It is no secret that I am a fan of unique and interesting titles and the developers that they spring from. Which, obviously, makes Suda 51 one of my favorite people in the industry. He makes what he wants, when he wants and how he wants, and I always fall in love with all of his titles. Killer 7 has been one of his older titles I had yet to try my hand at, and I don’t know why. This game drips of Suda’s fingerprints, cell shading, weird story concept and the word “killer” in the title; how did I miss this again? Released in 2005 by publisher Capcom this Grasshopper Manufacture developed title is insanely weird, almost incomprehensibly weird; so bear with me as I try to describe it.
The story is somewhat confusing, it takes place on an alternate Earth where all conflict has been eradicated by treaties. You play as an assassin named Harman Smith who has a unique medical condition. Once he dispatches someone he can absorb their personality, so he contains many personalities that help him along the way or you can play as. You can morph into any one of these personalities if you’re in a certain part of the game. Each of them have special abilities to help you through each level. Your mission as killer7 is to rid a building of cult members of Heaven Smiles. As you climb each floor of the building you are greeted with more and more story that takes more twists and turns than the building you are in. You also have two personalities that help you in your journey as NPC’s; there’s Travis who is the first assassination of Harman and Iwazara who gives you hints and warns you of danger.
Not only is the story hard to grasp, the controls are as well. These are some of the most difficult and weird controls of any Suda 51 game I’ve ever played. First off the game plays like a quasi on-rails shooter; you can’t really maneuver very well in the levels, you can go up and down along a designated path. Thankfully you can run by pressing X, but never run too fast, enemies can be invisible until you scan for them, using L1, which makes them vulnerable to harm. If you need to run away hit triangle and you will change direction on the path. When you do encounter one of the Heaven Smiles cult members you need to press R1 to ready your weapon and hit X. This will shoot them, but if there are multiple you can hit the directional button to switch enemies or triangle to lock onto the closest one. For some reason I have a hard time with these controls and I don’t know why, on rail shooters were never my thing but this isn’t a FULL ON one, oh well I trudged along just fine.
For a fourteen year old game, it doesn’t look like it has aged a day in those long years. Cell shading is one of the better design choices for your game if you want it to be eternal. Just look at The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, that game looks as good as it did when it came out on the GameCube at the turn of the century. Killer 7 is no different, this game isn’t one of those ugly games you have to sit through and squint your way towards the end. Everything looks crisp and colorful and the design choices of the main characters and enemies fits the cell shaded style so well. If you have just a small grasp of who Suda 51 is, a mere peek at this game and instinctively you would know it is his. I use to dislike cell shading, in fact I almost didn’t buy the first Borderlands because I felt that game deserved to look realistic. How wrong I was, I am a huge fan of cell shaded games, especially since they never, ever age.
While I’m a HUGE fan of Suda 51, this is one of my least favorites of his games. I feel bad writing this, but the controls really drop this title on my favorites list. I kept turning around and going in the wrong direction, not locking onto the right enemy and so on. I’m generally all for unique controls and mechanics, this one was just too difficult to master for my pampered current generation ass. The game is great to look at, and the story is off the rails but the controls really hampered my enjoyment of this title. If this game had the control scheme of Shadows of the Damned it would have been a masterpiece! Sadly it has the controls of an early N64 game, just without the weird need three hands controller set-up.
For a fourteen year old game, it doesn’t look like it has aged a day in those long years. Cell shading is one of the better design choices for your game if you want it to be eternal. The game is great to look at, and the story is off the rails but the controls really hampered my enjoyment of this title.
- Game looks great 14 years on
- Story is interesting and engaging
- Very unique game for niche gamers
- Controls are atrocious
- Mechanics are hard to figure out
- The on rails yet somewhat open game isn't all it is cracked up to be