Katana Zero - Review



Introduction

Katana Zero by developer Askiisoft is something quite special. It’s a 2D platformer with a unique and interesting story that really grabbed my attention. I enjoyed the neo-city theme that was implemented and it fits with the pixel graphics perfectly. There is a lot to explain about this game, and I will be careful to completely avoid spoilers as Katana Zero is story-focused.


Pros and Cons

Pros

-An interesting dystopian story with many twists

-Multiple paths on how to progress through the story with dialogue options

-Combat is fluid, with having the ability to slow down time to deflect bullets

-Different ways to complete levels by either killing all the enemies or being stealthy

-Challenging gameplay where one fatal mistake can lead to death

-Nice pixel graphics that are very nice to look at

-Awesome soundtrack that fits with the missions


Cons

-Katana Zero requires the player to have a quick reaction time at certain points in the game

-The keyboard and mouse controls are wonky


Story

In the neo-city of New Mecca, there is a mass-murdering katana-wielding assassin who wears a bathrobe named Zero. This assassin takes kill contracts from his psychiatrist who supplies him with his daily dose of medicine. He lives in the Third District, a rough area of town with neighbors that are quite loud at night. When sleeping, Zero has nightmares of his past, which he discusses with his psychiatrist. That’s all I can really say about the story, there is much more to it but I want to avoid spoiling the story.


Katana Zero is a very story-heavy game, with that said it manages to bring a sense of mystery around itself after each mission. It’s like Hotline Miami, with all these questions that you will be asking yourself, like what’s the point in doing all of this killing? However, this is something you can change, you can choose to follow the orders given to you by the psychiatrist or not. This helps to bring some depth into the game.


There are also multiple dialog options that you can choose to unravel the story with. You can act nice to the people around you and play it cool or you can be aggressive to everyone around you, it’s an interesting way to interact with the environment. You can also choose to break the flow of the story in your own ways at certain points and it’s something very unique that I found very interesting, it messes with your head.



Gameplay

Katana Zero has some challenging gameplay that you will have to muster your way through to progress. You can kill all the enemies in one hit, however, you can also die in one hit and if you do you will have to redo the level from the start. There are a few objects you can pick up like bottles or statues that you can use to throw at enemies to block a bullet or kill them. There is also a smoke grenade which is honestly my favorite one to use as some enemies will lose track of you to allow for some easy kills.



Some missions will require you to be stealthy and this can add some more challenge to the mix on those levels. However, you can also choose to not do that and kill all the enemies on the level. This can add some different dialogue options from different characters and it can proceed the story in different ways.



If you feel up to the challenge, you can also go and play the game on hard mode. In this difficulty, stages will have new variants of existing enemies that will have new ways to attack. Enemies also have increased reaction time and some will shoot you much faster than before so be careful.


Zero has the ability to slow down time for at least a few seconds where he can deflect bullets or dodge certain attacks. This ability can be useful and will save you more times than you think. I should note that you can only use it for a certain amount of time before it needs to recharge. The main things that I found difficult to reflect in this mode were the shotguns and Machine gunners.



Katana Zero's gameplay is very fast-paced and you will need some quick reaction time to dodge certain attacks. It will ask a lot from you so you will have to get used to what the game will throw at you in terms of difficulty. Another thing that I should mention is that the controls on the keyboard and mouse are a little weird, as the cursor is what direction Zero will swing his sword at. So let’s say you have your mouse aimed upwards, Zero will always do an up attack with his katana and this could lead to your death if you were not paying attention to where the cursor is located. I highly recommend using the controller as you don’t have to worry about messing up your slashes.


Graphics and Performance

I love the pixel art graphics that Katana Zero has going for it with its neo-like city. Each area you visit is done beautifully and I wish I could look at some of the areas more often but the time limit prevents me from doing so. I tested the game on an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 3GB, AMD Ryzen 5 1500X Quad-Core Processor 3.50, and 16 GB of RAM. There were no issues present while I was playing and this game should run on almost any computer with no problems.



Katana Zero's gameplay is very fast-paced and you will need some quick reaction time to dodge certain attacks. It will ask a lot from you so you will have to get used to what the game will throw at you in terms of difficulty. Another thing that I should mention is that the controls on the keyboard and mouse are a little weird, as the cursor is what direction Zero will swing his sword at. So let’s say you have your mouse aimed upwards, Zero will always do an up attack with his katana and this could lead to your death if you were not paying attention to where the cursor is located. I highly recommend using the controller as you don’t have to worry about messing up your slashes.


Graphics and Performance

I love the pixel art graphics that Katana Zero has going for it with its neo-like city. Each area you visit is done beautifully and I wish I could look at some of the areas more often but the time limit prevents me from doing so. I tested the game on an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 3GB, AMD Ryzen 5 1500X Quad-Core Processor 3.50, and 16 GB of RAM. There were no issues present while I was playing and this game should run on almost any computer with no problems.


Hit The Floor

Overdose

Meatgrinder


Final Verdict

If you enjoy 2D platformers that provide a challenging experience then I highly recommend Katana Zero. It has similar things to that of Hotline Miami in terms of graphics, soundtrack, gameplay, and story. The game is on the shorter side, maybe five or six hours total, so I do recommend purchasing when a sale is going on.


There is also a DLC that is being worked on and from what I hear it is going to be free which will add more to the story. If you plan on playing this game keep a lookout for this.


Steam Store Page


My Original Review