Clothing Is Only For The Strong!
HIGH Satsuki Kiryuin is the protagonist? Rad!
LOW Ten playable characters ain’t much, and two of them are alts.
WTF ‘Why aren’t they popping back on?’
Here’s some personal trivia.
I watched some Kill La Kill once, then quit after about five episodes. Irritating character extraordinaire Mako shoulders much of the blame, since every time she appeared onscreen I felt an overpowering desire to puke so hard my eyeballs would burst out of my skull. I’m also not a huge fan of arena fighters, which traditionally tend to bank on spectacle over gameplay.
Given these circumstances, who better to review Kill La Kill: IF, a spectacle-fueled arena fighter based on the popular anime franchise? But wait! Despite my distaste for the anime and genre Kill La Kill: IF ties itself to, it turns out that it’s pretty damned excellent.
Not that I’d know the difference having bailed on the anime early on, but apparently the storyline in Kill La Kill: IF diverges from the source despite still revolving around the use of superpowered clothing imbued with life fibers. It’s nonsense, but it’s a reasonably entertaining nonsense that sets up cool battles for players to rip through, so it’s all good .
Combat is built on various attacks common to most arena fighters. There’s a short-range attack, a long-range attack for harassing opponents at a distance, and a guard break for when the enemy gets a little too defend-happy. Holding L1 while performing any of these activates a super, and there are a variety of dashes and other maneuvers to close or create distance.
Attacks can also be modified by holding down a direction, so basic attack strings can become anti-airs, juggle starters or a range of sweeping slashes with a large area-of-effect. It’s a simple, yet effective setup that works well.
There’s also a unique mechanic called “Bloody Valor” — land one of these in a fight at the cost of half a super meter, and KlK:IF will switch to a cinematic showdown featuring a rock/paper/scissors mechanic that admittedly sounds terrible. However, the twist is that each attack confers a bonus when successful — health recovery, additional super meter or more damage. With this in mind, it becomes a game of reading what the opponent needs most and countering their choice. Careful, though… An opponent with near-zero health may feint and choose more damage instead of a life boost to throw their opponent off and win the exchange.
Initiating and winning three of these Bloody Valor duels results in a superpowered character who can perform a spectacular new instant-kill that will one-shot an opponent and end the match regardless of how many rounds are left. Landing one feels immensely satisfying, and they look fantastic to boot.
Unfortunately, while Bloody Valor is a neat mechanic in live matches, it falls flat when playing against the AI since it’ll simply read the player’s rock/paper/scissors input and counter it like the cheating input-reading AI shitbag it is.
There are also a number of one-sided fights in the story mode and some of the ancillary modes where players take on more than one opponent or hordes of weaker foes at once. These are less interesting than straight one-on-one fights as KlK:IF clearly wasn’t designed with them in mind, especially in regard to a fiddly lock-on that sometimes refuses to swap to the desired enemy. Getting blasted with giant lasers by an enemy that I can’t lock on to is not a good time.
A more substantial issue is the roster — there are ten fighters in total, six of whom can be selected at the start of the game, and two who are alternate versions of starting characters. Thankfully, a saving grace is that the combatants are very different from one another — not just in stats, but in their core mechanics.
One character may be fairly straightforward, powerful but lacking in health. Then there’s a guy who amps himself up by indulging in masochistic tendencies to power up his attacks — he loses a little life in exchange for the ability to perform powerful combos that physically reshape his body. Another character can throw out long-range attacks which analyze the opponent, giving him access to other options in combat. It’s nice to see that the crew here aren’t an identikit bunch of pugilists, even if there could (and should) have been more of them.
In terms of visuals and sound, APlus has knocked it out of the park with one of the most impressive-looking titles I’ve seen in ages thanks to cinematic flair and stylish camera angles escalating the action. Bloody Valor attacks are particularly cool with combatants smashing their weapons against each other as facial close-ups hover at the edges of the screen hurling insults at one another.
As far as bonus modes go, there’s not a great deal available. Players can face their friends in a versus match, take on hordes of weak AI, or head into the library to brush up on their Kill la Kill lore. There’s also a diorama mode where figures can be purchased and artistically posed to show off the best view of their backsides, and a few other side gubbins. Also, the online play is perfectly slick. Dipping in and out over several days, I didn’t come across a single match that had noticeable amounts of lag, resulting in a buttery-smooth experience every time.
While I was probably the furthest thing from the intended audience before starting this review, I had an absolute blast with Kill la Kill: IF, and I could almost be considered a convert at this point. It probably doesn’t have much chance as a serious, tournament-worthy fighter and the supporting content is thin, but if this title can win me over, it’s well worth any fighting game fan’s time.
Disclosures: This game is developed by Aplus and published by Arc System Works / Pqube. It is currently available on PS4, Switch and PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PS4 Pro. Approximately 6 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was. 3 hours of play were spent in multiplayer modes.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated M and contains Blood, Language, Partial Nudity, Suggestive Themes and Violence. Mature my arse, this is deserving of a Teen rating at most. The only moment involving any real violence was bloody hilarious, My guess is that the M comes because buttcheeks and midriffs are often on display when the main characters are on screen. Puritans!
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: This should be fairly accessible. Most attacks have strong visual elements to them, and the only time a audio could be an issue os when a player’s character gets obscured by the opponent and they can’t see what moves are being done — a brief, but potentially annoying scenario.
Remappable Controls: Certain functions are remappable. Movement will always be on the left stick, but buttons can be remapped as desired.