Goddammit Japan.

I mean... Goddammit. Killer Is Dead is a really fun game. It's not breaking any barriers, or revolutionising story, but for the most part it's a fun, slightly surreal hack and slash game that sees you take on the role of a robot armed hitman-for-hire, set in a dystopian future where the moon has been populated, people can invade your dreams and no-one bats an eyelid at a man with a huge sword and a gun for an arm.

 photo killer-is-dead-02_zps81b463ca.jpgSounds good, right? Right. It is a lot of fun. The story, while sparse, has nods to David Lynch, Lewis Carrol and Truman Capote (the latter being slightly tenuous, but present nonetheless). You are Mondo Zappa, a hitman hired by world governments and private clients to take out undesirables. You have a three person team at your disposal (though, you only get to play as Mondo), a sword that can reflect bullets, and an arm that can be customised and upgraded to be several weapons at once. A swiss army gun, if you will. The world you inhabit is dark and murky in glorious cel-shaded detail - think Frank Miller's iconic artwork for Sin City, and add a splash of colour and you're there. When the camera takes control away from the player, each shot on screen is framed beautifully. At times I wanted to pause the game just to drink in the visuals. So much is done with so very little, and still Suda51 manages to create a world filled with vibrancy and atmosphere. My only criticism would be that the refresh rate is a little temperamental once gameplay kicks off, and looking around to inspect your surroundings will result in much unwelcome juddering.

 photo killer-is-dead-01_zps74d458de.jpgThe gameplay is simple enough, but not so simple that the player gets bored. You will essentially spend most of your time mashing two buttons (attack and dodge), but there is a mechanism in place to pull off some pretty sweet combos, and with perfect timing you will unlock special moves. Unfortunately, these special moves usually entail mashing one button, repeatedly, as fast as you can.

And then there are the side missions...

My litmus test for sexism in games is pretty straightforward. "Would I be comfortable letting my wife watch me play this?" She's pretty open minded, but after her seeing her reaction to Suda51's previous big release, Lollipop Chainsaw, I knew that Killer Is Dead's Gigolo Mode would be something that I'd have to play while she was out of the house.

Suffice it to say, it's more than a little creepy. Mondo visits bars and has to seduce women by giving them presents, but before he does that he has to build up his (courage meter? blush meter? erection meter?) by sneaking cheeky glimpses at their breasts, thighs and faces while they're not looking. If you have a special pair of glasses, you can even see the women in their lingerie. There have already been countless arguments as to whether the game deserves the flack it's getting for these completely voluntary Gigolo side missions (it has no bearing on the main story), but I'd argue that it being non-compulsory to completing the game almost makes it worse, like it's been tacked on. Similar to a completely over the top nude scene in a film that has little to no bearing on characterisation and plot, it just sits there detracting from what is otherwise a fairly enjoyable game.

 photo gigolo_zpsa9680a99.jpgIn summary, Killer Is Dead is like that friend you've known for ages, the guy down the pub who's always good for a laugh, has all the latest gadgets and can spin a good yarn. You enjoy spending time with them, you even start looking forward to meeting up with them. Then, one day they take out their mobile phone, wink at you, and show you all the nude pictures they've been taking of their sexual conquests and laughing in a leery, laddy fashion.