Killer Is Dead, the newest game from Grasshopper Manufacture and writer Suda51, was released in North America on August 27th last year. I happened to see the Collector's Edition on sale at GameStop a couple days ago and, based on how much fun I had with previous game Lollipop Chainsaw, I decided "Why not?" So this might not be the freshest, most relevant topic of conversation.
However, going into it, I knew very little of what to expect of Killer Is Dead other than it being a very odd game. I had no way of knowing how odd. Trying to describe the game using regular logic seems like a fool's errand. In fact, when a roommate asked me to describe what I was playing, I probably would have been lost if it weren't for the details included in the instruction manual and the Art Book that was included with the Collector's Edition. That being said, there are several thoughts that stood out while playing.
Keep in mind, I've only experienced the first couple hours or so of game play, stopping right after taking down the second major boss battle.
Spoilers ahead for first couple hours of game.
1) The main protagonist, the playable character, is named Mondo Zappa. Let's take a moment to let that soak in. Who names their kid Mondo Zappa? But wait! This is a game set in a futuristic science-fiction universe where human beings regularly commute from the Earth to the Moon. Mondo Zappa's a pretty sci-fi name, right? So maybe that type of naming is common in this society. Let's take a look at the name of some of the other characters surrounding Mondo: David, Alice, Bryan, Natalia, Betty , , , Nope. Mondo's a weird name.
2) You unlock achievements for completing the first couple "episodes." Now, these first couple episodes are hardly missions. They're barely tutorials. Basically, they're barely interactive cut scenes. First, you take down a kidnapper by using one stick to walk and the other to rotate the camera, automatically deflecting bullets with your katana and then pressing some onscreen prompts. Then, you take out an assassin you're a replacement for by using basic attacks and counters on some easy mooks before following some more onscreen prompts. Another recent hack-n-slash, the Deadpool game, also started by giving away some easy achievements, but that was part of the Deadpool sense of humor and Deadpool himself breaks the fourth wall to say, "Oh. It's gonna be one of those games." Although, Killer Is Dead does break the fourth wall a little bit, I don't think the wink's implied like in Deadpool. Oh. It's gonna be one of those games.
3) At this point, I've already given up on this game's story making any sense, but I would like to understand the logic behind these "Wires", or basic enemy types. First you're fighting what look like giant, evil cousins of your word processor's paper clip guy on steroids, then later you're fighting weird suits of armor and cacodemons. What are these things, and what's their motivation that they're always standing between you and your assassination target?
4) This incredibly creepy "artist" who becomes Mondo's first client is totally Sander Cohen from BioShock.
5) At least once every mission, Mondo has to namedrop the title. "Killer is dead." I've come up with two theories as to why this is: a) The video game was designed to be played in concordance with a drinking game. One of the rules; every time a character mentions the title, take a shot. b) The game is anticipating the player's question "wtf am I playing?"
6) When the Sander Cohen expy vanishes, presumably back to Rapture where he belongs, the main characters look at each other as if they're becoming just as weirded out by the game as the player is.
7) Besides the assassination missions, there's something called "gigolo missions", in which Mondo must woo women by copping glances at their boobies when they're not locking eye contact with him until he finally feels motivated enough to give them gifts such as a flower or a pack of chewing gum in a huge box with an overly dramatic flourish repeatedly until they let him get in their pants. Here's the thing: After the date, the same mission debrief screen from after the assassination missions pops up, complete with Mondo signing his signature on the line. So, does that mean the same quasi-government agency handling Mondo's executions is paying him to wine-and-dine-and-ogle these women and making him fill out paperwork afterwards to let them know how well the date went?
8) A woman claiming she owns the moon or something comes to Mondo's agency, stating some creep took over her family's estate and claimed the moon, or something. Mondo's employer (who I'm pretty sure is straight up supposed to be Samuel L. Jackson, BTW) says he has no jurisdiction there and the mission is too dangerous to take on for any amount of money and . . . Mondo, being a sucker and always doing whatever it takes to get in a woman's pants, says he'll do it for a kiss. Sucker. So, is this a government agency, a private security force, an office where gigolos just hang out, or what? Shouldn't this girl just be able to go to the police, say some creepy guy in bondage gear broke into her house, and have them escort him off the property? Are the police obsolete because of this Department of Executions? If so, shouldn't they do the job regardless of where it is and whether or not the client is willing to kiss their newest hitman?
9) The second boss fight stops dead not once but twice to make the player mash the "X" button as fast and hard as physically possible for any human being ever. If the player fails, the boss, in his creepy golden fetish gear, takes off half of Mondo's health. Until that button is satisfactorily mashed, the fight will go on, and on, and on. I hate this "Press 'X' not to die" trope in modern video games. "Mash 'X' not to die repeatedly" is even worse. There's a special circle of Hell reserved for whoever invented Quick Time Events in video games. Even lower than the circle in which the inventors of sewer levels and escort missions reside/will reside.
10) I'm not above some fan service. I play the Dead or Alive games. But I think I'd actually prefer a conversation tree to trying to steal furtive glances at a woman's breasts, butt, or legs when she ain't lookin'. Anything to make that redheaded vampiress stop telling me how thirsty she is while refusing to break eye contact. Also, moving the camera away for a second to ogle their naughty bits when they finally flinch almost feels like a chore. Plus, the girls you ogle aren't exactly wearing skimpy bikinis like the DOA girls. They're pretty conservatively dressed (with the exception of sexy nurse Scarlett, pictured above, who you have to impress through violence rather than gifts and ogling), so there's not all that much to get an eyeful of. This dating's kind of a drag.
11) Inflation is terrible in this universe. Sure, I was informed once I purchased an item from the office gift shop that the price would go up. But then I paid $10 for a pack of gum. Which would be $.75 anywhere else and definitely not a gift to give a beautiful woman you're nervous about dating. After I buy the $10 gum and give it to Natalia to try to get in her pants, the price goes up . . . to $10,009.
12) Mondo needs to stop wasting his time with all these hos he's dating and just marry his sidekick Mika. Sure, she's kind of scatter-brained, whiny, and annoying. But she's also cute as a button, has been living with Mondo for some time, cooks a perfect soft-boiled egg (which is Mondo's favorite food and, I know this from experience, not as easy to cook as you woudl think), is constantly waiting on the sidelines with a defibrillator for when Mondo almost croaks, brings him back from the brink constantly in the course of a boss battle, and always insists on coming along on Mondo's missions. If that's not love, I don't know what is. That's Grade A wifey material right there.
Now, I can't stop thinking about this game, and I definitely want to keep playing. I'm not saying it's bad by any means. It's also too early in the game for me to recommend it to anyone. All I'm saying is it's really freaking weird.