Killer 7 Review: Seven Degrees Of Weird

There’s a lot of ways you can describe something that is weird. With Killer 7, I will try my best to make sense of it all. Originally released back on the Nintendo GameCube in 2005, Suda 51’s unconventionally mature action adventure title is now available on PC. So, should you play this surreal assassin adventure? Well, let’s find out.

Killer 7 is an action adventure title, where you play as a group of assassins, tasked with stopping a terrorist organization. So it’s up to the the Smiths, the seven professional assassins whom share or inhabit the body of a professional killer (?) to keep the peace and maintain order. — Trust me it makes more sense as you play.

The Story? Eccentric

So what is Killer 7 about exactly? Well, for the sake of spoilers I won’t give away too much. There’s a terrorist group, called the Heaven Smile, a threat to the US and world government. The Killer 7 are a superhuman-like group hired to stop them. The seven are people of various backgrounds, walks of life, and so forth. They are lead by Garcian Smith, a well-dressed, highly-informed, and connected Black man (rare in games but appreciated). He accepts and dictates the team’s assignments. You’ll then work your way through a number of stages that take place across the US to stop the bad guys.

You’ll notice that the plot, thematically speaking, has eerie parallels to the real world. Commentary regarding politics, violence, corporations, influence, public opinion and etc. Although it’s a fictional alternative present, things aren’t all that different. The narrative is meant to examine, make fun, and ask the player to think about what controls the world. I have to admit, the narrative and plot overall can be problematic with it’s violence, subject matter, and themes at times. — Again, the story isn’t a conventional one.

The Controls? Somewhat Curious

From a gameplay stand point, Killer 7 doesn’t play/control like other action titles. Stages are on rails, what this means is that you move in a fixed direction via one button. Stages aren’t linear mind you. You have discover paths and secrets as you find them with anyone or whomever the game asks.

You traverse stages in third person. When you’re attacking Heaven Smiles, you’re aiming your weapon(s) in first person. This is the only way to attack them and target their weak points. All, well most enemies, have a glaring and obvious weak point. Shooting said weak point will immediately disperse them into particles.

Abilities and Powers Both Peculiar and Bizarre

Another aspect to gameplay are the Smiths themselves. Stages are constructed to require players to use an array of skills to solve puzzles, remove obstacles, dispatch enemies, and so forth. Each Smith has access to abilities unique onto themselves.

Dan Smith, the angry gunman, can fire energy blasts. Kaede Smith, the only woman and sniper of the team, can destroy barriers/walls. Con Smith, the tiny pre-teen, can slip through small spaces. Coyote Smith, the resident thief, can use his athleticism to reach high spaces.

Kevin Smith, the silent killer, can become invisible. Mask De Smith, a lucha libre, can use his super strength to remove obstacles. Then their leader Garcian, provides clean up support when necessary.

A Strange Tool Set

This title also focuses on an interesting resource, blood. So, as you exterminate Heaven Smile, you obtain liters of blood (you see a lot blood). This game has sort of an obsession with blood.

What does blood do exactly? Well, for one you can use it to heal yourself when hurt. So the more blood you have, the more likely you are to stay alive.

Blood also allows all characters to use their charge attacks, like Dan’s energy blast. These charge attacks have an extra kick to them, so you can stop tougher foes or survive some hairy situations.

Blood can also level up your “heroes”. At the character select screen you can enhance their various stats. Power yields more attack more, speed increases reloading speed, waver reduces weapon recoil , and critical increases your likelihood to deal massive damage. Leveling characters also unlocks battle abilities — Battle abilities such as being able to fire more often before reloading.

So yes, it’s fair to say the bloodier things get, the better you can get!

The Uncanny Style

Immediately you’ll notice this game has style all it’s own. Visually, it’s very clean and cel-shaded. After playing through again, I’m sure this was chosen to provide a nice parallel to the vibrant inspirations of this game. There’s a certain mood to everything thanks to this visually vivid game from the characters to the stages.

Also, the shading alone for character models is nothing short of master class. Screenshots don’t do enough justice for this game.

The game also features little details that you may miss regularly. For example, in each new stage, the assassins will have slight outfit changes. Dan wears a different shirt and tie combo. Coyote will have a new brightly colored shirt, Mask De Smith will have a different mask design to give you an idea.

Wait, I need to mention the sound design, and music. The soundtrack and audio is the work of both Jun Fukuda and Masafumi Takada. It has been remastered for its PC release. Their work consists of multiple genres, styles, and tempos. For music to fit the environments, moods, and tension of a game like this it’s nothing short of versatile.

Not So Odd Criticisms

I know I’ve spoken highly of this game so far. Now, I have to address why this game isn’t for everyone. First from a control perspective, it feels too obtuse. In an age where a lot of games offer easy controls, this can feel restrictive. It honestly takes time to get used to.

Also the matter of the game’s plot maybe too much. Or rather the plot might just fly over most players’ heads. If you want to get a better sense of what’s going on, you need to actively seek out NPC conversations and clues. The problem is the underlying facts are scattered within the madness and to be honest…are easy to miss.

Again, the level of weird can be too much at times.

A Final Word On The Weird

Killer 7 is very much a niche game and that is still very obvious in 2018. It’s one of those games that has aesthetics and themes that only a few can get. Now, if you’re looking to play something different from whatever you’ve played all year? Yes, I would totally say jump in for the quirkiness of it all.

You’ll notice that I never said that this experience is boring or bad. It maybe frustrating, a little out there, and just strange. It’s still very entertaining to play and see how these killers get through situations that are best described as supernatural. There’s a confidence of style and execution to with how freaky this title is and very few games offer the same.

If you’re a fan of niche, indie, and action adventure titles, Killer 7 is now available on steam.

I bat for PoCs, marginalized, equality, inclusion & geekdom. I'm warming the bench until coach subs me in.

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