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KILL La KILL the game: IF

Kill La KIll

If you had the opportunity to show your bullies what you are made of, would you take that chance? Would you do what it takes to prove them wrong? Kill la Kill the Game: IF is a brand-new fighting game set within the universe of Kill La Kill where players strap on their Kamui and unleash their fiercest powers in a battle for righteousness. The game is developed by A+ Games, Studio TRIGGER, and Arc Systems Works. Having followed Kill la Kill the Game: IF since its announcement, and having the special opportunity for a hands-on demo at ANIME NYC last November, I can honestly say it is one of the best fighting games of 2019, and perhaps one the best titles to be released this year.

Ryoko Matoi is a no-nonsense woman who uses her anger to her advantage in her quest to seek her vengeance on the one who killed her father. Her attitude takes her to the steps of Honnouji Academy, where she comes face-to-face with the president of the student council, Satsuki Kiryuuin.  Ryoko challenges Satsuki to find out who killed her Dad, but she is quickly overwhelmed by the student council, otherwise known as The Elite Four. Defeated and humiliated, Ryoko flees to her father’s burned-out mansion where a Kamui named Senketsu latches on to her and transforms her into a super-powered fighter. In the world of Kill La Kill, clothing is power, rank, and authority. They are created out of specially woven threads, known as “Life Fibers” that integrate with the wearer and grant them super-human abilities. With her new Kamui, Senketsu, and her faithful friend and neighbor, Mako Mankanshoku, Ryoko seeks to take down Honnouji Academy and find answers as to what happened to her dad. The deeper she goes, however, the more it becomes apparent that something far more sinister is happening behind the scenes.

Kill la Kill the Game: IF is a fighting game where players fight one or multiple opponents in arena combat, like Bandai Namco’s My Hero: One’s Justice. It is highly recommended that players select the story campaign so they can learn the fundamentals of combat. The campaign details events of the anime, and even provides original alternate interpretations of the events. After getting comfortable with the controls, players can choose to play Free Battle, Online Multiplayer, or even Endless Wave mode. Players can also view the gallery where they can learn more about the characters or listen to music and sound effects.  To unlock everything the game has to offer, players can play in both the single-player and multiplayer game modes.

The game has an easy to learn, but hard to master control and gameplay system. In the arena, players are free to run and move about a large battlespace with the camera fixed into a wide, 3rd-person perspective. Players can unleash basic and heavy by using the Square, and Triangle buttons.  Holding down either button allows for a stronger attack, including ranged attacks. Holding X makes your character jump while double-tapping X makes your character fly into an opponent. This can be a useful strategy as some enemies, such as Nonon, rely on long-range attacks. To guard, players can press the R1 button which can block all attacks except wide-break attacks. As players fight, they build their special attack meter which allows players to unleash the full power of their Kamui. By holding the L1 button and then pressing either Triangle, Square, or Circle, the player can initiate devastating attacks, known as break attacks. Each attack is entirely different, depending on the chosen character, and are essential for achieving victory. L1+Square is the general close-range attack. L1+ Triangle is a long-range break attack that sends large blasts of energy towards the opponent. L1+ Circle is a wide-break attack. This is perfect for extreme close-quarters because it shatters the guard of the enemy and causes immense damage.

The last mechanic players will learn about is the “Bloody Valor” mechanic. This is a special mechanic that can be activated when the players’ special meter reaches a certain threshold and is activated when the opponent is within close range. Bloody Valor is essentially a game of Rocks, Papers, Scissors. In this mode, players need to choose between one of three attacks:  “Taunt (rock),” “Provoke (scissors),” and “Mock (paper).” After this, players choose to receive SP recovery, health recovery, or double-damage.  Once players have made their choice, a cinematic battle plays out. Whoever wins the match will gain that special attribute, while the loser loses theirs. This can give players a small edge in combat, but it is by no means a hugely advantageous perk. Using break attacks, along with Bloody Valor attacks are extremely important for combat, but it is down to the player’s speed, maneuverability, and skill if they wish to achieve victory. The fighting system provides instant enjoyment for players because they do not need to memorize combo lists or utilize impossible input speeds. Kinetic energy coupled with fun and enjoyable combat are ideal to the gameplay experience In Kill la Kill the Game: IF.

Kill la Kill the Game: IF has amazing visuals that succeed in capturing the energetic feel of the anime. From the appearance of the characters to the particle effects in the arena, the game embraces its anime origins and the distinctly unique style of Studio TRIGGER. The colors, movements, animations, typography, and graphics are all seemingly ripped straight from the show. The only slight difference I have found is that the transformation sequences from the anime aren’t as prominently shown in the game as they were in the anime. Knowing of the anime prior to playing this game, this is hardly a surprise. While there are other video games based on well-established anime that do an admirable job in translating the visual aspects from the show to the game, Kill la Kill the Game: IF is the best I have ever seen. Another awesome attribute this game has is that the English cast from the original anime returned for the game. The English cast, which includes David Vincent, Christine Marie, Carrien Kenana, and Erica Mendez, reprise their roles for Kill la Kill the Game: IF which is rare in most games based off anime. With the return of the original English cast, the experience playing the game becomes extra special for fans of the anime. Overall, from a presentation standpoint, Kill la Kill the Game: IF is exceptional and should be commended as one of the finest examples of visual and audio translation.

The gameplay of the game is not only incredibly exciting to play, but it is also innovative. The combat is lightning fast and easy to pick up, but never overwhelming. The game is cinematic and stylish, but it remains extraordinarily responsive. The roster contains characters that are strong, fierce, and determined.  The controls are smooth and the combat mechanics flow nicely. It is a remarkable gameplay experience and like absolutely nothing that I have ever played before. To put it simply, everything in Kill la Kill the Game: IF works. Each moment feels like a grand, epic rivalry of power and control. The game looks like the anime,  plays like the anime, and is essentially the definitive gameplay experience of Kill La Kill the anime.  It is a tremendous amount of fun and a great example for other companies to follow.

The only thing missing from the game is long-term content. The single-player can be completed in a matter of six to eight hours, offering some replayability. The other modes do provide instant enjoyment as well, and the quest to unlock everything in the Gallery is fun; however, having more content in single-player or crossing over with other Arc Systems Works games would have been magnificent. Another possibility would have been to expand on the lore of the other characters in the anime. The anime provides an immersive world and exciting story, but it appears they focused on one section of the anime for most of the game I wouldn’t expect the entire anime to be compressed into the entire game, though it would have been intriguing to explore the world that the anime established further. Even though I enjoyed the game thoroughly, I still felt like there could be more added to the game. This made me feel like the $60 price tag might be rather high.

Strong, fierce, and blood boiling. Kill la Kill the Game: IF is one of the best fighting games of the year and certainly one of 2019’s biggest highlights. The gameplay is tremendously accessible and dynamic for experienced fighters. The visuals bring the anime show to life. The sounds and voice work have made me experience the same emotions I had when watching the original anime. The sensation of wild determination and giving it all is strong in Kill la Kill the Game: IF. The team at Arc Systems Works and A+ Games, along with Studio TRIGGER should be commended for what they accomplished. This game will lay the foundation for incredible games based on anime in the future. Studio TRIGGER has created some of the most world-renowned shows in the industry, and the potential of seeing a game based off of SSSS Gridman, Gurren Lagen, or the upcoming Paramore, is quite possible. Kill la Kill the Game: IF is an outstanding fighting game. Don’t lose your way.

Kill la Kill the Game: IF is available for PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC for the price of $59.99. is also available physically at GameStop.

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