Licensed games are always a bit of fun for people who want to spend more time in the world of a movie, series, or book. It used to be that every blockbuster movie would have some gaming adaptation on consoles. While it's not common for most entertainment properties to get video game tie-ins anymore, anime is holding on. The only thing better than watching two of your favorite characters fight in head to head combat is joining in. You'll see arcs end and new games release recapping the series up until that point. Kill La Kill IF has taken a bit of a different approach, not accompanying but reminding players of Ryuko's adventure. Is it a bit late or does this come at just the right time to rekindle some passion in the franchise?
Kill La Kill IF in all its glory
Kill La Kill IF tells an odd alternate story that splits across two campaigns based on main characters Ryuko Matoi and Satsuki Kiryuin. For those who remember the anime, the story picks up about one-third of the way through with the Natural Selections Exam. As you progress, you'll skip large sections, allowing them to play out as cutscenes. Eventually, you begin to deviate from the original plotline.
It's difficult to fathom who a story based on a six-year-old anime that doesn't follow the plot is for. It's not for those wanting to relive the experience. With no character introductions, it's certainly not for those new to the series. If you discovered Kill La Kill earlier this year and hunger for more, this might be just in time for you. The story campaigns have little separate from one another so you'll spend a lot of time rewatching the same cutscene from either's perspective. With so little variety in both short story paths, the split seems rather questionable. Even if you find yourself confused, you'll at least enjoy the battles.
Kill La Kill IF's distinct characters create interesting experiences
The best part of story mode comes from the various battles. Many recent 3D anime fighting games will allow strict 1v1 fights with the ability to swap through a team or call in allies for special attacks. Kill La Kill IF eases you into combat through a tutorial and a few 1V1 battles. Combat also includes 1v1v1 battles and even some 1v5 battles where only two of your opponents are on the field at a time. Every battle has a different setup, forcing you to constantly change up your style. Anime fights are rarely 1v1 and these setups do a good job to fit into the story. These entertaining battles show off what's fantastic about this title, but the weak original story holds the ensemble back.
Combat in Kill La Kill IF builds upon several Rock/Paper/Scissors mechanics. During normal combat, Close Attack beats Break Attack, Break Attack beats Block, and Block beats a Close Attack. If you connect with a move that's strong against your opponents, you'll knock them back and gain an opportunity for a combo. You'll be able to just spam regular and special attacks early on, but capitalizing on these opportunities is a key strategy once you get a handle on things.
Bloody Valor adds a bit of luck to Kill La Kill IF
The second iteration of Rock/Paper/Scissors is in the Bloody Valor mechanic. In battle, you'll have a chance to compete in the most important part of any anime fight... the banter. Activating Bloody Valor has each character rush towards one another. The Attacker and Defender will have a chance to Mock, Provoke, or Taunt your opponent. Provoke beats Mock, Mock beats Taunt, and Taunt beats Provoke. Whoever wins the battle will have a boon placed on them like regaining health, or dealing extra damage. This can be a great move to pull out when you're down but if you lose you put your opponent in a much stronger position. It's an interesting mechanic that's sometimes almost too much of a risk to take.
Players can pick from eight playable characters in Kill La Kill IF, two of which have a form change. These characters include Ryuko, Satsuki, the four members of the Honnouji Academy's Elite Four, Satsuki's mother Ragyo, and the Grand Couturier Nui Harime. You only start with the two main characters and the Elite Four when you begin playing but clearing the story will earn you them all.
Each distinct character leans heavily on what they do in the anime and their powerful Goku Suit abilities. You'll see traditional combat out of Ryuko with a proud fighter rushing into battle with her scissor blade and dealing out damage with big combos. The polar opposite to this it Nonon and her Symphony Regalia. Many of her powers give the players a chance to stay back and deal with long-ranged damage. The flip side is that you don't want to find yourself in a close fight.
Kill La Kill IF's multiplayer allows friends to become foes
Multiplayer in Kill La Kill IF gives offers the usual fare of game modes. You can take on your friends locally or hit the internet to face off against other human players. Here is where you're going to find the majority of the traditional 1v1 fighting game experience. If you were enjoying the change of pace of the story mode, that might be slightly underwhelming. While in the Ranked Match mode the only option available to you is picking a character and playing the game the Player Match allows you to curate your experience.
If you're not quite ready to hit the online matches, there are several places to test your skills. You can pick a character and set yourself up in an endless challenge, facing enemy after enemy. With each passing battle, your opponents get harder and harder. It's up to you to push for a new record with each attempt. This is also a great way to learn new characters. You'll experience fights at different levels of difficulty with the full roster as the heat turns up.
The last game mode is the Covers Challenge pitting you up against a large number of enemies on the field at once. You'll be able to face a 1-minute challenge, 100-man challenge, or an endless challenge as you face wave upon wave. Playing through the story you'll experience a few COVERS battles but you'll find that it's a different strategy with so many enemies. In the traditional combat, you're looking to focus in on one enemy and deal as much damage as you can. You need a different mentality fighting against large groups.
Attacks that you'll be looking for include big sweeping moves and a large area of effect. It's a very different focus and a different set of characters and skills get their chance to shine through it. There are larger characters that innately lend themselves better to attacking in wider sweeps. This "one against many" combat style doesn't suit the combat system, and that shows for many characters.
Find a good AEO attack in Kill La Kill IF and put COVERS in their place
Kill La Kill IF is a confusing game. The story fails to both celebrate the series for returning fans and welcome new players into the fold. The battles are a unique experience that keeps you on your toes. The multiplayer modes move back into what you expect of a traditional fighting game, allowing players to fight head to head. The fun and fast-paced combat perfectly emulates Studio Triggers' style. It wants to be a love letter to Kill La Kill but misses the mark and arrives rather late. If you're looking for something to scratch that Kill La Kill itch then this game should be enough.
TechRaptor reviewed Kill La Kill IF on Nintendo Switch with a copy provided by the publisher. This game is also available on the PlayStation 4.
Kill La Kill IF wants to show off all that was great about the 2013 anime, but between a muddled story mode, small character roster, and questionable mechanics, it doesn't quite stick the landing.
- Interesting Story Battles
- Unique Characters
- Confusing Storylines
- Filler Game Modes
- Luck Based Mechanics