For me, Katana ZERO is one of those indie games I bought because I had some extra money in the eShop and I thought the game looked cool… Usually when this happens I find some really cool games, but I wasn’t expecting to find one of the coolest games I’ve played in recent memory.
Katana ZERO is a 2D side scrolling action game where you play fast, kill fast, and die fast, and, if you adore the story like I do, then you cry fast too.
It’s very clearly inspired by Hotline Miami and it shows it without any shame with it’s neon-soaked environments and Tarantino-esque blood splatters.
The basic premise of the game is that you’re an assassin samurai dude who loves taking drugs – Every mission you go to a shrink who assigns you a mission, then injects you with some blue stuff that you’ll later find out about regarding it’s significance. Our lovely samurai man is plagued with nightmares and hallucinations because of this drug, and is unsure about his past – In time you’ll figure all of this out and more and it’s an absolute treat.
I adore this game’s story and characters, and especially when it gets really, REALLY dark. It’s not just about people who kill fast and eat ass; these people are broken, and dependent on certain things. Caught up in a weird messed up city known as New Mecca after some huge war.
For me the gameplay is the second best thing about this game. The story comes first.
…Speaking of gameplay, the gameplay is tight, fast, and it’s pretty much always fair. You get really decent toolkit in the game so it doesn’t feel like you’re ever underpowered or overpowered – Levels are spaced out in a way that allows for a lot of creative kills and paths that are personalized to you.
The level design of this game is laser focused, but I can imagine that the same gameplay over and over each level would get a little dull. Luckily, Katana ZERO was completely aware of that and they add in some amazing pace-breakers for this fairly short game, keeping it fresh and consistent every mission; you get stealth, unique boss fights, and highway chase scenes and it all feels good to play before you go back to your standard hacking and slashing.
I wouldn’t say that this game is harder than it’s inspiration, but I will still say that if you aren’t paying attention, then you’re going to get your ass kicked.
The main mechanic in the game is the use of an ability that slows down time so you can maneuver, attack and assess the situation before you go back into real-time. It’s a good get out jail card that isn’t too overpowered for its own good; there are still downsides to using it, and I prefer not to use it all together so I can feel like a samurai with godlike reflexes all on my own.
The other thing that stands out about Katana ZERO is it’s dialogue system. It’s… Weird and pretty fresh; I don’t want to give away too much, but let’s just say that if you’re one of those people who mash A at the Pokemon Center, then this game has an answer for that and it may not be pretty. It also makes for some really impressive storytelling.
So is Katana ZERO a game that you should buy with your money right now? Yes you buffoon, go spend all of your money on this; buy multiple copies even! Become a slave to video games you sheep. But for real though, it’s definitely worth your money and time. It even has some DLC coming in that’s going to give the story a much needed fleshing out, so stay tuned for when I gush about that whenever it comes out.
I give Katana ZERO a: