Shonen anime always delivers on fast-paced action, eye candy explosions, and screaming protagonists. Studio Trigger's first original Anime project is no different. 2013's Kill La Kill follows Ryuko Matoi on her quest to find her fathers killer and take down the Student Council at Honnouji Academy. She uses her Kamui (a sailor outfit that gives her powers) to fights the student council's Elite Four. Taking a look at the Kill La Kill IF demo for PlayStation gave us a chance to see how this Anime translates into a 3D fighting game.
There are three game modes in the demo; Story, Versus, and Covers Challenge. There is a fourth option available, gallery, but the unlock conditions are to pre-order the game. The Demo's Story mode highlights the Naturals Election from the perspective of Satsuki. The included mission is only a long cutscene and a single battle so don't expect too much from it.
Fans of the anime will see that a lot of effort went into recreating the style and feel of watching the animation. Large block text appearing, the camera shifting dramatically, and over the top action immediately makes fans feel at home. That said, there are a few unnatural moments in this cutscene. The battle you'll play is between Satsuki and Ryuko, the match begins as a tutorial having players go through all the different moves before letting you loose.
Kill La Kill IF is as easy as Rock-Paper-Scissor Blade!
The core of the Kill La Kill IF gameplay is based around a rock-paper-scissors concept; Normal Attacks, Guarding, and Break Attacks. A Normal Attack is faster and will take precedence a Break Attack, Break Attacks will go through a Shield, and Shields will obviously stop a Normal Attack. There are other additional techniques like dashing towards your opponent, air variants of the attacks, and super attacks that expend SP. The move that most players will be going for is a successful Break Attack as it allows you to stun your opponent and combo them. Normal combos are still important but a defense break gives you a big opportunity.
During the battle, the camera's focus shifts between competitors as they deal damage or use super attacks. Some of these shifts of focus are subtle, but when you're in the heat of battle you'll find the camera darting around quite frantically. Watching the battle can be an entertaining sight, but trying to focus as a participant can be difficult if you're not acclimated. Still, you've got to give credit to Arc System Works for recreating the anime experience in Kill La Kill IF as closely as they did.
Versus Mode will allow you to fight between four characters: Ryuko Matoi, Satsuki Kiryuin, Uzu Sanageyama, and Ira Gamagoori. Ryuko and Satsuki play quite similarly being small fast characters. Uzu and Ira are both much larger fighters but where Uzu has the speed of a smaller fighter Ira is a much slower character. His strong hits more than make up for it.
The computer player AI scales from one to three-star difficulty. Having fought a few rounds with them all the biggest difference that you'll find is the frequency of your opponents blocking. One-star characters will hold firm and continuously block, this makes them easy to dispatch with a Break Attack, but Three Star characters will dodge around you. The full game will have a roster of eight unique characters, a few different forms, and two already announced DLC characters. This isn't quite large a roster for a fighting game so it will be interesting to see how unique each experience is.
The final game mode included in the demo, Covers Challenge, is reminiscent of the Tekken Force game modes from Tekken titles. Instead of a typical 1v1 battle, it's a race to defeat 100 weaker enemies. You face sentient suits called COVERS, appearing in waves of 20 or so at a time. Your character will always be targeting one at a time, but as they bunch together you can use your Normal and Ranged attacks to hit many of them at once.
While there are some moves that you can really use for crowd control you'll end up in combos against just one COVERS. There are moments where you race the clock only to stall out while a limited combo finishes. This highlights the mode's lack of cohesion with the rest of the game. The final foe is a giant COVERS will show up, dispatching of them isn't too different from the rest of the fight. There's a built-in leaderboard that lists the completed time and character used so you can always work on new strategies and head back in to beat your previous time. This is a fun shake-up to the traditional fights and will have you coming back a few times but it may not have much staying power.
Take on waves of enemies in Kill La Kill IF's Covers Challenge Mode
The demo of Kill La Kill IF did a good job showing off combat and faithfulness to the source material, it's hopeful that this quality is consistent throughout the game. The story seems to pick up right after character introductions. Because of this, players may lack some early context if they're not familiar with the source material. That being said aside from a few questionable animations it was a good feeling to be back in the world of Kill La Kill.
If you're a fan of the story, it seems that you'll get all that you want. Maybe even a bit more when compared to the visual novel storytelling in some other anime titles. The Covers Challenge is fun but feels like a tacked-on gameplay mode, there will be those that enjoy it but it mostly seems there to add variety, and maybe even foreshadow some later fights in the story game. At its very core, the mechanics in Kill La Kill IF are solid. It's a fun mix of all-out anime combat and some footsies as you try to bait out your opponent into a move you can counter and punish.
TechRaptor previewed Kill La Kill IF on PlayStation 4 via a freely available demo. This demo will be available on Nintendo Switch on July 22nd.