A Cut Above the Rest-Katana ZERO

Sometimes a game sits on the back burner for so long that when you look at it in your Steam library, you just feel really bad for it. It continues to sit and judges you as you boot up another garbage-ass Triple-A game. You can’t stand being a piece of shit for that long, so you boot up the backlogged game and love it. That is this week! Bought it May 2019 and sat until this last week is Katana ZERO.

Developed by Askiisoft and published by Devolver Digital, Katana ZERO is a 2D action platformer with some cyber-noir aspects mixed in. Retailing for a hot $15 on Steam and the Switch.

You are Zero, an assassin that lives in “New Mecca” and takes contracts from his shrink. In return, the shrink, who is also apparently a drug dealer, shoots Zero with a drug that allows him to slow time and in essence be one of the deadliest assassins…Period. Zero does not sleep for he has a recurring nightmare of two figures entering his home. later on in the story, ZERO comforts a little girl and is a defining moment for a man who is believed to be a cold killer but who empathizes for a child that is essentially abused by her father.Between missions is where the plot thickens as Zero connects the people who he has been contractually obligated to kill and the “Cromag War.” Stories or child killings, Chronos (the war drug) and super soldiers fill the air as Zero cuts his enemies to the ground. Towards the end Comedy and Tragedy vaguely narrate the remaining plot and it does get confusing at times but for the most part is understandable. The story as a whole is a well thought out work and it is executed very well. There is quite a lot of dialogue between Zero and

Level design is combed over with a fine toothed comb. Each level that the player participates in is created to allow them to finish it in any way that they please. From laziness to full blown perfection, the player can watch their replay at the end of each section to bask in their stylish murder. From a factory, a hotel and club to a military bunkers and slaughterhouses. Each level is colorful and GOD DAMN does it look good. It is very apparent that Askiisoft crafted each level so that it allows for players to take full advantage of each area of each section. I specifically remember slamming a door open, killing a grunt, picked up a bottle, ran through the ventilation system, dropped down, killed a guy with said bottle, slowed time and deflected a bullet back to another guy and I exited the staged. As the replay came up I was starry eyed with the absolute perfection that occurred in that single fight.

The analog sticks moves Zero while A utilize the pixels that murder bad guys, B is used to throw items. The right trigger rolls and the left slows down time. Bullet time is only ever used to deflect bullets back to enemies and it is on a very generous cool-down timer.

Before the start of each section Zero puts in his earbuds and presses play and his music SLAPS. Bill Kiley and Ludowic do a fantastic job with creating a damn fine soundtrack that perfectly fits the electronic theme of Katana ZERO.

I am a jackass for letting this game sit in my Steam library for as long as it did. Katana ZERO excels at everything that everyone should expect from a 2-D action platformer. The level design is top-notch, the music amplifies the gameplay and it never gets old, even to the point where I listen to it when I wasn’t playing the game. The game is brutal. From the language that the characters use to the brutal combat. People die and there is usually A LOT of blood. It covers pretty much everything in the game. The plot is a good old government cover up story, so it is naturally gripping. All of the characters feel real. They do not use witty humor or say anything cheesy, they are shitty people doing shitty things so they use real shitty language. The last thing I want to touch on is the difficulty. The game is difficult and the player gets punished for being greedy during fights. Sometimes it is infuriating but most of the time it is welcomed. You only ever lose because of your own decisions, it is never the games difficulty getting in the way.

You know a game is worth it when the reward for completing the game is a harder version of the game.


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