Capcom / Grasshopper Manufacturer / NIS America (studio)
15 November 2018 (released)
26 November 2018
Suda 51 is a renowned game designer whose work includes such smash hits such as Black Knight Sword, No More Heroes and Lollipop Chainsaw. He’s also had his fair share of duds including “Let it Die”, but there’s no denying that Suda 51 has immense creativity with an eye for creating bizarre and highly original gameplay elements. One of his most renowned and yet also highly looked over games is Killer 7. This is something a Cult classic with a loyal fan base whose dreams have come true when a Remastered was finally announced. I’ve never played this before as I was far too young at the time of its release, but reviews Editor Patrick assures me it’s worth checking out.
So, is Killer 7 the underrated masterpiece of Suda 51?
So Killer 7 came out at a time when the fear of terrorism reached new highs. I mean, it never dies down but back in 2005, it seemed like people were losing their minds. So Suda 51 created a story were world peace is declared, only for it to be ruined by a new terrorist organisation made up of invisible suicide bombers, led by shady Government officials with our only hope being a master assassin who harbours 7 different personalities, all of which are highly trained killers.
Wow! Okay, this is a great concept right there. So the story is highly captivating from the get go and even with its more surreal elements, Killer 7 tackles some difficult subject matters, including terrorism, organ trafficking, paedophilia and Cultism. There are plenty of interesting characters, compelling performances and properly one of gaming’s best villains. I mean it, the dude who kills children is a real piece of **** and is one of the best bad guys in gaming I’ve seen.
The story for Killer 7 can go awry in certain stages and lose focus, only to put it towards tensions between the US and Japan (which really didn’t make a whole bunch of sense), there are still some great moments to keep you invested.
Killer 7 is a surreal concoction of multiple gameplay elements, taking in mechanics such as on the rails movement (restricted paths the player can follow) a 3rd person perspective in exploration yet a first person view for combat and a host of weird yet creative set pieces which vary in structure and tone. There are a lot of different styles at work here and it’s a blessing and a slight curse as well.
Movement being on the rails is a great way to ensure tension is always present when fighting the suicidal Heaven’s Smile. This could be one of the most intense games I’ve played since Outlast as you’re limited in your movement and running away is not always the best option. It’s very tactical in terms of combat and it works extremely well. But exploration suffers as environments are very linear even though they take place in massive locations such as Assessment Parks, hotels or even a town in the middle of the outskirts.
The limited movement also means that lateral elements a little shallow and puzzles tend to be a little simple in execution. But the saving grace here is the ability to change into one of the seven personas which have their own abilities and special moves. So Katae can use her blood to destroy certain barrier, Mask de Smith’s grenade launcher can destroy weak walls and Dan, well Dan just shoots people but he’s so cool doing it.
This also works well as each Smith as they own advantages in any situation and you can switch between them at any time. Con is very fast and has duel pistols, but one or two hits and he’s down. Dan is an all-rounder and Katea has a zoom feature on her heavy pistol, but is kind of slow in movement and reloading. The game does it best to ensure players use all personas in different stages but I will admit that there you’ll use certain Smiths more than others. Kevin I used all but twice in the game to sneak past certain obstacles and it’s a shame as he has the best ability in the game, turning invisible. Yet he lacks a personality and has rubbish weapons if I’m to be honest. Yet all the others are great and bring something to exploration, puzzle solving and even in boss battles.
Oh yeah, boss battles. These are (again if I’m honest) hit or miss, but all are very creative. I found that some of the bosses were extremely obscure in what you had to do and that any hints or tips on defeating these guys, could be easily missed. However the battles which centre on duelling your opponent were the best and my standout favourite is fighting what I can only describe as a fight between the Killer7 personas and the Power Rangers. It’s so freaking awesome!
In terms of the updates of this remaster, it’s fine. With its low poly count art style, rest assure it will run on any hardware. I do love the cell shaded visuals which still look incredible in certain cut scenes and smaller environments. But at times the lack of detail can make some areas look unimpressively bland and empty. Also, there are no subtitles, what the hell?! For deaf players this is bad but in certain cut scenes the background sounds can mask what is being said. This again is pretty annoying as you can miss some of the more important details of the story. Granted this only happened a couple of times, but still it was a little annoying. Otherwise this runs very smoothly, sounds great and even the anime cut scenes haven’t aged that badly either.
Killer 7 is a weird game and I mean that in all the best ways. While the lateral elements are overly simple, some mechanics restrict exploration and some features need tweaking (such as adding in subtitles), this is a great game. For an industry that craves originality, this is still mind blowing. While not everyone wells flawlessly, there are still some great ideas here for gameplay and the creativity behind the multiple personas, boss battles and enemy encounters is staggering. I can see why so many love this game and s shame not more people do.
I’d highly advise any gamer to check this out, even just to see one mad man’s passionate take on surrealistic gaming come out in all its purity.
++ Dynamic and original gameplay elements
+ Interesting story and characters
+ Love playing as 7 different Killers in one game
- Some visuals look dated
- Lateral elements and exploration are limited.
A Steam Review copy of Killer 7 was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review