Katana Zero is a sprite action game, cause I don’t think it actually has a genre. You play as an amnesiac war vet named “The Dragon”, at least that’s what the media calls you. Your other name is dun dun duunnnnnnnnn Zero, shocking isn’t it? Though, that name even might be a code name, not really sure. Your character is an assassin, working for… his… therapist… yeah… anyways, the game’s plot is straightforward because the game is very mission based and there’s a clear reason for each mission even the ones not about contract killing. However, beyond that, it’s fairly vague in a lot of areas, like character history, world building, etc. There’s some information dumps, but none of them have any real meaning or explanation behind them so all of it is kinda moot.
In the game Zero has a precognition ability. He starts in a level, turns on a music player, and then thinks about how he’s going to clear the area he’s in. Because of this, your deaths don’t mean a lot, cause they’re just precognitive plans that didn’t work, so it restarts that area for you to try it again. Eventually, when you complete it, you can watch your playback of the successful mission. The reason there’s a playback to watch is because you also have the ability to slow time for a short period of time, during which, you can slow bullets enough to hit them with your sword and send them back towards the enemies to kill them. However, while time is slowed, you aren’t any faster either, so if you swing your sword and miss, it still needs to reset the blade to swing again meaning you’ll probably die if you don’t swing in time. You’re also invincible when dodging so you can avoid shotgun pellets that are going to ruin your day. Beyond that, it’s just about single sword cuts to kill every enemy. Later on, you deal with enemies who have different weapons and even some with shields you can’t cut through. Because of that, you have to figure out new ways to deal with different enemies, or be like me and die, a lot, before you happen across the right technique and have to figure out why that worked to actually understand it, cause I’m stupid sometimes.
There are some talking sections in the game where you can make choices; these DO impact the game to various degrees. Some of them open up an optional boss even, which I can tell you from experience, is a bitch to beat. Most of the game though is just running around killing the fuck out of a bunch of baddie bitches and moving on. There’s a couple boss fights, but mostly the game just gives you more and harder basic enemies to fight through and an occasional mini puzzle to help you kill them.
After you beat the game though, it unlocks a speedrun mode, which has a bunch of options in it to help you speedrun. It also unlocks hard mode in the speedrun, which changes enemies, their behaviors, and even bosses to make the game much harder. Lastly, it unlocks another level. You can get access and replay old levels as often as you’d like from the continue screen. Every level is a VHS tape and, for those of you who’ve never seen them, they’re boxes that contain film… you probably haven’t seen that either, it’s a black band of stuff that has a picture on it. VHS tapes are ye old version of Blu-rays and DVDs, get it? Got it? Good. Since each VHS tape is a level it also has various areas in it you can start from which was not a feature for VHS tapes… so it probably should have been a DVD or Blu-ray instead but whatever. Often, this is a starting dream sequence, a meeting with your psychiatrist/handler, the start of the mission itself, the midpoint of the mission if it’s a long one, and the end point when you go home from the mission. Not every VHS has the same amount of points you can start at, but those are the ones it would have. The meetings with the shrink, end points, and sometimes at the start of missions themselves, there are the conversations I was talking about that impact the game. Anyways, now that I’ve explained the VHS stuff, the new area is a place where you can get unlockable weapons to replace your katana with that have special features, however, you have to find the key for each of the five doors throughout the levels. Only one key was hard to get, the rest were a piss take it was so easy. The weapons are all useful to a degree, except one, so they’re worth unlocking, and they can be used in the speedruns, so doubly worth it.
It took me around four hours to beat the game, which netted me maybe four or five of the twenty-two achievements, cause I hadn’t paid attention to what achievements were in the game, and it took me just over eight hours to get everything but the speedrun and the hard speedrun achievements which I haven’t even attempted. This being said, the game can supposedly be beaten in under thirty minutes, how… I have no fucking clue to be honest, but it’s doable.
I have to say, I really enjoyed the game. There wasn’t anywhere near as much flickering as I expected, and it didn’t move too fast most of the time even for my blind ass to play it. I honestly figured I’d have to use a program to slow the game down to play it but I didn’t, which was a shocker. The story is okay, but it’s not great. I would have preferred some more information about the world and the back-stories and stuff, but you’re an amnesiac, so I guess that’s to be expected. However, they have set up an interesting story outside of that bit though. The game annoyingly ends on a cliffhanger, which is used to set up the next game, or maybe some DLC I’m not sure. I’d usually say it’s for the next game, but they stated they were making free DLC for the game. I don’t know how many pieces of free DLC there’s going to be as they already released both a speedrun mode and a hard difficulty for it. As such, it might be more free DLC, though I doubt a story expansion would be free, or it might be planned for the next game, which I’d be fine with. The fact that they added free DLC to the game is pretty awesome of devs to do in and of itself, and that is really praiseworthy.
Katana ZERO was developed by: Askiisoft
$15: Cut your way to victory with Katana ZERO. Yes I know that’s cheesy I like it anyways, fuck you.
A copy of the game was gifted by a fan.
darkmikasonfire has awarded Katana ZERO The Indie Gamer Team Seal of Approval.