I played through the first three missions in Killer is Dead. The build I played was the one Xseed is publishing so it was fully localized with English text and voiceovers. If you prefer Japanese voice acting, you can select that in the game’s option menu.
Killer is Dead follows Mondo Zappa, an assassin for hire that executes other killers. The game begins in an alleyway with Mondo chasing a guy carrying a gun. Mondo coldly walks towards his frightened target and uses his katana to deflect bullets. After he catches up to the panicked target, the player has to hold the right trigger or R2 down to draw his sword back and then release the button to thrust forward. This was an idea director Goichi Suda wanted to implement so players "feel" each kill. This was a tutorial level, but it was a really stylish tutorial level.
Killer is Dead is broken into missions and each one closes with a brutal execution. There is an overarching story and I caught a glimpse of it in chapter two. Mondo and his chippy partner Mika Takekawa have just been hired by Bryan Roses to join his execution squad. His first target… a previous employee by Bryan. Mika, overly enthusiastic about her new job, spills wine on the mark to identify him for Mondo. Mondo rushes in and kills him with a flurry of slashes. The target is wounded, but limps towards Mondo’s new boss, Bryan, and the dying man has one more conversation with Bryan over a glass of wine before exploding into a bloody mess.
The first two missions set up the story. Killer is Dead really begins with mission three where a painter comes in and tells Bryan about a monster he saw. Vivienne Squall, an executioner that also handles the company’s business affairs, demands a $10,000 payment for "clean up" because the monster will be killed. He agrees and Mondo is off for his first assignment.
Killer is Dead’s combat system reminds me of Gungrave. Instead of having players learn combos, Mondo’s sword slashes are tied to one button. Your combo gets better if you keep the combo meter going, but you only have a few seconds to cut into another enemy. Killer is Dead’s fodder enemies are called "Wires" and these enemies are easy to hack through. Killing them fills up Mondo’s blood meter which lets him use execution moves to chop up enemies quickly. Blood also powers up his sub weapon, an arm cannon early in the game, and allows Mondo to rapidly shoot bullets. You can still use Mondo’s arm cannon if you’re out of blood, but the weapon’s fire rate is painstakingly slow. Mondo also has evasive moves like a side step dodge and if you do this just before an enemy attacks the screen turns red and you can counter by mashing the attack button.
Mission three has a cool looking world that’s Alice in Wonderland mixed with M.C. Escher. Each time Mondo clears a room full of wires he finds a present to give to Alisa, a girl that looks strikingly like Alice. A staircase tethered to the ceiling also descends bit by bit. While you’re on the mission, Mondo gets a phone call from Natalia, one of the girls Mondo can meet up with for a gigolo mission. But, there’s no time for romance now. I’m about to fight a spider monster.
Poor Alisa. She went to the moon hoping to cure her back pain, but since she returned other problems happened. Like… she transforms into a spider monster. Mondo says he will free her from the pain and a boss battle begins. Alisa attacks by raising her legs up in an attempt to crush Mondo. You could block, but the best move is to dodge just before she strikes so you can retaliate with a series of rapid slashes. This technique whittles down Alisa’s life and she crawls on the ceiling spitting purple balls of goo at Mondo.
You have to use your arm cannon to bring her down, which can be difficult if you run out of blood. After Alisa falls you have a couple of seconds of free slashing and if her life bar is empty you can cut off one of her legs using an execution move (hold a trigger/shoulder button + press attack). If you’re out of blood or can’t pull of the execution move in time, Alisa gets up and recovers some life. The pattern continues until you chop off two of Alisa’s legs. Then she gets more aggressive and drops baby spiders on Mondo when she’s crawling on the ceiling. Players have to alternate between chopping up the spiders on the ground with Mondo’s katana and controlling the camera to hit Alisa with the arm cannon. On the third execution, a prompt shows up and has players hold RT to draw the sword back and then let the button go to deal the fatal blow. While you’re dealing a deathblow a voiceover says "killer is dead" in the background. True, but that’s only one killer, the game has more killers to terminate when Killer is Dead comes out later this month on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.