Killer. Is. Dead.
One of the weirdest, wacky, and homage to video game cliches was released in 2013 as “Killer Is Dead” for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. The hack-n-slash bounty hunter/gigolo escort game was developed by Grasshopper Manufacture and published by Xseed Games and was overseen by Suda51. Critics hated this game for various reasons, some had valid points while others were just cry babies. Where does my score fall and how does Killer Is Dead impact the future of video games?
Nothing about Killer is Dead is normal, and that’s okay. This game is crazy and the plot follows suit. You play as “Mondo” a bounty hunter who has lost his memories, had one of his arms replaced by a mechanical bioweapon. Killer Is Dead is set somewhere in the future as it gives off a huge “Cowboy Bebop” vibe right down to the cast of characters that surround Mondo. Speaking of Mondo, not only is he a bounty hunter but he also is a part-time gigolo on the side. What a man!
Mondo and his crew that consists of Bryan a big black guy who is part machine, part human that runs the bounty agency, Vivienne, a sultry superior of Mondo’s, and Mika, who is the ditzy and I put that lightly, side-kick to Mondo. Together the four of them take on bounty contracts where Mondo chases down the hits and executes them. Mondo takes down contract after contract until he receives one from a woman named “Moon River” who lived on the dark side of the moon and in an abusive relationship with a man named David before he took over the moon from her. David has been connected to other hits that Mondo has done so he takes on this contract. David escapes the first hit attempt and the rest of the game is spent discovering clues on David and his connection to Mondo. It turns out that David is the brother of Mondo who used to work for Bryan before he was infected with dark matter. The dark matter is what runs Mondo’s bioweapon arm and starts to affect Mondo who starts to lose control near the end of the game as his arm becomes too much to handle with the pain.
I’m not sure how Mondo lost his memories or his arm and I don’t care the story and characters are so great it doesn’t matter to me. Bryan found Mondo after a unicorn dropped Mondo off at Bryan’s office. I’m not making this up. Anyway, it turns out that Mika was a spy for David because he knew they’d be sending a hit after him but Mika turns out to be harmless and was just used as a spy for info. David and Mondo battle it out on the moon in the final mission with Mondo killing his brother. As his brother dies Mondo cuts off his arm that has become too much for him to handle. It also appears that Mondo wants to start his reign as the master of the moon and in the final moments of the game, Moon River is seen putting a hit on Mondo to his old agency.
Right from the beginning of Killer Is Dead, I knew this game was different. Not just in a weird way, but in a nod to old games. The brilliance of Killer Is Dead is that the game doesn’t take anything seriously. All the characters are laughable cliches and it knows this. Mika is so cringe-worthy but it works for her and what the writers were trying to establish. Killer is Dead also breaks the fourth wall numerous times and admits to being a video game. I don’t care for whatever the designers were going for with the black shade over the game. At first, I thought there was a terrible glare on my tv, it was a purple haze that went over the screen but it turns out that’s how the programmers wanted the game to look! Artsy sure, but also a bit stupid.
The characters that live in Killer is Dead are all wonderful. Voice acting can at times teeter from average to poor but the personalities that were given to each character fit and adds to the game. Bounties are wonderful as each mission ends with an epic boss fight that takes place in a bizarre setting. The first bounty you take on is killing Alice in Wonderland set in a dollhouse. It was nuts and it worked together so beautifully to create an addictive and fun hack-n-slash game.
Killer is Dead isn’t difficult. I never had a game over and rarely died. The final boss took me five minutes to beat and he was one of the easiest fights of the entire game. You spend a lot of time dodging and countering but being defensive can be fun as it leads to massive damage bursts from you. I was able to beat the game in just a few short days but there are plenty of mini-games and bonus missions including the infamous gigolo missions that game critics had their panties twisted by. I went into these gigolo missions expecting the worst, imagining Mondo ripping the clothes off of busty women and taking them to pound town or the women presenting themselves in sexy positions as you mashed buttons to hump them but instead I was given a very tame minigame that I have no idea caused so much fuss. You sit with a “beauty” who is fully clothed and your goal is to sneak looks at them without being caught. You score points for looking at their face, arms, legs, chest, and thighs. When your score meter goes up you can then give them a gift. Give them enough and they’ll make some reference to going somewhere private and the screen turns white. No nudity, no women popping their tits out for gamers to ogle over, nothing offensive. The goal is to get a new weapon from the girls when they like you enough and the weapons they give can be quite useful! If you play enough bonus missions you can earn a pair of “x-ray” glasses that give you the ability to see the beauties in their underwear but still no nudity. I honestly don’t get why PC critics had such a problem with this.
I bought this game with an Amazon gift card and it included the artbook. It’s super cool and I enjoy looking through it. I ignored all the bad reviews from mainstream game reviewers and stuck to my gut. In the end, I was right and I loved this game. It was also the first game I played on my 75-inch 4K tv.
Killer is Dead is a terrific game. It has its flaws with some bad to average voice acting and questionable choices for art styles but overall this is a game that everyone should play. Video games are meant to take you away to another universe and distract you from real life. With so many games today trying to be as “real” as possible it can take the fun out of “playing” a game. Killer Is Dead is an amazing homage to old games and the ridiculousness that comes with it from the characters, plot, and gameplay. Honestly, do yourself a favor and play this game. You won’t regret it.
Killer Is Dead scores a 9.0 out of 10.
Do you remember when Killer Is Dead first came out? Were you offended by the gigolo missions? What did you think of the characters and crazy plot? Who was your favorite bounty? What other games are like this? Let me know your memories and thoughts, I’d love to read the comments.
If you’d like to own a copy of Killer Is Dead you can purchase a used copy of it for the PS3 for $25 on eBay.