Killer Is Dead First Look (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3)

The latest warped effort from Suda 51 is certainly weird, but also looks like it's well worth playing.

If there’s anyone who knows how to insert throw off-base elements in his game projects, it’s game director Suda51.  He’s worked on a number of oddball titles over the years including Killer 7, No More Heroes and its sequel, Shadows of the Damned and most recently the WB Games release Lollipop Chainsaw.  In each title, he’s managed to go off the deep end when it came to perverse storytelling and characters that are anything but normal  At the same time, he’s also delivered quality gameplay experiences that’s really hard to forget.

Killer Is Dead has all the markings of a Suda51 game, as it’s once again filled with strange characters (some packing a voluptuous amount of cleavage) while also bringing a awesome gameplay.  Considering that we aren’t too far off from getting it in our hands (it’s slated for release later this Summer by XSEED Games) that’s something we can look forward to.

The game takes place in the near future.  Touring the solar system and improving yourself with cybernetic add-ons are all the rage in this era.  You play as Mondo Zappa, a killer who specializes in hunting down assassins and other nasty criminals around the world using guns, drills and so on to get the job done.  It’s not a far cry from what Travis Touchdown had to do in the No More Heroes games, but there is an interesting emotional twist.

While completing his jobs, Mondo has to keep a low profile of sorts to protect himself and his beloved.  Who this girl is being kept secret and how she becomes involved with the enemies you’ll hunt after… Suda51 hasn’t spilled those beans yet.  But it’ll all be included in an experience that truly shows just what the game director is capable of, just as his prior efforts did.

Throughout the game, you won’t just be shooting guys as the game will also have melee combat with enemies, including the use of swords as well as wrestling moves, and an expansive combat system that can introduce you to even more moves and shenanigans.  Oh, and if you’re expecting these assassins to be a walk in the park, you better think again.  There’s a reason they’ve become some of the nastiest characters in this business.

For instance, there’s an enemy in the game that goes by the name of Victor.  Rather than carrying around something like a rocket launcher or a machine gun, he uses the power of music to his advantage, turning it into a weapon through sound waves.  He got this by cutting off the ears of a fellow music enthusiast and putting them into headphones.  Someone’s taking the Van Gogh route there!

Just when things couldn’t get any weirder with the battle, Victor somehow is able to double his size, using long limbs to swat away at Mondo before he can figure out just what the heck happened.  It’s here that you’ll have to rely on his killer techniques to strike back.  How you mix the combat style together is up to you, but you’ll need to stay on your toes in order to avoid becoming roadkill.  It also doesn’t hurt to have a pair of noise-canceling headphones handy, so you can avoid taking further damage from Victor’s audible assault.

Over-the-topness is definitely Killer is Dead’s strong suit, and like Suda 51’s games before it, it’s an acquired taste.  If you are looking for a straightforward action experience, you won’t find it here.  But if you want a full-on actioner with quirkiness galore and a bit of Bond flair (keep an eye out for the “Gigolo Mode” scenes where Mondo shows off his flirty side) then this will definitely suit you.

As for the origins of the title, Mondo says the “killer is dead” upon completing the assassination of his intended target, just as he does when he plunges his sword into the gullet of Victor to stop his noisy crusade once and for all.  Victor’s just the tip of the murderous iceberg, as other enemies (including the vicious alien being “Giant Head”) are waiting in the wings. 

It’s good to see Suda51 back in action with Killer Is Dead, and it should definitely be a cut above the rest when it arrives in late August for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

About the Author

Prima Games Staff

The staff at Prima Games.