Jun 12, 2013

Killer Is Dead: Suda51's Upcoming Masterpiece

There are few game developers that get me as excited as Suda51/Grasshopper Manufacture, and with the upcoming release of Killer Is Dead, I made certain to make it one of the first games to get my hands on during E3. A substance of pure style oozes from every corner and with an evolution of the studio's traditional style of combat, Grasshopper Manufacture may have finally stumbled upon perfection.

I don't want to go too overboard with praise, but the time I spent with Killer Is Dead absolutely blew my expectations out of the water. When approaching a Suda51 game I generally remind myself that the narrative is the driving force of the game, whereas the gameplay becomes a secondary form of entertainment. It's not that the games aren't fun (in fact Killer7 has some of my favorite gameplay mechanics to date), it's the fact that the writing has so much 'oomf' that it's hard to pay attention to anything else.

As of now, Killer Is Dead has completely changed my approach to a Suda51 title, providing a gameplay experience that is equally as engaging as the game's narrative.

In the past few months, Grasshopper Manufacture has been releasing some enticing trailers, teasing a storyline that's as deep and developed as the cult-favorite, Killer7. While my hype for a return to form began to grow, I wasn't expecting combat to much better than that of No More Heroes. I couldn't have been more wrong.

Killer Is Dead has refined the studio's typical formula for combat and has created a more fluid and combo-driven mechanic that I imagine myself becoming heavily invested in. Each swing has heft, and by dodging and parrying incoming attacks, you begin to link together some serious combos that end in some pretty badass finishing moves.

To spice things up, during mid-fight Mondo Zappa can quickly switch to his cybernetic gun-arm, shooting enemies from afar while quickly switching back to his sword in order to counter incoming enemies. Without context, the combat sounds similar to the likes of Devil May Cry or Bayonetta, but I found the combat far less floaty and more grounded forcing players to choose their battle locations wisely.

One of the things that had worried me pre-E3, was the possibility of the game's style getting in the way of the gameplay. During some of the trailers I found myself getting lost in the sheer insanity of it all, but as I was playing I was quickly relieved that this was not the case. The game is absolutely stunning, the art direction is everything I have come to expect and more, providing a cast of amazing enemies and characters.

When all is said and done, the game is incredible and it might finally be the studio's title to break into a broader demographic, providing gameplay that is fun and fluid with enough action to make Bruce Willis blush. While the game isn't set to be released til August, my ten minutes of game time were enough to completely sell me on the game. At this point,  Killer Is Dead could possibly be the studio's magnum opus.

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