Kill la Kill stands as one of anime's most colorful series to date, and it has developed one hell of a reputation. Its flashy fight sequences have become as popular as its fan-service, and fans have been begging for more Kill la Kill since the anime ended. Those wishes were granted when Bandai Namco teamed up with Arc System Works to make a console title befitting of Ryuko, but there is a simple snag...
As colorful as it may be, Kill la Kill The Game: IF is no accomplished feat. Its beautiful animation cannot be denied, but fans will be left wanting after seeing the game's mechanics and story modes.
To begin, Kill la Kill The Game: IF follows a similar pattern which most anime games are drawn towards. It is formatted as an arena-fighter with gorgeous 3D, cel-shaded artwork. Studio Trigger, the company behind the original anime, lent a hand in overseeing designs for this fighter and it shows. Every character comes off vibrantly which does justice to the original TV series. However, style does not make for substance in Kill la Kill The Game: IF.
The fighting mechanics of the game are simple enough. Each character has flashy animated combos as well as homing moves. There are various counters to keep players darting across the battlefield, but the real trouble comes next. One major issue with Kill la Kill The Game: IF has to do with its camera system. For a fighter that values movement, the camera rarely focuses when you need it to, and there is no way to auto-focus. Any fight involving multiple enemies becomes an undue pain thanks to the camera, and then you have to do some real trial-and-error to get each characters' combat options down.
Kill la Kill The Game: IF has your standard bag of combo sets available, but players will simply mash through the game unless they spend time with each character. There are innovative tools like Bloody Valor which can turn the tide of a game. This specific tool is a mid-game aside you can trigger in hopes of getting a power boost or possible damage heal. The mechanism is a glorified round of rock-paper-scissors, but gamers would never know it exists unless they happened upon the command. In fact, special techniques such as these are often glossed over in favor of button-mashing, which gets old fast whether your playing against a computer or a friend in multiplayer.
Oh, and as for online play? You won't be able to unlock that rather limited feature until you progress six chapters into the story mode.
All of the game's combat mechanics may be simple to pick up, but their repetitiveness will bore even the most casual gamers before long. This is made even worse by the fact Kill la Kill The Game: IF has such a small fighter roster of 12 characters. While DLC has been promised, it doesn't take long to get a feel for each character, and their lackluster controls get tedious. What will grab interest is the story mode of Kill la Kill The Game: IF... that is, if you can with some wonky pacing.
Again, the artwork of Kill la Kill The Game: IF is gorgeous, and that is never made clearer than in the single-player story mode. The voice actor is superb, and there is no denying the time spent on each cutscene's quality animation. However, each cutscene is lengthy to say the least, and Kill la Kill newbies will be left scratching their heads; This game expects you to be very familiar with the anime before jumping in, and it's not keen on giving any meaningful recaps. The scenes which go over the Kill la Kill anime are very brief, and its choppy pacing will tempt fans into skipping cutscenes just to get to a fight scene at long last.
Kill la Kill The Game: IF held promise of being so much more to longtime fans of Honnouji Academy, but it falls short in almost every way. Its limited online play cripples the game's competitive chances, and casual gamers will be left confused by this title's story though enamored by its artwork. Dedicated fans will no doubt stick through the game if not for Satsuki fan service, but an overly complicated story mode will drag some away. If a visual feast is all you need, then Kill la Kill The Game: IF isn't the worst pick, but this certainly isn't a successor that will meet fans' expectations.
Rating: 2 out of 5
Kill la Kill The Game: IF is currently available on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC. A PS4 review code was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.