By Joseph Leray
Details about “Killer is Dead,” a new action game from the developers of “No More Heroes,” are spilling out of the most recent issue of Famitsu Weekly. “It’s the first game in the ‘assassin’ series that Grasshopper Manufacture has worked on in a while,” wrote lead designer and industry gadabout Goichi Suda (translated by Polygon), noting that Killer is Dead “picks up where ’Killer7’ and ’No More Heroes’ left off.”
That’s perhaps most evident in “Killer is Dead’s” cel-shaded, futuristic art direction. “It’s not trying to regress into the past. We’re trying to make a game that we’d only be able to make right now, at this point in time,” Suda writes. “The result is seen in our unique high-contrast shading seen in the graphics, as well as the high speed wrestling-like action.”
“Killer is Dead” is set in the near-future, where cybernetic implants are common and cyborgs have been integrated into daily life. Mondo Zappa works for the Brian Execution Firm, a non-governmental assassination company run by a half-cyborg named Brian. Zappa is, of course, a killer for hire, with a penchant for dark suits and a taste for soft-boiled eggs.
“It’s the story of a man who doesn’t show himself much in the public world but still worms his way into society and mercilessly eliminates the evil dispersed in it,” Suda explains. “It’s a personal story, not one that’s conscious of the chaos going on in the real world at the moment, but you might get more than a taste of that in the end anyway.”
Zappa’s tools of the trade include a sword in his right hand, and a cybernetic implant in his left that can be converted into a gun or a drill depending on the situation. This implant will be upgraded over the course of the game, and it allows Zappa to absorb his enemies’ blood and “dark matter” — soak up enough viscera to unleash a one-hit kill “Adrenalin Burst.”
There’s a six-page preview of the game elsewhere in that same Famitsu issue, according to Kotaku, that reveals a few other details about the game: Victor is a green-skinned evil genius who wants to control the world, and the cast of characters is rounded out by Vivienne Squall, Zappa’s catsuit-wearing boss, and Mika Takekawa, his assistant.
Anyone who’s played “Killer7” or No More Heroes will see similar quirks in “Killer is Dead” — terrorism, hired killers, and blood have been recurring motifs over the course of Suda’s two-decades long career.
“Killer is Dead,” published by Kadokawa Games, is on track for a summer release in Japan, presumably available on home consoles. There’s no word on a North American release yet, but I’ll keep my fingers crossed.