Where do I even begin with a game like killer7? This is undoubtedly a one of a kind game, so to see it ported over steam, I was kind of stunned. Stunned that after all this time it was getting more recognition, but also because now a whole new generation would be able to enjoy this eye twitch of a game (And I mean that in a good way) but I had my worries. While some ports go smoothly, others are riddled with issues and frankly just too old to be properly implemented on current generation hardware, so I went into killer7’s steam release with a level of cautious skepticism. killer7 originally released on Nintendo’s Gamecube and was the first title made by Grasshopper Manufacture Inc to receive localisation in the United States, though sadly it sold poorly but developed a cult following for the strange, yet well executed game that it is. I’ll try and break this review up and go over things one at a time, but before that I should go over the plot (or try to)
Basically, killer7 takes place in an alternate version of earth where geopolitical politics took humanity in the direction of global denuclearization through something called “fireworks”, an event wherein the world’s nuclear powers discharged all of their nuclear weapons into the upper atmosphere at once to dispose of them as a sign of global peace. Afterward, the internet was no longer accessible to the general public and all air travel was replaced by intercontinental expressways, both being actions taken to prevent terrorism and pandemics from spreading. Drastic but effective and with the added bonus of controlling the general populace. Before long a group of terrorists seemingly unaffected by these measures appears named ‘Heaven Smile’ and begins targeting the UN and the International Ethics Committee.
To make matters worse, the members of ‘Heaven Smile’ are humans infected with a virus which gives them an insatiable urge to kill and some members that are produced in factories are modified to have an organ that works much like a bomb that they can detonate at will, which is ‘Heaven Smile’s’ main form of attack against their targets. That’s where killer7 comes in, a group of elite assassins lead by Harmen Smith, a disabled man with an affliction called ‘Multifoliate Personae Phenomenon’ in which he is able to shape shift into various deceased members of his group after he absorbed their souls post death. Adding another layer of complexity, the dominant personality of the absorbed souls, deceased killer7 member Garcian Smith had the ability to revive fellow personae so in a way, Harmen’s comrades live on, though inside his head where he gives orders to Garcian. Very inception meets X-Men’s Mystique. Government agent Christopher Mills hires ‘killer7’ through Garcian when Garcian’s consciousness is awake and sends them on a mission against an old friend of Harmen’s named Kun Lan who is essentially patient zero of the Heaven Smile virus via his Hand of God ability.
So yeah, a pretty complicated back-story but also a pretty interesting one. It’s not hard to see why this was such a cult hit, nor why it saw poor sales to the majority who just didn’t ‘get’ it at the time of the initial release. Nevertheless we have an updated version now so lets go over some of the features. killer7’s pc release now runs at a buttery smooth 60fps and has been optimised for 16:9 widescreen resolutions. Two things I really worried about so I’m thankful that the port wasn’t just a straight port but rather an enhanced one. killer7 really needed it to be honest to transfer the proper experience. It also has both keyboard and controller settings which is also a plus though I have to admit I found myself getting confused with the keys on the keyboard but really its a toss up between easier to use gamepad controls or vastly more accurate mouse aiming. I went with the latter and for the most part I’m glad I did though you can change bindings on both so the confusion was really my own fault as just I stuck with the default. . One great addition that came with the re-release’s keyboard settings specifically was the personae being bound to the number keys which is great for quick switching between characters. Credit where credit is due, this was a great move as it makes switching a breeze, especially with the reduced load times.
The game itself controls rather strangely in that you can walk back and forth on linear paths and choose between various options, whether this is talking to people, such as your companions like Iwazaru, a servant of Harmen who helps your out with information and puzzles or by choosing to enter rooms where you can have potentially deadly encounters with members of ‘Heaven Smile’. This is interesting as it gives you some choice in how you go about things, how much reading you want to do and which characters you wish to interact with as well as choose when you want to go somewhere. I mean sure, this could be stream-lined better if this were a game in development or being released for the first time now but considering this is a port it’s a bit easier to look passed. It’s a very thought provoking way to go about gameplay and seemingly simple yet complex when it needs to be.
The combat itself is a tad strange too in that you need to hold down a button for your character to enter the aiming screen while enemies will attack you regardless. This can be dangerous if you don’t stay on top of things. To make matters worse, the game displays gamepad buttons throughout the tutorials (XBox 360 Controller specifically) regardless of whether you’re playing on a keyboard or gamepad, so your really need to remember your bindings if going with keyboard. Moving on, some enemies will actually spawn others via eggs that will roll towards you and explode. If you shoot these eggs, they will hatch into a clone member of ‘Heaven Smile’ which have highlighted weak-points for you to shoot to kill them. If you take too long while they approach they will either jump at you or explode, damaging or killing you in the process leaving you as Garcian to come and fix up your mess and revive your fallen personae. It doesn’t take long to get the hang of but it certainly is strange and there are absolutely hallmarks of classic survival horror games. Aside from the clones though there are actual members of ‘Heaven Smile’ and variants as well as bosses, some of which see you having to fend off weaker enemies and taking pot shots, others you need speed and precision to take out as quickly as possible. Damn those giant Smiles..
Throughout the game you automatically collect blood which allows you to use various abilities. To get more blood, you have to hit various enemies in their weak points but regardless, blood is collected automatically as you kill. Blood itself comes in both thin and thick variants, the latter being able to be converted into a serum which allows upgrades to certain abilities. There are also various puzzles throughout the game and throughout various stages, some of which reward you with the sought after ‘soul shells’ for solving them. Collecting them allows you access to Vinculum Gate via a character called the Gatekeeper, wherein experimental ‘Heaven Smile’s are tested. These Soul Shells are tied in deeply with the story and see players have to backtrack to collect them if they don’t find them all along the way which can be annoying, or easy if you check every room as you go.
Graphically, killer7 looks great in 1080p widescreen and the models look amazing, but sadly some of the textures are clearly upscaled and it shows, but for the most part it looks fine. Some of the fonts have been changed, but it’s easy to look passed since I personally think they look nicer and clearer. This all-in-all is a nice visual upgrade to the original Nintendo Gamecube release and err.. that pretty awful PS2 release. Everything looks nice and clear so Engine Software did a great job porting this for Capcom. A rare case too as Capcom generally keeps their ports and remasters in-house so they can assure quality control.
The soundtrack is the same albeit in better quality and it really grows on you over time and I have to say the effects and voices seem better to me with a lot of voice dialog being actually distinguishable now as opposed to not really being very audible in the original. So it’s very well done in terms of sound too. This port gets a thumbs up in all categories. A few things I would have liked to have seen though is the ability to use the keyboard to input words and numbers during puzzles, achievements added and the ability to change resolutions within the options themselves, but hey, you can’t always get everything you want. With 1080p widescreen/60fps support, quick change characters implementation and the game running so smoothly, this is a solid port and frankly better than the original release. Best of all, Suda has stated if this port goes over well he would look into doing something special in the killer7 world in future so if you’re a fan of the series, i’d worth supporting for the possibility of future releases despite Capcom still owning the rights. Overall it’s worth the price if you like niche games and I’m glad this was ported and ported well. Its a great way to directly support the IP and has potential for future installments.
REVIEW CODE: A FREE PC code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.
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