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PAX WEST 2018: Katana Zero Slashes Away On PC

One of the coolest parts of PAX WEST 2018 and any convention is discovering a hidden secret that no one else knows about. As I went along my business at PAX WEST in the Washington State Convention Center, I came upon a hint of something happening outside the center.

A small group of independent game devs had set up a small gaming lounge, complete with three very anticipated games to play.  I made my way downtown to the legendary Pike Place alley, and after some careful searching, I made it to the address. Initially, I was puzzled, as it was clear where the location was. but then, like something out of a video game, I discovered a door. I went through the door, ascended the stairway, and discovered one of the most relaxing spaces at PAX WEST.

It was the Funk Lounge. Three games to play, free food and drinks, and relaxing seats encompassed the Funk lounge. Three games were on display, which included ToJam and Earl: back Into The Groove, Wander Song, and Katana Zero. Katana Zero was originally unveiled in 2016, and since then, has made great progress. As it nears completion and launch, I found myself playing Katana Zero, and having a very difficult time putting it down.

Katana Zero takes place in a  dystopic city, gettings itself back together after a devastating war. The people go about their daily business, including a particular woman, donning a Japanese robe and a sheathed katana. She is on a “doctor’s visit” and she is about to get her “prescription” for the week. After, the visit, she proceeds to her destination. Her “doctor’s visit” was an evaluation of her mental state. Her “prescription” was a target, ordered to be discreetly eliminated, as well as an experimental drug, known as Chronos. As she unsheathes her katana, she puts on her walkman, pushes “play,” gets the mood going, and proceed with her mission.

Katana Zero is a brutal action game in which players must use the element of surprise, and precise attacks, to deal devastating blows to the enemy, as well as their final target. Players have speed, agility, and the sheer sharpness of their katana to complete their mission. Who these people are and what they do is a mystery, left o be discovered by the player. However, they don’t like you, and they will eliminate you on sight. The objective is to survive.

One of the biggest difference that Katana Zero has with other similar action games is its sense of story, mystery, and even humanity. Most action games, there is a basic narrative that carries you through from mission to mission, but Katana Zero has a mysterious story that I was intrigued to discover more of.

The main character is reminiscent of an asset from The Bourne series. She knows how to wield her blade, slay her enemies, and is loyal to her mission. However, she has forgotten her memory, and it is interspersed through a series of cryptic flashbacks. She interacts with other characters, including her boss, but the player has a choice in between the conversation. If the statement that is a direct, confrontational statement, but if players take their time with the conversation, they can use a different response. Yellow statements are assertive and white is calm. Using these statements wisely will have direct and indirect effects on your mission and mission outlines.

As for the gameplay and combat in katana Zero, it is extremely polished. Movement, dashing, and slashing are very responsive, making the game rather fair for the players. However, players are not invincible, and they will die in one hit. Fortunately, players are skilled with dashing and using their katana wisely. Players can dodge and avoid enemy fire, and then use their blade to dispatch foes with impunity and satisfaction. The combination of these elements leads to a game that, despite dying repeatedly, I didn’t grow tired of. Each successful level felt like a small reward, and the VHS-tape styles replay of each level made the success that much more satisfying.

During my demo, I fought armed guards, brass-knuckled bouncers, and even sword-wielding sentry’s. Taking these bad guys down was not easy, requiring skilling and tight agility, but each dispatch was brutal and impactful. Timing was everything, as enemies that go too close would be within range to eliminate the players. Players cannot spam the attack button in Katana Zero, meaning each swipe has to be timed carefully. This is most especially true with the sword-wielding sentry’s. Those particular enemies have their own blade, attempting to brutally dispatch you. if you time your attack right, you can parry the attack, stun the sentry, then successfully defeat the sentry. Overall, the combat in Katana Zero is exciting, brutal, and refreshing. It gives players a chance to succeed while providing a solid challenge.

Katana Zero is looking to be an arresting action game that will challenge the player, and deliver an extremely satisfying action experience, coupled with a solid story. The game is slated for release by the end of 2018, with consoles, such as the Nintendo Switch, possible.

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