Kill La Kill is a popular anime involving copious amounts of fan service, comedy and OTT battles, what could be more suited to the 3D fighter genre? Does it offer enough to stand out from its peers or does it get lost in a faceless crowd?
Kill La Kill: If developed by A-Plus, over seen by Studio Trigger with assistance from Arc System Works has enough name power behind it to get any “Anime Fighting Game” fan salivating over the thought of it. For those uninitiated you have the minds behind the anime and the creators of Guilty Gear/BlazBlue/Dragon Ball FighterZ working on this title.
On paper it’s a dream team, it certainly spoke strong enough to me to get me interested in an anime/manga I only had 2 episodes of exposure into. The first caveat for me was when the initial trailer dropped and I noticed the genre of the game, it’s a 3D brawler much in the vein of My Hero Academia, One Piece, Dragon Ball Xenoverse, Saint Seiya, Jump Force, you get the general idea that it’s already heavily populated real estate.
Now full disclosure, I’m not a huge fan of the genre, there are exceptions such as MHA and DBZX but I feel they don’t hold enough depth for me BUT as there are exceptions I was happy enough to stay the course and see how Kill La Kill:IF fit in.
The main attraction for Kill La Kill: IF is the story mode, this follows Satsuki and Ryuko through 10 chapters each of a “What If” fan fiction style saga. When I say main attraction I mean it, despite the glorious menu screen when you first load the game up you have Options and Story Mode, you don’t unlock Training till midway through the first story and then online modes when you finish the first story.
It’s a puzzling decision to say the least that they would lock standard content behind the story but I would guess that the studios wanted everyone to experience the story they crafted (not on YouTube or Twitch though!) you’re outta luck if you want to just jump straight into online battles.
The story mode as previously mentioned is set across 10 chapters combining cutscene with fights, the ratio is more to cutscene than battles and features some hefty loading. The presentation can’t be knocked, it looks and animates so close to the anime where you can see a lot of passion went into the project.
If you have played any 3D fighter from Naruto to Jump Force you’ll know exactly how this game plays. If you haven’t touched the genre before, the battles are like a giant, fast paced version of Rock, Paper, Scissor. Weak attack, Strong Attack, Guard Break, Special Attacks all cancel each other out and it’s all down to you to act quick enough. You also have a burst attack which goes into a more literal RPS game which can modify the battle ala Health Regen or Extra Damage.
You can move freely around the 3D arenas which all have their own distinctive look even if they are a little sparse. The special moves cut into some nice looking cutscene and the battles could easily be confused for something out of the anime, at least for the first few.
You’ll notice pretty quick, and this isn’t just a knock against this game but the genre, the battles tend to get very samey, very quick. Repetitive combo strings over and over again mean you’ll be over the game far sooner than you would want to.
There is a slight deviation in the muli-person battles where you’ll fight hordes of faceless goons much akin to a Musou title. There are also a few “Battle Royale” style matches where you’ll be facing off against multiple opponents and that’s where the game really shines.
So outside of the Story Mode you have the standard online options, a training mode, gallery, survival and Multi-Man battle, no Arcade style mode and no trial modes, the mode offerings are painfully thin, especially when Story is 6 hours split between cutscene and Battle.
Another thing that’s lacking with this title is the roster, clocking in with around 10 characters and few dlc to come it’s one of the smaller ones. Fortunately each character has enough little quirks and nuances to seperate them from each other and stays truthful enough to the source material
Kill La Kill: IF is a title that has an obvious amount of passion pouring through its veins, the presentation is untouchable. It’s for that very fact I couldn’t write the game off completely, it hasn’t held my attention and I’m gutted about that as I wanted to love it, unfortunately it’s just a little too thin in all the wrong places for me to enjoy it long term or suggest to anyone but hardcore fans of the series.