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Katana ZERO preview

We check out the stylish neo-noir, action-platformer ahead of next month’s release.

Katana Zero
© Askiisoft / Devolver Digital

Katana ZERO is a beautiful but deadly side scroller from developers Askiisoft working under the Devolver Digital publishing powerhouse. With graphics reminiscent of the 16-bit era and the twitch reflex mechanics are surely going to draw easy parallels with Hotline Miami, but scratch the surface and you’ll find a very different game underneath. The difficulty starts high and gets harder from there, but it is worth sticking it out as this is a game that’s on course to be a modern classic.

You play a samurai, ostensibly embarking upon one assassination mission after another, interspersed with interactive “at home” scenes, giving you an apparently non-linear path through the tale. The storyline that dots Katana ZERO’s violence weaves the tale beautifully, but skilfully keeps you in the dark. Little reveals here and there along the way and you start to realise just what your meaning in the bigger picture is. It’s a surreal tale, often uncomfortable, just staying interactive enough to really pull you in without breaking up the hot-footed pace of the gameplay.

Watch the Katana ZERO gameplay trailer below:

Katana ZERO houses some mechanics that easily get you to melt into the role of your assassin. Overhead hints encourage to slow down time; something that feels a bit like a cheat, but progressing–is something that must be relied on. Each stage in Katana ZERO is a dance with precision and flair–no style points are awarded, but in your own mind…and with the VHS playback of your board completion, you might find yourself encouraged to take everyone out in a spectacular display.

Fights in Katana ZERO will most definitely have you at the edge of your seat. A timer ticks away in the background with each board, only giving you so much to work with until your character fades out. With no time to waste, there’s a certain urgency mixed with healthy hesitation in taking down your targets. A one hit kill for yourself requires that the player MUST be on their toes at all times–not to say that you won’t get lucky with a few downswings here and there. Your death rewinds the tape putting you at the start, unapologetically making you try, try again, from the very beginning of the level. This game is hard, and you will know that straight away without any illusions.

View some screenshots of Katana ZERO in our gallery:

Playing Katana ZERO feels like a dance. A false step and the whole show falls apart instantly. This is a game where you WILL die and you WILL start over multiple times. Much in the way Hotline Miami had you inching forward, learning everyone’s moves and paths, and memorising your surroundings and how to work with them, Katana ZERO demands all that with liquid smooth controls and a gorgeous backdrop to spray blood all over. Your reflexes will have a work out unlike any other.

Ladies and gentleman, this is the kind of game that is a cut above the rest. Its stylized storytelling mixed seamlessly with its grim tones make it a gripping ride all the way through. With the release not being until March, it’s amazing how polished it all plays right now. The combat not only looks fantastic–it feels fantastic. Everything from the thumping soundtrack to the amazing ideas brought forth is bound to keep you white-knuckled to a controller or keyboard. I can’t recommend Katana ZERO enough to keep a look out for. If you like a little bit of pain… matched with massive victories, Katana ZERO will be a perfect fit to put on your March radar.

Check out the Katana ZERO Steam page to add it to your wishlist or to find out more.

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