Review: Kill la Kill – IF

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Kill la Kill – IF is an oddi­ty when it comes to video­ga­me adap­ti­ons of ani­me fran­chises. The ori­gi­nal series ended over 5 years ago, so releasing a tie-in game now is an inte­res­ting choice. Unfor­tu­n­a­te­ly, even if you enjoy Kill la Kill, or are­na figh­t­ing games in gene­ral, the­re is not enough here to keep even the most die­hard fans inte­rested for more than a few hours.

The most striking aspect of Kill la Kill – IF by far are the visu­als, making an excel­lent first impres­si­on even when you’re just on the main menu. A lot of time has been spent making sure the cha­rac­ters look as clo­se to their depic­tions in the ani­me as pos­si­ble, while also working well in a 3D envi­ron­ment. Kill la Kill had (some­ti­mes deli­ber­ate­ly) wild­ly vary­ing ani­ma­ti­on qua­li­ty, which has been recrea­ted faith­ful­ly in game for the most part. It makes the sto­ry mode enjoy­a­ble to watch at times, some­thing that is appre­cia­ted con­si­de­ring just how litt­le game­play the­re is over its short run­ti­me. The main flaw with the game’s visu­als over­all is the various are­nas, many of which loo­king bland com­pa­red to the lovin­g­ly craf­ted cha­rac­ter models. At least the tra­de-off for some less impres­si­ve are­nas is a near con­stant 60 fps, even on a stan­dard PS4.

Speaking of the sto­ry, Kill la Kill – IF bills its­elf as a ‘what if’ sto­ry, hence the name, but rough­ly a third of the sto­ry mode still covers events taken from the ani­me. The­re is no sum­ma­ry of the sto­ry up to the point whe­re IF starts, alrea­dy limi­t­ing this to fans of the ani­me only, and the events it does cover befo­re diver­ging are abrid­ged and lack most of the ori­gi­nal series’ build-up. You con­trol Sats­uki Kiryu­in, stu­dent coun­cil pre­si­dent of Hon­nou­ji Aca­de­my, for the first part of sto­ry mode, star­ting at epi­so­de 8 of the ani­me. She fights against series prot­ago­nist Ryu­ko Matoi, but is inter­rup­ted by her mother Ragyo Kiryu­in, who’s appearan­ce is at odds with the time­li­ne of the ori­gi­nal ani­me. From the­re. ever­ything spi­rals out of con­trol, for­cing Sats­uki to deal with this new thre­at.

To put it blunt­ly, the sto­ry mode is pret­ty ter­ri­ble. Visual­ly the many cuts­ce­nes are most­ly enter­tai­ning, but the bre­akneck pacing and lack of any mea­ning­ful new sto­ry sce­nes makes it hard to stay inte­rested for what is essen­ti­al­ly 4 hours of watching with a hand­ful of fights in-bet­ween. While the sto­ry does deli­ver what could be con­si­de­red an alter­na­te take on the ani­me, ever­ything it does is vast­ly infe­ri­or. Tho­se that watch the ori­gi­nal series will have alrea­dy expe­ri­en­ced a more enjoy­a­ble sto­ry, while also tur­ning away peop­le that haven’t alrea­dy seen the ani­me. The fact that you have to repeat most of the sto­ry with Ryu­ko to see ever­ything makes an alrea­dy bad mode even wor­se.

Ani­me are­na figh­t­ing games alrea­dy have a repu­ta­ti­on for being more sim­plistic and unba­lan­ced com­pa­red to more tra­di­tio­nal figh­t­ing games, and that’s still the case with Kill la Kill – IF. Every cha­rac­ter has melee and ran­ged attacks, along with a slo­wer guard brea­king move. You can dash around and hold dif­fe­rent direc­tions to per­form mul­ti­ple types of melee attack, increa­sing the amount of opti­ons you have at any given moment. Fights boil down to a series of rock-paper-scis­sors inter­ac­tions, with regu­lar attacks win­ning against break attacks, breaks against guards and guar­ding against regu­lar attacks. Fur­ther­mo­re, the dif­fe­rent melee attacks work best in cer­tain situa­ti­ons, with regu­lar attacks working well against sta­tio­na­ry enemies but slow, swee­ping attacks being best against oppon­ents that attempt to dodge.

So, there’s at least some depth to com­bat, but in prac­tice it still feels sim­plistic and a litt­le mes­sy over­all. Cer­tain cha­rac­ters have moves that are easy to spam, and the annoy­ing came­ra can make see­ing what’s hap­pe­ning dif­fi­cult at times. To make mat­ters wor­se, sto­ry mode also throws in a few fights against mul­ti­ple enemies, some­thing that the batt­le sys­tem is clear­ly not able to hand­le. The came­ra issu­es beco­me even more of a nui­sance, and there’s no way to manu­al­ly lock onto spe­ci­fic enemies. Fights against covers, enemies that look like clot­hing, are even wor­se for this sin­ce you’ll be figh­t­ing at least 5 of them at a time.

There’s also a gene­ral lack of con­tent, with many of the modes adding litt­le value to the over­all packa­ge. As we went into detail ear­lier, the sto­ry mode is a lack­lust­re attempt at tel­ling a uni­que sto­ry using the anime’s set­ting. But when it comes to sin­gle play­er con­tent, that’s pret­ty much all the­re is to do. The covers chal­len­ge is boring and suf­fers from the poor came­ra and, asi­de from a basic gaunt­let and ver­sus modes, the­re isn’t much to do if you’re not inte­rested in play­ing with others. Even then, the tiny cha­rac­ter ros­ter (1o, inclu­ding 2 dif­fe­rent ver­si­ons of Ryu­ko and Sats­uki) and ques­tion­ab­le balan­ce ensu­re that you’ll end up figh­t­ing the same few cha­rac­ters for most of your time online. The online in gene­ral is ser­vice­ab­le, but lacks basic fea­tures like being able to rematch direc­t­ly after a fight, or even the abi­li­ty to invi­te your fri­ends to a match.


Even with the pro­mi­se of free cha­rac­ter DLC and patches, the­re is litt­le rea­son to buy Kill la Kill – IF. The sto­ry mode adds not­hing to the anime’s plot, and the lack of con­tent will pro­bab­ly cau­se an alrea­dy shrin­king pool of online play­ers to decli­ne even fur­ther. This was not the game Kill la Kill deser­ved.

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