Killer is Dead Review

Killer is Dead Featured

Killer Is Dead Cover

Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture
Publisher: XSEED Games
Platform: 360, PS3

Oh, Killer is Dead, you showed so much promise. It seems with every new Goichi Suda (Suda 51) game I am left wanting more than I get. Or maybe, my expectations are far too high. Perhaps I’m inadvertently a part of the “everything new sucks” club. It’s hard to know why games helmed with his name continue to disappoint me but they do. So let’s talk about why!

Killer is Dead Featured

Killer is Dead is a game featuring a hired killer by the name of Mondo Zappa. Despite his snazzy name and outfit, he isn’t a particularly compelling character. In any case, the player takes him through the various missions which tend to end in boss fights to kill the target. Targets, too, are often serious “characters”. If nothing else, Suda 51 seems to love creating very memorable characters despite short screen time.

There are a handful of main story missions that each have their own creative levels to explore. The game begins with an Alice in Wonderland styled home and from there goes mostly downhill. Because they started off with such a “weird” location, it is hard for any other stages to be nearly as compelling (although a few manage).


Of course, even if the levels weren’t so visually interesting that could be ignored due to excellent gameplay. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem Killer is Dead offers that either. Grasshopper Manufacture games seem to often have hard/dull gameplay mechanics. Some have theorized this is a purposeful part of design on Suda’s part, but I don’t really fall into that camp. Personally, I dug Killer7 despite many hating the controls. But there was no love felt when playing this game.

It’s easy to see something is wrong when I found myself thinking “do I have to play more of Killer is Dead?” Yes, I did, well to write this. But if there had been no “work” involved then it would have been easy to quit. The controls actually work fine, it’s just that there’s no joy in hammering off combos on enemies and slicing limbs. Similarly, boss battles all have their specific tricks and the majority of those aren’t tons of fun either. I will admit to seriously enjoying a few of their designs though.

Killer is Dead Screenshot 2

Even the visual style seemed a bit too much. Suda is known best for his use of extreme style in games. Sometimes it works better than others and I think this title fails to really achieve that high level of style as some others. It has a cell shaded-ish look down, sure, but something about it is either too detailed or muddled. The screen is kind of messy with the design at times and it wasn’t something particularly enjoyable. Some may dig it, and that’s fine too, it just seemed too much for me.

It’s disappointing that Killer is Dead does so much to make itself stand out but then offers a completely uninteresting game. The story too seems hinged on a weird place between trying to appeal to Western players with Japanese flair. Except, in this case, the so-called “Japanese flair” is just ridiculous storytelling. Sure, games like Killer7 (can you tell this is my favorite Suda game?) offered some ridiculous stuff, but alongside an intense geopolitical narrative. None of that sort of writing seems to be left in Suda as he pursues the audience he gained with No More Heroes. Apparently, I’m not a part of that audience and that’s the main reason why none of his recent games are appealing to me.

Score: 2

2 out of 5 alpacas

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