It’s the near future and the world has had it up to here with terrorism’s shit. In order to combat terrorism the world has united, eliminated air travel by creating trans-oceanic roadways, and eliminaed free access to the internet. A group of terrorists, known as Heaven Smiles, are able to infiltrate a diplomatic meeting at the UN and detonate an explosive. The trick being, they are the explosives. The United States and Japan are now embroiled in a battle to acquire the Yakumo Cabinet Policy, a document which is said to hold the secrets of a perfect government. Not that it matters to the Killer 7, they’re just assassins hired by the US to cripple the Japanese effort. Play as a multiple personality cornucopia where the changes in personality also change the physical body. Plunge into the depths of utter insanity in Suda 51s break out hit, Killer 7.
Killer 7 was written, designed, and directed by Goichi Suda, better known as Suda 51. It was part of the Capcom 5 project which was a Capcom’s plan to release 5 games for the Gamecube — alhtough this one would get ported to the Playstation 2. Overseeing all this was none other than Shinji Mikami of Resident Evil fame. Capcom wanted to make a new intellectual property because they thought the market was getting stale — and taking a look at 2005 the only new IP I saw was Psychonauts.
Unlike most games that were released on both the Gamecube and the Playstation 2 the Gamecube version is graphically superior. Textures are sharper and animations have more detail, especially the reload animations.
Fun Fact: Suda was very interested in professional wrestling, film noir, and multiple personalities so he put all of those topics into a blender and hit puree.
Killer 7 was released on July 7th, 2005. It’s competition was Dungeon Siege II (PC), Destroy all Humans (PS2 and XBox), and Battlefield 2 (PC).
I was drawn into the game originally by a fascination with multiple personality syndrom — partially inspired by Stephen King’s The Drawing of the Three. I wanted to see how the personas interacted with each other, or what their attitudes toward each other were. Unfortunately, although there is some character development, the game is heavily plot driven. I was sort of disappointed but it just made me more determined to find character traits wherever I could and that I might be able to glean more from the characters by studying the plot.
Killer 7 is an on-rails shooter, this means that all movement is strictly controlled. The player can go forward and backward, changing directions, or taking turns are certain junctions but has no free movement — hence being on rails like a roller coaster. Then the player can shoot enemies by entering first person mode — because shooter.
You’ve got seven killers — hence the name– to choose from at any given time. Most of them play differently except for Coyote and Dan — I guess that’s supposed to represent their rivalry. Some of them are locked at the beginning of each level and are unlocked by killing Heaven Smile or hitting a Micro Smile enemy. You can change them on the fly by using the pause menu. And don’t worry if they die, Garcian can collect their body bag and return them to life — but if Garcian dies then it’s game over.
Most of the game is gated by puzzles — to Zoe’s disappointment, there will be no Latin to translate. Most puzzles are just, “go here, pick up this thing, take it over here,” or, “Use the thief to pick the lock,” but every once and awhile the game gets clever. These puzzles and enemies safeguard Soul Shells which the Smiths need to reach the boss of the level.
There are characters in the game who are like ghosts who exist to help the Smiths. One of them is an unassuming little ghost of Harman’s first kill. This guy talks straight– or at least straighter than any of the others– and does his best to be helpful without prejudice. He’s got no hard feelings about the whole killing him thing.
The enemy design is actually quite clever. Some Smiles can only be killed by their weak point, some Smiles are giant rolling balls with faces that are their weak points. You never know what the game is going to throw at you next.
I really like the cell shaded and simple colored style of the games art. It gives the game this sort of otherworldly feeling, like it’s just off.
If you like black humor then you’ll probably get a laugh out of this game. I’m looking at you Russian Roulette scene.
The soundtrack swaps a lot from moody ambience to high intensity techno. Either way it raises the tension of the scene, making me jump at shadows, wondering when an enemy is going to attack.
The dialogue of non-living characters is some sort of garbled noise with subtitles. Sometimes I could swear I heard a word from the subtitles in the conversation. I was always trying to figure out what the original lines were. I really liked it but it’s generally not a popular opinion.
This game has got a fascination with blood. Killing a Heaven Smile without shootings its weak point causes a line of text with a blood pun to appear in the upper right hand corner of the screen. Thin blood is collected by shooting limbs off of or hitting the weak points of Heaven Smile. It’s used to heal the Smiths or use their abilities. Thick blood is acquired the same way and used to level up Smith abilities. You can only earn so much Thick blood in each level so it’s important to get as much as you can to keep the Smiths up to snuff as the game goes on. Farming Thick blood is the most boring and dull part of the game and I don’t know why it’s even there.
The plot is kind of interesting but super hard to follow. Some of that’s from the wonky translation but most of it is just not mentioned.
If you’re in the mood for immersing yourself in a mythos then this is a mythos worth immersing yourself in. The game is decently fun on its own but if you want the full story then you’re going to have to dig a little deeper online or play through it again with the subtitles on. There’s a book explaining the more nuanced parts of the plot called Hands in the Killer 7 and that explains everything really well.
Next Week: Twisted Metal Black