Title: Katana ZERO
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Genre: Action, Platformer, Arcade
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 18/04/19
Price: £13.49 – Rapid Reviews UK was very kindly provided with a review code for this title.
What the Developers say
Katana ZERO is a stylish neo-noir, action-platformer featuring breakneck action and instant-death combat. Slash, dash, and manipulate time to unravel your past in a beautifully brutal acrobatic display.
Exceptional Combat: Overcome your opposition however the situation requires. Deflect gunfire back at foes, dodge oncoming attacks, and manipulate enemies and environments with traps and explosives. Leave no survivors.
Hand-Crafted Sequences: Each level is uniquely designed for countless methods of completion. Defeat foes creatively, using spontaneous approaches to eliminate your enemy as you see fit.
Unconventional Storytelling: An enigmatic story told through cinematic sequences woven into the gameplay, twisting and folding to an unexpected conclusion.
Katana ZERO is a stylish, futuristic slasher where you play as an unnamed katana-wielding hero. Set against a colourful backdrop you’ll be dashing, dodging and slashing your way straight to the top of this drug-fuelled arcade platformer. There’s a very interesting unique selling point for Katana ZERO; you can slow down time to perform strategic deflection techniques against your enemies. Devolver Digital recently announced on Twitter that this had become their most pre-ordered Switch titles; overtaking other highly rated games such as The Messenger, Downwell and Minit to name a few. It’s a worthy achievement, and one that I’m sure is going down well with consumers now the game has been released; read on to find out why you should be putting Katana ZERO towards the top of your wish list!
Audio and Visual
There are some great visuals in Katana ZERO. If you’re not a fan of gore and over the top blood effects, then this part may not interest you, but it works very well. With the games’ pixel graphics approach, it’s oozing in style and creativity. Every character is incredibly detailed, and you can see they put a lot of effort into making each one unique. When you kill an enemy, their blood is splattered across the environment leaving a nice trail in your wake. There is a very strong retro aesthetic combined with neon, vibrant colours depicted throughout the game. For example, the stage selection screen is presented as if you’re inserting an old VCR tape for each stage and when you pause in the game, you have this grainy blue hue. It’s all very familiar for those who remember the VCR days. There’s a lot of variety in the stages; you could be slashing your way through a prison, riding a futuristic looking motorbike along a busy highway and traversing a trap-laden bunker, so it never feels like you’re seeing the same thing twice. This is yet another game that proves you don’t need 4K visuals.
The audio changes across each stage and it’s as if your character is tuning into his Walkman which is a nice touch. You get the name of the track at the bottom of the screen once he’s plugged in. It was enjoyable to listen to so I couldn’t fault it.
Gameplay and Replayability
This is where Katana ZERO holds its own — playing as the unnamed assassin you have to fight your way through government and police forces to uncover the dark truth of Chronos; an addictive drug that gives our hero his powers of time manipulation. It’s quite a multi-layered story which is played out through short text exchanges between the characters. In between each of the main stages which are split into short microchunks of hack n slack mayhem you visit your therapist. He gives you a dossier detailing each mission which is then burned upon reading, as well dosing you up on Chronos. I don’t want to give too much away about the story details because this is best played going in with little to no knowledge; it gets pretty dark though.
Each stage is set somewhere different, and they mix up the gameplay elements which forces you to play in new ways. For example, one stage has you sneaking through a night club without being seen. To blend in, you have to dance with the other guests at specific points along the stage. It’s a genius mechanic that works well and keeps you from getting bored with a repetitive gameplay style. The differing enemy types mean you’ll be learning when to activate your chronos ability the most effectively; enabling you to slow time and deflect bullet fire. The difficulty ramps up considerably about halfway through the game, with a one-shot death you have to start planning your routes around each stage strategically.
There’s no shyness here when it comes to depicting violence, bad language and frequent drug references, so the age rating is undoubtedly appropriate. Even the text boxes are presented in a quirky nature; different parts of the sentence may be a different colour or will judder off the screen, which leads me onto my next talking point — the dialogue. You have the option to respond to characters by either cutting them off mid-sentence or waiting a little longer for further options. Depending on what you choose can have an impact on how they interact with you at a later date, forcing you to think very carefully about how you answer.
You can replay any of the stages at any point with twelve in total which took me a good 3-4 hours to complete. So while it doesn’t boast the longest play time there is post-game content which you can unlock should you wish to do so. It’s a game that you can pick up and play on the fly and playing in handheld mode is perfect. There’s a poignant part in the game’s story which had me thinking I was finished, but it turned out I was only about halfway through!
Devolver Digital and Askiisoft have done a tremendous job of creating a stylistic, neon-filled, blood spattering arcade adventure with an intriguing and at times incredibly dark story to boot. I can’t sing its praises enough. Katana ZERO is a joy to play and is one of those games you’ll find increasingly hard to put down the further you progress. A fantastic art style, excellent enemy design with quirky characters and dialogue, a branching story path and a killer soundtrack. What’s not to love? If there’s one game you pick up over the Easter break; Katana ZERO should be high on that list.
Rapid Reviews UK Rating
You can purchase Katana ZERO from the Nintendo eShop on the following link,https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-Switch-download-software/Katana-ZERO-1532339.html