Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Killer7 is why I play video games.

 As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become a pretentious “games as art” person. Nothing sums that up better than Grasshopper Manufacture’s 2005 opus Killer7.

It’s a poorly designed mess. Killer7 is essentially an on-rails shooter with an obtuse storyline and inconsistent difficulty. The controls are awkward and the interface is frustrating to navigate. But perhaps because of all this, Killer7 is beautiful.

This huge barrier to entry and steep learning curve make it all the more satisfying when you can finally comprehend the stylized cel-shaded look and the plot’s dive into Japanese mysticism. The gameplay takes countless twists and turns, and the boss fights are unforgettable.

It’s a game that many people will hate, but if you can get into it, Killer7 pays off in spades. It’s greater than the sum of its parts, and truly a work of art.

What makes this all work is the game’s director, Goichi Suda. He’s something the film industry thrives on, and the video game industry needs more of: Suda is an auteur. He doesn’t use dozens of metrics and playtest a game to death to determine a lowest common denominator of gameplay. He doesn’t care about appealing to the biggest possible audience. Suda makes the games he wants to make.

We need more Suda 51s.

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