Since I just talked about Suda 51 in a recent article, I won’t go into too much more detail about him in this review of his newest game, Killer is Dead for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. It is a shame people have such mixed opinions about his games, since they are usually the more stand-out games during the year they are released. Sure, they might be clunky, they might be unpolished, and they are probably not the best games released that year. However, you can’t deny that they are interesting experiences. They usually stand out in the landslide of games that are released every year, and Killer is Dead is definitely another unique game from Suda 51 and his company. Critics have been mixed about this game, either thinking it’s average, or just not caring for it. Gamers however, usually gravitate to his games and enjoy them more than the critics do, and that is, again, the case with this game. Let’s get started, shall we?
The story revolves around a guy with a cool name, Mondo Zappa, voiced by Patrick Seitz. He is an executioner who works for a company that takes on assignments of taking care of some bad guy or creature that is causing some havoc. The so-called company is run by a half-man, half-robot guy named Bryan Roses, voiced by Alem Sapp, who you would know as Big Bo from Binary Domain. Mondo is also assisted by a female named Vivienne Squall, voiced by Tara Platt who is his superior, and Mondo’s assistant, Mika Takekawa, voiced by Stephanie Sheh. While on a mission to the moon because you know, why not, he runs into the so-called God of the Moon named David, voiced by Liam O’Brien. After Mondo gets his butt handed to him by David, he sets off on a journey through multiple missions that are connected to a scheme of David wanting to rule the world, or, something of that matter. To be honest, I had no idea what the heck was going on, and that usually happens with a lot of Suda 51 games. I mean, some of his games have plots that are easier to follow than others, but man, in this game, he just threw logic and story out the window. You are either not going to care about the story, or find some hidden themes within the game’s confusing and out of control story. I have come upon a few links online to the deeper meanings of Killer is Dead, and that can make the overall story more interesting. I do like some of the characters and some of the bosses you fight, but this is one game where a lot of the characters are going to not be that developed.
The gameplay is in the form of a hack-and-slash action game, where you go through 12 missions killing multiple bad guys known as Wires and of course, the big bad boss of the level. The main weapon you will be using is Mondo’s katana. You will not have a Ninja Gaiden or God of War-style combo list with this weapon, which will make combos with the sword rather simple. So, what do you have to back up your sword attacks? Well, Mondo has a mechanical left arm that can turn into a freeze gun, machine gun, drill, or laser cannon. This army pocket knife of a left arm will help take down some of the tougher enemies, and solve some puzzles. Mondo also has a few other tricks up his sleeve, like a counter-attack that he uses after he dodges, quick instant-kills, and depending on how he finishes off an enemy, can gain different prizes. Outside of the main missions, you will have side missions that give you different tasks from previous levels, like run over enemies or kill all the bugs. The more well-known side missions however are the gigolo missions. Oh boy, where do I start with these missions? To get said sub-weapons in your left arm, you have to go out with different women and ogle at their bodies without them looking, and give them gifts. Yeah, that is it. You look at their bodies, give them gifts, and um, sleep with them. Yeah, I have real mixed thoughts about this, but I will talk about them later. Overall, it took me 6 hours to finish the entire game with doing only a few of the side missions and challenges brought to you by a buxom nurse gal. You can probably add an hour or so if you want to complete all of the challenges and side missions. The overall package content-wise isn’t too bad. It might be short, so with it being at $50, you could either get it now or wait until it drops down a few more dollars. It definitely helps that in combat, Mondo doesn’t have tank controls like Suda 51’s last game, Lollipop Chainsaw.
The graphical presentation is a section of Suda 51 games that is always memorable. I did an article about Killer is Dead, and I mentioned that it reminded me of Sin City, if it had been made in Japan. I wasn’t too far off, in a sense. It has a very different look than other action games, like God of War or Dante’s Inferno. It looks more like its sibling games, Killer 7 and No More Heroes, but better. The voice work, while corny, can be pretty good at times, with Mondo and some of the villains having the better lines. The voice acting can also be bad, depending on what character you listen to, but it’s solid all around. The music is also pretty rocking, with some great tunes playing while you are slicing and dicing through the levels. I especially love the theme that plays during the final boss, which is a classic piece that has been played during epic boss fights before, like in Asura’s Wrath and in Killer is Dead’s trailers that really fit the tone that the game offers. There is also this eerie atmosphere in certain areas of the game, like the dream sequences and the first mission you take on that are just creepy. I was always on my feet, in case something was about to pop out at me.
So, what is wrong with Killer is Dead? To me, the first problem is with the gigolo missions. They are rather offensive in a few ways. I know not everyone is going to find these missions super offensive, but they do have problems. The first part of this problem is with the females you go out with. They have no character, and are there to basically be bonked in bed. Thankfully, you get stuff after these missions from sub-weapons to other items, or else I would have been much harsher on this issue. You don’t really need to beat the game by doing these missions, but it doesn’t hurt to get the extra firepower. I also wish they would have developed the female character/dates a little more since they are so bland. They could have done something like the Bioware games, the Yakuza series, or The Witcher games where you have to talk with the pretty woman and bond with them to get into bed, and not just flat out look at their bodies. It makes Mondo look like a total creep when he stares at them. I also wish the story made more sense. Sure, I love the absurdity of it all, from fighting a giant alien to a demonic train, but I should have cared when Mondo’s boss gets hurt badly or when he has to fight someone close to him, but I don’t. It’s quite the shame because I think Suda 51 has some potential in storytelling, but it sure as heck isn’t in this game. This is just a minor gripe, but why can’t I jump? Although it doesn’t really detract from the overall experience, it feels weird to play an action game and not be able to jump. I also found the challenges to be a bit much at times, but they do want you to get good at the combat system since when you do, it’s pretty fun.
I would say this is probably one of Suda 51’s best games, to be honest. It might not be better than God of War Ascension or The Wonderful 101, but it’s a pretty concrete action game. Rent it if you are curious, or buy it if you are a fan of Suda 51 games. It’s $50 for right now, but if you can get it for that price or cheaper, than go ahead. It’s a shame that Suda 51 games are already a niche series of games, but who knows, maybe people will be more open to trying out these games. If you have some time for yourself and are in the mood to slice and dice something, check out Killer is Dead.
This game gets a 7 out of 10.