One of the biggest highlights to Anime NYC was the inclusion of the world-renowned video game designer and publisher, Arc Systems Works. The studio recently rose eyebrows and spirit bombed the video game community with the release of Dragon Ball FighterZ, a critically and commercially acclaimed fighting game that has blown expectations out of the water and raised the bar for fighting games. Over the Summer, the studio announced the development of a new fighting game that has greatly excited video game players and fans of anime alike, Kill La KIll: IF. Fortunately for me, the very first playable demo of Kill La Kill: IF was available, and I had an opportunity to check it out for myself.
Kill La Kill is an anime series that first aired in 2013, created by Hiroyuki Imaishi and Kazuki Nakashima. The series was picked up by Aniplex for dubbing and distribution in the United States, where it received an overwhelming support from western anime fans. It revolves around Ryuko Matoi, a young woman who ventures to Honsho Academy who while wielding a blade that is half of a scissor, vows to challenge the elite Honshu Academy to achieve revenge for the death of her father. When she chooses to fight against the Academy’s elite school council, she is beaten tremendously. In her injury, she comes across a sentient Kamui, named Senketsu, who heals her and grants her great abilities. With her companion Mako, she takes the fight to the very top of the Academy’s council, and the president, Satsuki Kiryuin.
For Kill La Kill: IF, Studio Trigger was brought on as a supervisor to observe and guide Arc Systems Works in their development of the game and to keep it as authentic to the anime as possible. They are not directly responsible for programming or development of the game, but their supervisor role gives them some agency and leeway in any changes that need to be made.
My time with Kill La Kill at ANime NYC was easily one of the best demo experiences I have had all year covering video games. I knew based on the teaser trailer the game would be visually spectacular, but the gameplay experience was wildly exciting. As I began my demo, I chose Ryuko, because it’s impossible not to choose the main protagonist of a great anime, and my opponent chose Satsuki. We chose a random battlefield and got right to work trying to fight each other.
Kill La Kill: IF is built as a 3D arena brawler, where players will be able to move in an open space and fight each other, similar to the recently released My Hero One’s Justice from Bandai Namco Games. This ability to dodge and maneuver is quintessential for countering the opponent’s moves. Additionally, as we launched each other, we saw force fields at the end of battle spaces, meaning we could not win by “ring out.”
The gameplay felt tight and responsive, with the movement and inputs feeling just right. The game is incredibly kinetic and fluid, as my opponent and I traded blows with each other in rapid succession. We got up close, with sword swipes, punches, kicks, and a dizzying array of aerial attacks. Accompanying the the dizzying but fantastic visual display was a rocking soundtrack. While I couldn’t make out the full range of music since the open demo had no headphones, I was able to hear lyrics and the sounds that were reminiscent of the energetic soundtrack to the original anime. It was absolutely euphoric, placing me and my opponent in the excitement of the battle.
My opponent did launch special attacks that were heavily damaged me. In the show, the life fibers react to the skill and emotion of its wearer, unleashing devastating amounts and bursts of energy. I admit that I started fumbling the shoulder buttons, leading to some fascinating combos. In one instance, I triggered what could be described as a “rock, papers, scissors” moment, where I chose an attack and the opponent choose an attack, and the two characters automatically dueled in a stalemate. I won a few of these smaller rounds while gave me a sliver of health or damaged my opponent.
I tried different combos and battle moves and managed to get the upper hand, but nearly instantly falling to a devastating combo from my opponent. As we fought, I was caught up in not just the competition but how incredible the gameplay experience was. I was having a lot of fun. It was sheer excitement, all the way around. While I did lose, I was also tremendously impressed with the game experience.
Many of the features for Kill La Kill: IF remains unknown at this time including character roster, gameplay modes, and even what ‘IF’ stands for. However, I am extraordinarily eager to see more of this game. Based on my experience playing the demo, I have been convinced to buy KIl La Kill: IF well before this game is launched.
As a big fan of the anime, this game translated the energy and fierce emotions perfectly. The themes of the anime involve individual freedom, power, resistance to the darkness of greed and violence, among many other themes. For the five minutes I was playing this, I essentially felt I was part of the anime. I simply cannot wait to see more.
Kill La Kill: IF has been announced for the PlayStation 4 and Steam for release in 2019.