Katana Zero is an Askiisoft game that I picked up during the steam summer sale 2019 towards the end of June/beginning of July. It was on a big discount and I picked it up for a little over $2. With that price tag, the game was a steal. Set in a cyberpunkish world, with the neon-futuristic aesthetic of a postwar nation, you take on the role of a Samurai with the ability to slow down time and hack and slash his way to his objective. It is available for PC and the Nintendo Switch via Steam, GOG, and the Nintendo Switch eShop.
An ex-soldier working as a mercenary/assassin, nicknamed ‘The Dragon’, the player takes on the task of completing different missions/dossiers from your therapist/employer. I can’t say much about the story aspect of the game without spoiling but it does take a lot of twists and turns. It has a lot of depth, running a very intriguing and enthralling plot-based, the likes of which I have never seen before. It easily got me invested within the span of the first mission and I never looked back. Playing your way through the story is incredibly satisfying, fulfilling and enjoyable while evoking emotions along the way and allowing the payer to empathise with the protagonist. Excellently crafted. It has different paths and routes that the player can choose to go down and different aspects to each portion (or tape) of the players’ journey. Sometimes the game does feel a little slow, and expects you to have patience with its timed response mechanic, but that all adds to the charm of the game, even if it was something I am still a little on the fence about.
The game has beautiful artwork, and each sprite is exquisitely detailed, bringing out the moods and setting the atmosphere perfectly with the assistance of the soundtrack, which changes for almost every portion of every level, blending in and fading out with each other, forming a seamless transition which really aids with the flow of the game. For the most part of the game I agreed with the aesthetic art and animation choices however at a few portions, it did feel out of place (such as a portion with a minecart – didn’t feel like it belonged). Whoever was in charge of art and animation did an incredible job. The soundtrack and effects as well. The gritty atmosphere the lack of voice acting and the significance of the music created really intensified the sense of dread that loomed over the player throughout the game. Each tape/level has its own mood and atmosphere that is intricately crafted through its uniqueness in art, animation and music. Truly a completely new package in every mission, keeping the same at heart.
For the actual gameplay aspect, it was rather straight forward. The player can run, creep, jump, roll, pick-up and throw objects, slash enemies, deflect bullets, and slash enemies. All with the added superpower of slowing time when needed. This helps when trying to deflect bullets, dodging enemy attacks, or navigating and creating a bloodbath. The combat systems in the game are highly rewarding, as enemies die from a single hit and so do you. If you die, the level is reset. The multitude of enemy types and combinations makes every fight a unique one, especially with the environmental traps and bombs/grenades/canisters at your disposal to find and use around the map. The gameplay feels smooth and incredibly satisfying to play through. It isn’t too difficult, but the game can be very challenging at times.
It didn’t take very long to complete Katana Zero but it was a fantastic experience. With the promise of DLC to come, I am sure that I will be buying it. For anyone with a couple of hours and a couple of dollars to spare, Katana Zero is an excellent way to spend a Saturday.