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Game Info:

Killer7
Developed By: Grasshopper Manufacture Inc./Engine Software BV
Published By: Capcom/NIS America, Inc.
Release Date: November 15, 2018 (Windows), July 7, 2005 (GameCube, PS2)
Available On: Windows, GameCube, PS2
Genre: Action Adventure, On-Rails Shooter
Number of Players: 1
ESRB Rating: M for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes, Strong Language
MSRP: $19.99

Thank you NIS America for sending us this game to review!

Goichi Suda, a.k.a. Suda51, is a rather (in)famous game designer out of Japan who is well known for making games that are far outside of what you might call normal. His games tend to be strangely dark, incredibly artsy, or some other setting that is unique in some important way - the main thing they are is unpredictable. After a few successes in Japan, Suda51 and his company, Grasshopper Manufacture, decided to try to release their first game to international audiences in Killer7. After many years of being a cult classic on the GameCube and PlayStation 2, they worked with NIS America to bring the game back to modern audiences with a Windows PC remaster.

In Killer7, you take on the role of a group of seven elite assassins, led by Harman Smith, who relies on Garcian Smith and the other assassins to do most of the dirty work. You can switch between them at almost any time, so if you feel like some challenge or puzzle can be better solved with one or another, you can just change out to a different one quickly.

Each character has a special skill or role, and plays somewhat uniquely as a result. (They all have the last name of Smith.) Garcian is 'The Cleaner', and his job is simply to resurrect one of the others when they die. If you die as Garcian, you get a game over screen. Dan is perhaps the most aggressive character, and can shoot extra powerful shots that are required for some bosses. Kaede is the lone female, who wields a scope pistol and can get past certain barricades by slitting her wrists and spraying them with her blood. (No, it doesn't make sense in-game, either.)

Killer7
Highlights:

Strong Points: Incredibly interesting cast of characters; engaging story; unique and memorable graphical art style; good sound design
Weak Points: Controls take a long time to get used to; some of the voice overs during cutscenes are hard to understand
Moral Warnings: Incredibly intense blood and gore, rivaling the most violent movies; nearly all forms of violence imaginable, from gunshots everywhere, to physical violence, to even physical abuse to an old man; foul language of all kinds, including 'sh*t', 'h*ll', 'd*mn', '*ss', 'b*tch', and 'f*ck'; plenty of sexual content, taken much farther than most games, including a seemingly clothed scene with sex, where a woman seems to have sex with an old man, including motions and moaning; references to masturbation; human trafficking; several women, including a playable one, wear extremely revealing clothing, cleavage, crotch shots, panties and more; uses God's name in vain; some talk of the devil; mention of creating a new faith

Kevin is quite useful in his ability to become invisible, which means he can walk right past security systems or even enemies. If you are hurting and want to run, switch to Kevin! Coyote is useful mostly for puzzles, as he can unlock padlocks and jump very high to the next floor, both of which are used situationally. Con's unique abilities are being short, so he can go under short openings, and he can run really fast. And finally, we have Mask de Smith, who is a retired wrestler. He can break through damaged walls and such, and his weapon is a grenade launcher, which sounds cooler than it is, because you can't collect blood if they die from an explosion.

Collecting blood as you defeat enemies is the means by which you gather experience, as well as heal and use some abilities. Any time you visit Harman's room inside of a level, you can trade blood for vials (which are spent on increasing the stats of each character). Some of Harman’s rooms also allow you to save, using a save system clearly inspired by the GameCube’s memory card slots. As you level up characters, they gain new abilities, or simply become more effective, improve their recoil, move faster, and so on. Unfortunately, while many enemies do respawn, you can't simply grind in the early levels and max out your characters, as the blood transference machine shuts down after a set amount of transferred blood each level. I'm sure doing otherwise would make much of the game too easy, after all.

The gameplay is an interesting mix of on-rails shooter and a bit of adventure and puzzle-solving. As you roam through each level, you press a single button to move, and another button to reverse directions. You can only move where the game allows you to go, and at each junction, a stylized menu pops up on the screen, showing you where you can go or what you can interact with. There are many places represented in the art that you can’t go to – you can only go where the game allows you to.

As you walk through levels, you may hear a creepy laugh around you. This is your cue - enemies are approaching. In order to defeat them, or even have a chance to run away, you first have to press the aim weapon button, and then scan the area in order to locate them. Once you have them in sight, you can shoot at them; most enemies require multiple shots, and some enemies require being hit in a certain place. Combat is all real-time, and reloading takes your view off of the enemies during the action, so keeping your wits about you constantly is critical. One think to note is that the combat is more like a light-gun style (though with a controller/mouse), as you can’t actually move while in aiming mode. So, in order to run towards or away from enemies, you have to stop aiming, move, and them aim again if you want to take care of them still.

The mood and atmosphere are incredibly dark and brooding, and combat is often quite tense. Many enemies move toward you in an almost zombie-like manner, and if they reach you they explode on impact, causing the screen to flash and your character to jolt violently. If more than one are too close, they can cause a chain reaction, causing tons of damage, and in many cases, death. Of course, this is enhanced by the spooky laughter, noir art style, and incredibly bloody and gory violence throughout. While most enemies die in sprays of blood that you then absorb, cutscenes make it quite clear that when people die, heads are blown apart, blood sprays everywhere (including on clothing), and even eyes and brains are dangling in graphic ways/places. This game is incredibly graphic and gory, far more than almost anything else I have played. The level of detail the graphics offer isn’t super high, but they more than make up for that with style.

If incredible blood and gore wasn’t enough, other appropriateness issues abound also.  For one, you can interact with spirits, holding significant conversations with them.  Some levels have you dealing with a cult, and said person created a new faith.  God and the devil are mentioned, though perhaps more of the latter.  ‘Oh my God’ is said.  Speaking of language, virtually every curse word, including 'sh*t', 'h*ll', 'd*mn', '*ss', 'b*tch', and 'f*ck' are used, and quite often.  

Killer7
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 86%
Gameplay - 16/20
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 9/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 4/5

Morality Score - 20%
Violence - 0/10
Language - 0/10
Sexual Content - 0/10
Occult/Supernatural - 5/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 5/10

And of course that wasn’t enough edgy content, either. Sexual content abounds; though not always a focus, there is a bit of everything. Lots of women wear very skimpy clothes, and panty/crotch shots abound, though the level of detail shown in those shots is low enough per the art style that you really don’t know for sure what you are seeing. Of course there are plenty of top shots as well, though mostly in the form of ridiculously skimpy clothing. At least one section deals with human trafficking, with a distant shot shown of women strung up with ropes. They did not appear to be wearing anything, but I am not sure on this. There were no details rendered around the genitals, which is consistent with the art style. There was a scene where a woman was having sex with an older wheelchair-bound man, complete with movements, moaning and facial expressions. The lower half of her body was off-screen, but the intention was very clear. There are also references to masturbation, including a line about guys who do so ‘four times a day’.

The art style is really neat, though low detail, as mentioned before. They use classic set pieces, like tube televisions, sharp edges and lines, and so on to make a really remarkable and memorable aesthetic. It was originally designed for the GameCube and PS2, and the resolution and fonts and some other effects were improved in this PC remaster. The game performs really well, and even Intel GPUs will have no trouble running this game at full resolution most likely (it ran perfectly at 720p on my GPD Win 2). The PC version is an excellent port, and if you still must experience this polarizing classic, then this is the best way to do so. The sound design, as already mentioned is also excellent. The music sets the mood, the cutscenes draw you in even more, and the sound effects really seal the deal. From a game design perspective, this game really does quite a few things right.

Killer7 is an incredibly dark, and honestly memorable work of playable art, but in the process, is also one of the least appropriate things I have ever reviewed. There are interesting set pieces, including international politics, the UN, conspiracies, and more – while also being set in a world of violence, gore, death, and sex. If you are into the darkest, most edgy content imaginable, then there is a lot to like in Killer7, and the story is actually quite interesting. But as a Christian, it is very difficult to recommend this in any fashion. I’m a bit surprised it avoided an AO rating, though considering how much R-rated movies can put in them without crossing that line, I suppose it does make sense. Just treat this the same way as you would treat those – absolutely not for children under any circumstances whatsoever, and maybe not for you, either.