As exciting as it has been looking forward to Devolver Digital’s Katana Zero, it is even more impressive to get the game in your hands and see it in motion. From what I have played so far, the fluidity and art direction that Askiisoft is able to achieve makes traversing around the game’s world clear and easy to understand. The pixel art in the game expertly presents the characters and backgrounds that made that an overall joy to experience.
Katana Zero’s presentation with its neon punk aesthetic is definitely what sets it apart. Even with the pixelated world, the story scenes manage to come off more like a film at times. Characters introduced in the early parts of the game have me look forward to their backstory. For example, a small girl is strangely interested in spending time with the main protagonist in cutscenes between missions. With clear influences from noir type films, the dynamic has me guessing what could possibly happen next.
As a combat heavy side scroller, Katana Zero does not disappoint. Like many tough games, one hit quickly sends you back to a checkpoint for countless rapid retries. Along with bullet time action, the gameplay is familiar but mechanics like striking a mid-air bullet to reflect back at enemies keeps the action fresh. Thankfully, the controls respond well, though I will say can benefit from player customization. I couldn’t help but feel some of my shortcomings were due to repeatedly pressing the bullet time button that should be better equipped as a dodge instead.
While combat is fast and fun, sometimes attacks seem to bounce me in the air during certain scenarios. It will launch me upward on some successful hits, which may be how the game allows a player to chain up strikes but I find that it misdirects me into missing some hits intended at a specific angle and ultimately gets me killed. The same can be said when an upward attack seems to go at an angle when it is possible to attack straight up. As I said, it could be a chaining technique that I’m not understanding but so far it doesn’t seem intuitive.
With that aside, I’m hoping that the game will continue to tell a story that is satisfying to watch until the end as much as it is to watch it unfold. Many times, final acts tend to fall flat so here’s hoping just as much care in the combat and visuals have gone into the game’s conclusion.
So far Katana Zero doesn’t seem to drop a beat. Gameplay is solid and avoids being repetitive by mixing up the scenarios that the character finds himself in. While there are a few hurdles to overcome in terms of unnecessary deaths, I’m eagerly awaiting the hours leading up to the game’s conclusion of this fast-paced adventure.
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