Killer is Dead, a title by Japanese developer Grasshopper Manufacture, has been kept under wraps since its original announcement last April. That changed with this week's issue of Famitsu magazine, which offered the first look at the the latest collaboration between Grasshopper and publisher Kadokawa Games — the same collaboration that brought us Lollipop Chainsaw last year.
"Development has already been ongoing for an extended period of time," wrote Grasshopper boss Goichi "Suda51" Suda in his Famitsu column. "It's the first game in the 'assassin' series that Grasshopper Manufacture has worked on in a while, a title that picks up where Killer7 and No More Heroes left off."
Like the two games Suda mentioned, Killer is Dead features a unique shaded graphical style that gives the game an avant-garde look even as it depicts gory violence. The visuals have been upgraded from No More Heroes for current-gen consoles, and the screenshots Famitsu published are looking pretty sharp. "It's not trying to regress into the past," Suda said. "We're trying to make a game that we'd only be able to make right now, at this point in time. The result is seen in our unique high-contrast shading seen in the graphics, as well as the high speed wrestling-like action."
"We're trying to make a game that we'd only be able to make right now, at this point in time."
Set in a near-future where lunar tourism and cyber-enhancements have become commonplace, Killer is Dead stars Mondo Zappa, a 35-year-old man who suddenly receives a job offer from the Brian Execution Firm. An undercover national organization run by the half-cyborg Brian Roses, the group sends Mondo around the world in order to execute a variety of assassins, from cunningly evil geniuses to people who seem to actually seek out death at Mondo's hands.
If this sounds a bit like the plot of No More Heroes, then at least Mondo's no Travis Touchdown. A sort of cybernetic James Bond in terms of looks, the newbie executioner (whose sense of fashion would serve him well in the TV series Mad Men) has two weapons at hand: a sword in his right hand for close-quarters combat, and a weapon embedded in his left arm Mega Man-style that can be converted into guns, drills, and other objects as you go through the game. This cybernetic weapon can also absorb the blood of Mondo's enemies, letting him unleash a special "Adrenalin Burst" sword strike to one-hit kill his foes.
"It's the story of a man who doesn't show himself much in the public world," Suda explained, "but still worms his way into society and mercilessly eliminates the evil dispersed in it. It's a personal story, not one that's conscious of the chaos going on in the real world at the moment, but you might get more than a taste of that in the end anyway."
The game is due out this summer in Japan. Suda promised readers that more info would be released in an interview published in next week's Famitsu.