Welcome to Easter Eggs, where the TA Team shines the spotlight on games that many gamers might have missed, perhaps hidden away behind the millionth copy of Call of Duty or FIFA. Much like a gamer who finds an Easter Egg hidden away in a game and proceeds to trumpet it from the highest hills and forums, the TA Team is going to be featuring these Easter Egg games on the front page for all to see.
Imagine you've woken up out of bed and are missing your left arm. You are in SERIOUS pain and have no idea where your arm is and how it was severed from your body in the first place. For some reason, a unicorn is standing by your side, urging you to follow it so help can be found. Shortly after, you black out and come back with a newly built left arm, which is oddly glowing a powerful, dark blue colour. You are then given a mission by a half cyborg / half man person to destroy an old man who has stolen an unhappy woman's ears. With your newly acquired space katana in hand, along with your destructive left arm, you set off to vanquish a demon that can only be understood while wearing giant earmuffs.
If none of that made even the slightest bit of sense to you, then you aren't alone. This is just a taste of the life of Mondo Zappa, an executioner whose job it is to destroy foul demons and characters who make other people's lives a misery. Welcome to Killer is Dead
, a game where the story makes little sense until the very end, and craziness is delivered in humongous spades. The job...KILLER IS DEAD.The BasicsKiller Is Dead
is a hack & slash title developed by Grasshopper Manufacture Inc.
, the mastermind of which is usually referred to as "Suda 51." Both Lollipop Chainsaw
and Shadows of the Damned
came before and so you can only guess what's coming, and that guess would probably be right. Mondo Zappa's journey is completely and utterly bonkers. Mondo is an executioner, and with his dimwitted assistant, Mika, they are given assignments to hunt down and destroy unique foes. They are part of a government organisation led by Vivienne and Bryan; two very mysterious people who are all about getting the job done. There is a story to be found here, but don't expect it to be thrown straight at you from the very start.
The game consists of twelve episodes and a variety of optional missions and as you play through, you will need to rip apart numerous monsters and strange beasts to reach the level boss. While the game is relatively short, each level is a memorable experience and provides something which is hard to compare to anything else. This is one of those "There isn't anything basic about it" kind of games and you will find out why shortly. You hack, you slash, you run, you upgrade your skills and you find provocative nurses hidden in small objects and tight crevices who lean upon a giant needle. Wait, what?The Hook
Visually, Killer Is Dead
pleasing to look at. It possesses a slightly cel shaded quality that causes the colours to become all the more vivid as you play. As Mondo tears through enemies, a flurry of blues and reds will fill the screen. It never gets tiring to see this and it is a joy to watch your foes fall to your blade. Speaking of blades, you'd think that Mondo would have a huge host of combos and attacks to unleash on the opposition, but that's not necessarily the case. Unlike similar titles such as Bayonetta
and the Devil May Cry
series, you will regularly be spamming the X button. This may sound like a bit of a downer, and most likely why some reviews disliked the game, but when upgrades are acquired through the use of "Moon Crystals", Mondo's main combo becomes more and more powerful to the extent that he becomes a cartwheeling maniac who twirls his katana, imbued with strange purple energy, like his life literally depended on it (which it does). As well as this, his robotic left arm "Musselback" can also be upgraded with a variety of different weapon types. These range from a machine gun, a drill and a freeze gun that locks enemies in place. Every type of attack that Mondo has can be upgraded and he eventually becomes an almost unstoppable force. It's not the most challenging of hack & slash titles, but that means it is accessible to anyone who is willing to give it a shot. It has been said that Killer Is Dead
is a collection of Suda 51's greatest hits, and that statement is definitely not a far-fetched one.
In regards to combat, the best and most tantalisingly fun mechanic is the "Dodge Burst" move. You are constantly encouraged to to dodge and evade enemy attacks, and if you evade an attack the second it is about to hit you, the chance is given to activate this crazy attack. If you are successful, the X button will be crushed under your finger as you spam it into the dust. As you do this, everything will slow down and the screen will turn red. An orchestral sounding tune will loop while Mondo flails his katana with an uncountable amount of slashes on a specific enemy. If an enemy is killed while performing this move, then a slow-mo slash will rip them to peaces and everything will soon turn to normal. You will become very familiar with evading and yet activating a dodge burst never gets old, and when I say never, I mean NEVER.
When fighting groups of enemies, you will gain blood. This blood is shown in a meter to the left of the screen and when you fill up one of its bars, the "Adrenaline Burst" becomes available. This move is similar to dodge burst, but is a lot more powerful. If you pull the right trigger down and then press X, that famous screen of red will grace you and Mondo will rush towards a random enemy and kill it instantaneously in one foul swoop. This attack is obviously not available on bosses but if you exploit it, hordes of enemies will go down in mere seconds.
Practically everything you come across in Killer Is Dead
is just weird. You will fight a demonic head of a speeding train, an ugly, fat giant with lazers, and a spooky cloaked woman who enjoys invading Mondo's dreams. Whenever a major boss is ready to be executed, Mondo will raise his katana and utter the words "Killer Is Dead." At this point you will be prompted to execute your target with the right trigger and Mondo will eradicate the boss in a fitting nature for a real executioner. He's always out to complete every job and he keeps his cool while doing so. While traversing these peculiar levels, you will also find Scarlett. Scarlett is a nurse who tends to hide in easy-to-miss places and if you reveal her, she will reward you with lots of blood and a challenge for you to face. These challenges are activated through choosing Scarlett's mission on the main menu and act as tests for Mondo to pass. If you do well, Scarlett may reward you...in more ways than one.
This leads onto the most mind-boggling part of the game. If everything I've mentioned sounded weird, then the Gigolo missions are sure to raise a few eyebrows. These are completely optional, but if you chose to partake in these mini-games, you'll find a somewhat hilarious experience. Mondo will be sitting on a bench or in a bar next to a girl and your task is to stare at that woman until Mondo is gutsy enough to give her a present. After presenting a certain amount of gifts that the woman likes, Mondo will... enjoy her company. Come back to the mini-game again and more of the scene will play out. If you have the game's DLC or have visited Scarlett enough times, special X-Ray glasses will become available and Mondo will be able to see a girl's underwear which quickens the process. The first time I saw this as a Christmas treat, I couldn't help but laugh out loud. Some have taken offense to these missions across the web, but it is there purely for a bit of stupid fun. It's a fun distraction to all the monster killing and the "BLING!" of a seductive snapshot of a woman's breasts can bring out the immature nature of us gamers. Be warned, if Mondo stares at the girl while she is looking at you, then he will most likely receive a cup of water to the face. Be careful with your perverted glares!
If you want to have Killer Is Dead
in your 100% collection, you will need to max out everything the game has to offer. Every single one of Scarlett's locations will need to be discovered as well as completing all of her missions, and for those of you aren't a fan of the Gigolo missions, then you're in for some bad news. The Happiest Man on Earth
achievement will require you to endure the mini-game twenty successful times. The difficulty achievements do not stack either so at least three full playthroughs will be required. The most illusive achievement in the list is probably The Mass Murderer is Dead
. A triple "S" ranking will have to be attained in every single episode, side mission and challenge in the game. Don't fret, as it is easier than it sounds. Utilise your obtained money well and upgrade Mondo like there's no tomorrow. In all, the achievements aren't too bad if you just persevere and enjoy the game.The StatsKiller Is Dead
may well be our least tracked Easter Egg game to date. Just over 3,300 people have leaped into Mondo's shoes and 8.87% of those people have fully completed it.
The community gave the game a not-so-crazy 3.8 stars whereas Metacritic only gave it 64. I'm guessing they weren't crazy enough for Suda 51's tastes.The Price
The apparently "limited" edition of the game can be purchased brand new for a measly £8.99 if you are in the U.K and shop on Amazon
. For those of you in America, you will have to fork out a bit more as it is currently sitting at Gamestop
for $29.99 brand new and $24.99 for a pre-owned copy. Pretty crazily cheap prices, I must say.The Verdict
To get the most out of Killer Is Dead
, you will probably need an acquired taste. It may not be for everyone, but it possesses qualities that many other games don't. It's utterly insane while still retaining lots of entertainment, and more importantly, accessibility. This is not a challenging game for this type of genre, and those of you who are looking to see if Japanese hack & slashes are for you, this is a good place to start. For a short game, it is made longer with the addition of smaller side missions and challenges, and there is a tremendous amount of replayability to be found. It looks beautiful no matter what you're doing, and it's a game that will certainly satisfy your cravings of out-of-this-world craziness and wacky mini-games. The TA community seem to be a little timid with this one, but this humble writer wants to convince you otherwise. Give it a go, and you will discover a quality that defines true gaming; pure fun!
If there's a game you'd like to see featured in Easter Eggs, be sure to let us know in the comments!