Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Tech: Katana Zero

Katana Zero is an interesting little game from Askiisoft. As you might be able to tell from the pixel art aesthetic, this is a semi-retro action title that mixes elements of Ninja Gaiden, Hotline Miami, and Max Payne into a frothy neo-noir narrative:

You play as an amnesiac samurai assassin in a neon dystopia. Your strikes are almost always instantly lethal to enemies, you can reflect bullets with your sword, and you can even slow down time. The catch is that you are just as vulnerable as the goons you are slaying, and any hit from anything is instant death.

Or it would be, were it not for a strange drug called Chronos that gives you superhuman precognition. Each level is broken down into small sections that you can repeat ad nauseam, with deaths being rewound and explained away as merely failed plans (sort of like Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time or the end fight in the second Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes flick). Chronos also figures heavily into the plot, which turns trippy in a way I won't spoil here.

I liked Katana Zero overall, but I wish there were more of it - more gameplay mechanics, more enemies, more levels. The whole thing is over and done with in a few hours, and there aren't too many secrets or challenges to hold your interest - this is no Celeste.  Still, if you can find it on sale (I played it on Microsoft Game Pass), it's well worth a try.

Rating: 80/100


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