3 January 2008 | K_Todorov
Bloody brilliant from start to finish
A surreal, psychedelic, dark comedy about political manipulation Goichi Suda's"Killer7" stands out as one of the most unique, complicated and mature videogames made. Like a Takashi Miike movie spliced with a bit of Seijun Suzuki it plays with some very disturbing themes in a bizarre darkly humorous manner and expressionistic visual style. It's gameplay a cross-genre between a first person and 3d person shooter with adventure elements and a prefixed rail-movement scheme. The weirdest of the weird, hate it or love it you haven't seen a video game like this one before.
Explaining the plot is a complicated deed and useless in the sense that it spoils too much, so I'll just give the barebones. Killer7 is about a struggle. That struggle could be between good and evil, it could be between two countries it could be between two entirely different cultures it could be all that combined and probably is depending on how you wish to interpretate. But above all else Killer7 is a struggle between two men, friends and enemies at the same time. Harman Smith is the Killer7 a man who has seven split personalities each a psychopathic assassin and Kun Lan mastermind behind the Heaven Smiles, invisible laughing zombie-like creatures who explode on contact this game is about their battle. A confrontation loaded with guns, guts, ghosts, smiles, wrestling, talking heads, flying brains, organ dealers, psychopaths at every corner and more.
Graphically it is not much different to its plot in terms of weirdness that is. The cell-shaded animation provides a striking minimalistic approach in terms of scenery and detail, lots of contrast between colours. An expressionist fan's wet dream. Camera work and cut-scene direction are top notch with some interesting stylistic choices such as for example the introductionary shots, some of the more violent scenes or the change in cut scene animation.
The gameplay as mentioned before is a combination of 3rd and 1st person shooters along with some puzzles to boot. During the course of the game we take control of the Killer7 detecting (hear laughing and you've got yourself a Smile nearby) and destroying large array of Heaven Smiles. Now, just shooting at them will suffice but aiming at the critical point on a Smile's body is a recommended course of action during battles because a direct hit means a direct death for the Smile and the direct death results to an explosion of blood that will be consumed by the Killer7 and can be used for healing and upgrading their skills, also it's awesomely cool. One of the more interesting and ambiguous parts of the gameplay is the on-rail movement scheme. Which means that moving is limited to just two directions: forward and backward, there are junctions where it's possible to change the rail a character is moving on and follow a different path. The idea of such a limit to exploration is to establish one simple fact: the characters, the Killer7 know more about the outlying world than the player. They know where to go and what to do at times when the player might not have a clear idea. This is done to provide the sense of mystery vital to the game's bizarre plot, playing part in the creation of the surreal atmosphere.
Bloody brilliant from start to finish. Beautiful in its visual appearance and direction and mind blowing in the plot compartment though flawed due to the supposedly missing levels. Director/writer Goichi Suda uses the video game format to present a unique story and vision that doesn't follow the clichés most games fall into, doesn't try to so desperately to emulate cinema. It is believe it or not a sign, a sign that videogames are evolving, becoming more mature and open for adapting complicated stories, with much more character and plot than a simple arcade shooter.