If there's anything you can count on Suda51 and his team at Grasshopper Manufacture to deliver, it's an interesting game. Most of the time, they're heavily flawed, and Killer is Dead is no different. After seeing the E3 demo for it, I was definitely interested in checking it out, but unfortunately, I didn't much like what I played.
Killer is Dead centers around Mondo Zappa, an assassin with the greatest name in video game protagonist history. Sporting a business suit, katana and a cybernetic arm that can transform into various sub weapons, he's a pretty slickly designed character. The visual style of Killer is Dead is reminiscent of Killer7, another (semi-unrelated) game from Grasshopper Manufacture back in the PS2 days, and is easily the standout part of the game for me.
Much like Killer7 and the No More Heroes series, Killer is Dead centers around assassinating various targets for clients who have been wronged. Each mission takes place in increasingly bizarre locations, such as an M.C. Escher-esque house mashed up with Alice in Wonderland visuals, or even the Dark Side of the Moon.
Though cool, the levels themselves are rather pedestrian in practice. You'll enter a room, kill several enemies, then a door will open and send you to the next kill chamber where the exits will all be locked until you kill everything inside. You'll use a combination of katana combos and gun attacks to slash enemies to pieces, and well-timed dodges/parries unlock powerful counterattacks and one-hit kills. Slaughter all of the fodder and you'll get to the bosses, which offer a much more significant challenge.
While the premise, levels and main character are all dripping with cool factor, Killer is Dead is rife with issues. First and foremost, there is an absolutely unacceptable amount of screen tearing whenever there's action or you move the camera around quickly. Seriously, it looks like the screen is tearing itself apart in giant, chunky artifacts. Couple this with a camera that manages to always point in the wrong direction, and combat can become a confusing mess.
I also have to take issue with the "gigolo" missions, where you travel to different parts of the world and meet women. The goal of these missions is to creepily gawk at the women when they're not paying attention to you to fill up a meter, which allows you to give them a present. I'm not normally one to cry moral outrage at stuff like this, but it's pretty creepy. Thankfully, they're optional, but there are achievements tied to conquering each woman's mission.
That nonsense aside, I'm pretty disappointed with Killer is Dead. I always look forward to what comes out of Suda51/Grasshopper Manufacture, but all of the Mondo Zappas in the world aren't cool enough to overcome its issues.