Ever since I found Hotline Miami 1, I fell in love with Devolver Digital. I love what they stand for, the games they publish and support, and of course, their on point humor. You can look at any game and just know if Devolver published that. When the WhatsItTech team went to PAX East 2019 and saw Katana Zero, we knew we had to play and after we did, we knew we had to buy, it was just that simple. Katana Zero is high octane energy, dark humor, twists and turns that’d make M Night Shyamalan giddy, and a soundtrack that’d make any synthwave lover gush. The artwork and aesthetic are also impeccable. Let’s cut through Katana, shall we?
The first thing that drew me to the game was the visually alluring combat. The game itself is a platforming game, and when on missions, your enemies are presented in various rooms. Navigate through the rooms, finish the level. Pretty straightforward. What Askiisoft does to make this enjoyable is give your character the ability to slow down time. This really puts you in the driver seat and lets you freestyle the game how you see fit. Want to coax all the enemies into one room and obliterate them? Go for it. Want to rush down and reflect bullets, go for it. Oh yeah, that’s right, you can reflect bullets, something I haven’t seen in as many other games. The games makes you feel like a total badass.
As mentioned earlier, the mood of the story is fantastic. Askiisoft did a great job of making you feel absolutely insane and deranged, another quality I feel their writers nailed. As the game progressed, I felt myself relate to the character. Your conversation options really do reflect how you could feel if you were frustrated or patient. I wouldn’t dare compare it to the conversation options from games like Mass Effect, but would say that you definitely have a Paragon and Renegade answer in almost all of your interactions. The great thing about this is that they alter the gameplay. If you piss off a receptionist, they might rat you out to the police. Things have consequences, it’s refreshing.
After decimating an entire room, the game plays back security footage of what ‘actually’ happened. It’s an interesting for sure and definitely rewarding after you’ve tackled a difficult room. Watching the enemies fall one by one to your blade is immensely satisfying. The footage plays a larger part in the story, but was quite fine to watch every damn time I cleared a room.
The story itself was very good, but it felt it was building up to something we didn’t receive. At the end of the game, it is strongly hinted that we will get DLC, and I hope that ties up some of the loose ends that we get in the story.
The music, by far, is a huge stand out on this game. Hotline Miami 1 and 2 are the games that got me into synthwave and really interested in the neo-noir genre of game. The composers and arrangers for this album knocked it out of the park. Some songs are super relaxing, and other are extremely aggressive. The juxtaposition of these songs and their usage in the levels are immaculately done and I can’t wait to hear the music for the DLC and future games!
Katana Zero did a lot of things right, and so very few wrong. The game is around 4-6 hours, but it’s an adrenaline rush the entire way through. You never feel like you’re slowing down or that the dev is grasping at the air for ideas, everything is well laid out, evenly spaced, and beautifully chaotic. I’m planning on replaying the game simply so that I can see the other conversation topics and options in game. Definitely pick this game up on your platform of choice as soon as you can. You won’t regret it one bit!