Developed by A+ Games Published by ARC System Works, PQube Reviewed on PlayStation 4, also available on Switch
On October 2013 Studio Trigger put itself on the anime landscape map. It released Kill La Kill, a relentlessly stylish anime that very rarely lets itself of the throttle. In my mind it was the day anime was saved. It had a certain style and brashness about it that was just not there at the time…and almost hasn’t been since. Needless to say I was a little sad when the series reached its conclusion the following year in March. Kill La Kill has been fairly dormant since then but good ole Arc System Works is always ready to bring the hype. Kill La Kill is back in an incredibly stylish new 3D brawler! Time to put on our Kamui and wild!
Kill La Kill IF will certainly first grab you with its art style. It’s built in 3D and does a great job of emulating a 2D aesthetic. There is strong use of lighting and shading and there are some moments that are really striking that will keep your attention. The style does show its seams a little bit in certain places, but when in motion the frantic nature of combat covers the few minor instances quite well. Even when there are minor things that stick out a bit, the essence of what made the show so striking is captured. There was clearly some passion for the series in this project. The story mode makes use of this style to tell a new tale well rooted in the original story but still diverges into a new path.
Watching for all the little details and the way things flow is definitely a nice bit of eye candy, especially as a fan. The menus are especially cool as they make use of the characters’ unique designs and the powerful font style the series is also famous for. While the story mode is a short experience, it tells a fun alternate path the story could’ve followed. If you are not familiar with The show, there’s quite a bit you will not understand at first. I really do recommend watching the show first. But if you are looking to sample the chaos and fan service aspects of this series, IF is a fairly good shallow end of the pool. But I do have to emphasize that it is short, it took me maybe 3 hours at most. Please do be aware that you must complete the story mode to be able to unlock online play, free battle, and the training mode.
Gameplay is another aspect where IF really shines. The core gameplay is very easy to understand conceptually and I picked up on it in maybe 15-20 minutes of play. The fight takes place in an arena that ranges from small to really big. Every character has a close range attack, a projectile, a dash move that allows for quick movement, and a heavy attack that allows you to break through blocks. You can make a very wide variety of combos with each of these options with simple button combinations. As you perform combos and receive damage, you will build up a special meter that allows you powerful and downright bad ass power moves that can dish out a ton of damage. They really give you the feel of each character’s abilities.
The last major mechanic is Bloody Valor. Using half your gauge for this option gives you two additional options, a defensive burst that allows you to escape a combo, or to start a rock-paper-scissors style fight that can grant you bonuses: damage buffs, health recovery or even refilling your special meter. Using either will temporarily stop you from gaining energy if used, but triggering the Bloody Valor mini game will allow you a chance to end the match almost immediately. Some of these made me jump up in excitement, something I haven’t had happen in a while. IF also sports intense voice acting in both English and Japanese. Having a chance to listen to the game’s English dub actually made me want to go back and rewatch the show in English. Thanks to the actors’ intense performances and the stellar sound design, the immersion runs quite deep. Or rather it does when the camera behaves.
Despite the small roster size, the 10 total playable options are each very diverse in their strengths, weaknesses, and unique traits. Playing online is a lot of fun because it runs incredibly well and because the majority of the cast is fun to explore and play as. The matchmaking can take a bit of time but other than that it is a solid experience.