Sharp like an fringe of a samurai sword.
Taking various cues from Hotline Miami, Katana Zero is a blisteringly quick slash-em-up with motion that’s an absolute adrenaline rush. Which is acceptable as a result of it’s largely a few neo-noir-inspired samurai who sticks a bunch of needles in his physique.
It wears its inspirations on the sleeves of its kimono, however Katana Zero refines the tried and true one-hit-kill formulation in a way that makes it feels contemporary, thrilling, and progressive in stunning methods.
Katana Zero places you answerable for a anonymous samurai murderer with the ability to govern time and see into the longer term. In a particularly intelligent and enjoyable framing of the motion, each degree is contextualized as being the planning of an assassination. So, as an alternative of your character dying, you’re advised “No… That gained’t work,” as your precognition rewinds to the beginning (full with old-timey VCR impact), supplying you with an opportunity to discover a answer that doesn’t finish in your demise. Each degree even ends with a safety digital camera recording of what “really” occurred, which serves not solely as a solution to see your second of triumph performed again, but in addition to subvert expectations in fascinating methods in a while.
Working as much as that second is a blast as a result of Katana Zero’s motion is fast-paced and empoweringly versatile. Like Hotline Miami, it’s one shot, one kill for each you and any enemy that isn’t a boss. Your character can slash in eight instructions, decelerate time, use a dodge roll to keep away from bullets, or replicate bullets again together with his sword. There’s a fantastic stream and really feel to your character’s motion due to small touches like how every sword swing provides you a slight increase of momentum, or how one can cancel out of any roll, and the way in which every kill provides a satisfying screen-shake and pause to the motion (each of which will be adjusted or disabled within the choices).
My favourite factor in regards to the motion of Katana Zero although is the slow-mo impact – particularly, how optionally available it’s. It by no means feels too sturdy; it’s on a reasonably strict cooldown, and since enemies will hear each time gunfire rings out, you’ll not often have time to remain protected lengthy sufficient for it to replenish. This places it in an ideal spot as a strong potential to get you thru a tricky state of affairs whereas nonetheless being restricted sufficient to maintain the motion fast.
As I obtained higher, I discovered myself attempting to wean myself off utilizing slow-mo as a lot as I might, as a result of storming right into a room stuffed with enemies, deflecting bullets, dodging shotgun blasts, and chopping up baddies all at full pace feels unimaginable. I additionally favored preserving slow-mo in my pocket so long as doable as a get-out-of-jail-free card.
Katana Zero’s story doesn’t fairly hit the excessive observe that its motion does, however it’s at the least carried by sturdy writing and some nice characters, reminiscent of your boss/therapist that guides you thru your traumatic previous whereas additionally offering you with the dossiers of individuals he desires lifeless, or a psychotic Russian named V. There’s additionally an progressive dialogue system that offers you distinctive choices relying on when within the dialog you resolve to interject and skip by way of NPC’s traces. For instance, should you simply wish to get a transfer on previous the receptionist on the entrance desk of a lodge stuffed with dudes that want a killin’, you’ll be able to rudely shut down her each try to speak to you, leading to her getting tremendous pissed. Or, should you wait ‘til she finishes each sentence you can be rewarded with new dialogue choices, reminiscent of one which lets you inform her the enjoyable lie of claiming you’re cosplaying as a personality from an anime. Both means, the ensuing dialogue is entertaining and effectively price a number of playthroughs to see how the eventualities play out.
That being stated, any deviations within the story because of my decisions felt largely superficial, so there have been instances when later dialogue choices felt wildly inconsistent with my earlier selections. The most important situation, although, is the truth that little or no is resolved by the point the credit roll. It feels prefer it’s deliberate to be the primary half in a sequence of video games, and I’m to see the place a possible sequel or DLC would possibly go from right here, however it’s laborious to not really feel just like the story of this primary chapter was all buildup and no payoff.
Katana Zero gained’t take greater than 4 to 6 hours to finish, however it’s a really tight 4 to 6 hours that cuts out any fluff. It by no means feels prefer it’s operating out of concepts, and each degree does a fantastic job of introducing small twists to its easy formulation, from a minecart degree to a bike chase sequence to 1 notably standout degree that’s a bit too spoilery to speak about right here.
It additionally helps that every little thing seems to be and sounds nice. The slick neon aesthetic and improbable sprite work go hand in hand with some legitimately spectacular 2D lighting results that give Katana Zero a singular visible type and persona. There’s additionally a becoming and improbable retro-electro soundtrack to associate with the motion.
Katana Zero’s time-bending samurai motion is the star of the present right here, however its distinctive presentation and entertaining dialogue go a good distance in supporting a plot that suffers from feeling prefer it’s saving its finest concepts for a sequel. As motion video games go, Katana Zero’s shorter size makes it a fast repair, and I’ll little doubt undergo withdrawal whereas I look ahead to the subsequent hit.