(Note: Review Code Provided by PQube)
Of all Studio Trigger works produced my favorite one is Kill la Kill with its over the top action, unapologetic content, animation and humor that remind me of late 80’s and 90’s action cartoons/anime. When one was announced I got excited. Question was whether the end product was worth the anticipation. Let us find out as we take a look at Kill la Kill: The Game IF, developed by Arc System Works and Studio Trigger.
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PS4, PC (Steam).
Genres: Anime, Ecchi, Fighting, 3D Arena, Shounen.
Length: 3 hours (Both Story Mode Campaigns combined. Ryuko’s is a bit longer.)
G-Rating: Okay-Good. (Depends on how many friends the player has to play local or online multiplayer)
There will be no plot summaries this time as it is set in the middle of the events of the 1st half of the anime where Ryuko faces off with the Elite Four for a chance to battle Satsuki. Early on the story follows events from the anime from Satsuki’s perspective but soon the differences start showing. My overall thoughts on the story are that is a solid one. To be precise it is a “journey over destination” experience where players getting into the action as Satsuki is more amazing than what transpires in the plot. Not saying the plot is bad, it fits KLK, but again the journey is where players will get the most enjoyment in this one, especially since the story is not very long. While Ryuko’s story, unlocked after finishing Satsuki’s, is slightly longer it is not by much. Depending on player skill it should take around 3 hours to complete both stories. Having said that do not expect every battle to be 1v1. There are surprise opponents alongside the rest of the playable cast and as mentioned players will battle more than 1 opponent in certain story chapters.
One thing worth noting is that at the start of the game only Story Mode is available, The first battle is a tutorial. Beating it will unlock the other Basic Modes. However, Online Modes are unlocked by progressing through the story. To unlock all the basic stuff, excluding purchasable memorabilia, players must beat both Satsuki and Ryuko’s stories. Unless the player wants to jump online right away this should not be a big deal. After all, it is rare for fighting games to give players the satisfaction of earning stuff rather than having to buy them in digital stores though there are items (tunes, character figures, illustrations etc.) to be purchased with in-game currency earned while playing the game.
Next up is presentation and as Arc System Works has shown with games such as Guilty Gear Xrd and Dragon Ball FighterZ they have nailed the next step in anime video games where the graphics are as close to looking like the anime rather than CGI, taking 2D art into 3D. This is something games like Time and Eternity/TokiTowa were close to mastering and Arcsys found the formula. The characters look THAT GOOD, especially during Super Moves and their Finishers. The battle arenas are based on in-game locations and battlefields and those of course look pretty good too. The soundtrack is a mixture of familiar tunes from the anime along with original orchestral and rock beats befitting the show. Basically the presentation is excellent.
Next up is the gameplay that can be best described as “fun but only featuring the bare minimum”. Allow me to elaborate. First of all is the roster which features, Ryuko, Satsuki, The Elite Four, four unlockable characters and two free DLC (Mako and Nudist Beach Mech). That is 12 playable characters (unless there is more DLC planned).
The game modes besides Story include Training, some extra challenge modes, online and offline versus. Basically the bare minimum for a fighting game.
Next up is the combat itself, which is a 3D Arena Shouen Anime Fighter similar to the ones developed by Bandai Namco such as Naruto, One Piece, Jump Stars, My Hero Academia etc. The only ones I have played are the Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm series and having played this one it feels grounded and a less gimmicky despite the characters and series being over the top. Characters are split in two types, those that are good at close to mid range (Ryuko, Satsuki and Gamagoori for example) and “Zoners” (Nonon and Ragyo for example). When I say the game feels grounded is that while it is a 3D Arena Fighter it feels like a 2D fighting game in a 3D landscape, if that makes sense. There are no gimmicky features besides the extra challenge modes and certain story battles but true to the show’s nature the characters all have crazy and unbalanced movesets, especially when powered up. However, unlike other Anime Arena Fighters where some characters are overpowered making the majority of the roster seem insignificant (Not just Joke Characters) everyone in KLK IF is unbalanced making for frantic matches in the hands of veteran and casual players alike. Playing defensive can only get you so far. This being KLK fans expected the combat to be frantic and at times unfair. It is the nature of the beast providing quite the visual spectacle. As far as online goes it is solid so long as both players have good connection.
As mentioned above I described the game as “fun but with the bare minimum”. The reason I did so is that while the game is enjoyable it does not have enough content to justify an initial $60 (US) price tag. There are other full priced fighting games out there with the same price at release but far more content. Were this a $30 (40 is stretching it a bit but sure) then absolutely but, not to be super rude as plenty of people worked on the game, it is kind of lacking in content.
Overall Kill la Kill The Game: IF is an enjoyable fighter with a great presentation and fun gameplay that does the series justice. However, there is not enough content to justify a full budget price. Recommended to fans of the series and players who enjoy 3D Anime Arena Fighters. Whether readers feel like getting the game right away or wait for a sale/price drop it is definitely worth checking out.
PS: See how many references to other fighting game characters readers can recognize in the fighters’ alternate colors (besides Ryuko as Ragna The Bloodege).