Wednesday, March 13, 2013

We Game To Please: Killer7

GENRE: First person shooter (sort of).

THE HOOK: A game with an actual plot.

THE WORLD: The game tells of the battle between the apparently immortal beings Harman Smith and Kun Lan, which is fought on several fronts, including chess and actual war.  Kun Lan has the God Hand, which allows him to create twisted beings called Heaven Smiles, who explode a lot and are therefore great for terrorism.  Harman Smith battles them with his Smith Syndicate, a number of alternate personalities who he can cause to physically manifest - also known as (yes!) the Killer7.

Though there is technically eight of them.
Japanese-American relations are at a low as we join the game, and a plot plays out that spans political intrigue, human trafficking, mental illness, the nature of war and terrorism and how far people will go to win.  In the meantime we'll also drop in on a comic writer whose stories come true, hunt down a charismatic cult leader and visit a very important school.  What more do you want?

GAMEPLAY: An odd mix of on-rails running and first person shooting, which somehow manages to give an illusion of freedom whilst being one of the more limiting gameplay experiences we can think of.  That's not a knock on it though; in a game where story progression is more important than the gameplay experience, you'll find plenty to drive you on as you deal with all the bizarre experiences.

You might find yourself talking to a head in a washing machine for ten minutes, or making a woman slash her wrists to erase lyrics by The Smiths to open a door, or meeting a new type of Smile in the Vinculum Gate, or just manaically blasting the inhuman enemies as their morbid laughter rings in your ears and chills your soul.  Whatever you're doing, there are two questions that you will need to answer: the first is, "what's going on?"  The second, more pressing question will become clear as you play on...

SERIES: As a well-received but seldom played cult game, it never received a sequel, but there are several references to it scattered throughout the town of Santa Destroy in "No More Heroes", another game by writer/director Goichi Suda (or "Suda51", as he often goes by).

HIGHLIGHTS: Plenty of them - to name a few, the boss fights and particularly the tense shootout with Curtis Blackburn; the visually stunning (and completely predetermined) battle with the Handsome Men; and the creeping feeling of unease as you approach the story's final twist.

LOWLIGHTS: The third mission, whilst unique in giving the player a whole town to explore and featuring some great sections, is a tad more boring and lengthy than the rest, and as such can be an easy quit point.  Stick with it, though; there's some great stuff just round the corner.

IF YOU LIKE IT: You'll like Suda51's other games, most likely regardless of genre, but most obviously the aforementioned "No More Heroes" and its sequel, which further subvert the genre by being at least partially aware that they are videogames.

No comments: