They have some great ideas, but they’re still novices when it comes to game design. Their games are far from terrible, but once you strip away the b-movie goodness, you’re left with a handful of average action games.
Killer Is Dead will appeal to Grasshopper Manufacture’s dedicated fan base, but mainstream gamers will be left wanting more. I enjoyed this game, but I loved No More Heroes, Killer 7, and Lollipop Chainsaw so I knew what I was signing up for. I’m not ashamed to admit that style goes a long way with me. Pick this up if you enjoyed any of the previously mentioned games. Otherwise you may want to spend your money elsewhere.
Very Good – This game flirts with greatness, but ultimately falls short. Still it’s highly entertaining and worth a look.