Hands-On: Kill la Kill IF Has Some Loose Threads

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If you don’t follow us on Twitter, Michael and I were at Frosty Faustings XI. Had a good time, played a ton of matches, and played games we normally wouldn’t have. One such game that surprisingly isn’t getting the coverage lately is Kill la Kill IF. ArcSys Works provided a small intimate booth setup for patrons to test out the game. [Editors Note: Unfortunately we couldn’t get any direct capture footage or take any photos at all per ArcSys request at the venue.] It had a lot of hype surrounding it when it was released, especially since it was announced that ArcSys Works was going to have some hand in this. Well, I got to play a healthy dose of it and I’m gonna give my thoughts. I have a lot, but I’ll try to keep it simple.

Now, for the uninitiated, Kill la Kill is an anime about how trash society can be and clothes that give you superhuman powers. That is THE simplest way to describe it, and I suggest you watch it. It’s pretty good. Of course that would make this an anime adaptation game (No, not the Dragonball FighterZ kind). Let’s get that out the way right now. This leans closer to the Naruto Ninja Storm side of anime fighting games, so if that isn’t your thing then this won’t really change your mind too much. The controls are simple; close range attacks, long range attack, guard break attack, block, and burst.

Now, the burst mechanic is interesting. I’m not sure what the official term is since the demo didn’t exactly tell us a whole lot besides the button layout, but here’s what I have gathered. The game goes into a rock/paper/scissors kind of mode where pressing the right button against your opponent grants you extra life, extra meter, or extra damage. Guess correctly three times, and you go into a super powered mode that enables your Instant Kill or “Fiber Lost” for those familiar with the show. If you don’t go for the Instant Kill , you still get seemingly infinite meter regen and some damage buffs. But this only initiates when you use your burst offensively. Using the burst defensively is just a burst.

Speaking of that burst, it’s not tied to it’s own meter. The burst available to you is dependent on your current meter and takes two bars (out of six) which means that if you’re in that meter regen mode, you can just spam bursts and not be comboed. It’s a little busted…as are other things, but we will get to that a little later. And that sums up the burst mechanic. Once a burst happens, it pretty much resets the “neutral” and you’re back to what seems like the typical game loop: use long range attacks until someone gets antsy or someone gets opened up. Which…brings me to a bit of the busted stuff currently in the game.

The build we played had six playable characters: Ryuko Matoi, Satsuki Kiryuin, Nonon Jakuzure, Ira Gamagoori, Uzu Sanageyama, and Houka Inumuta. I’m gonna say pretty boldly that in that build, Houka was the best character of the six, simply because his long range attack was a tracking projectile that were delayed strikes. You could literally start a string, throw some projectiles, then your opponent would be punished for trying to attack you because you also have time to block. It was…pretty funny, I can’t lie. But also very busted. I’m thinking they’re gonna patch that. Ryuko and Satsuki were fun rush down types. Uzu was…strange. I couldn’t get a handle on him. Ira and Nonon were my worst experiences, mostly because every move Nonon has is a projectile and Ira’s play style demands your opponent to be dumb enough to let you just stand there and charge your meter.

Through the characters I played, I do see that they’ll be trying some interesting things. Houka and Ira had their own dedicated meters that catered to their play styles. I hope to see more of that out of whoever else they’re going to put in the cast. They have a LOT to work with and I hope to see more than just the main cast. I’m hopeful for the captain of the Boxing club, personally. Though, I also hope they don’t add lame side characters. Even of some of the ones I know will be here, I wish I didn’t have to tolerate them…(Nui!)

Finally, the visual presentation. There is some good and some bad here. Let’s start with the good stuff. I’m glad they decided on tweaking some things, like how the clashes look. The triangle style looks better and more or less gives you a better idea of how the clashes work. Also, changing the meter from three to six was also a welcomed idea, though if things still cost two bars…well, we’ll have to see how that pans out. The character models look like they were lifted from the anime, from their artstyle seeming 1:1 with the anime to their movements and poses. It was surprising to see how well they looked in motion. But…seeing them in motion made me really hate the arenas. They just look…off? It’s hard to describe it, but the art styles are so vastly different. They look generic with these ‘overstyled’ models, only looking good when they go into their clashes and it looks closer to a 2D game. As fluid and good looking as the game is, I wish the backgrounds got a little more love or at least had a consistent art style as the 3D models.

Overall, I think the game is shaping up nicely. Like I said, this won’t become the next big eSports game. But this could be a nice game at locals/weeklies or side tournaments. The game isn’t completely mindless, but it is pretty simple right now. I want to see who else gets into the game. If a public demo comes out, I would say definitely give it a chance. Are you interested in the game? In the anime, maybe? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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