Thirteen years after its original release, killer7 has now found its way to PC with numerous upgrades to enhance the experience. However, as a first time player, I was rather disappointed with the game. Sure, the port is decent and the story is pretty interesting, but the underlying gameplay is just flat-out boring, crippling the experience.
Before I get into that though, there are a few points to be made about the PC port. On one hand, the improved graphics, FPS, and control options are definitely a plus, especially for a game from the PS2/GameCube era. On the other hand though, the port is missing several other features that I would consider essential for any modern-day PC port — the first of which is subtitles.
killer7 is a game that heavily emphasizes its story, so the lack of subtitles during cutscenes is really just unacceptable for a 2018 release. What is odd though is that the game offers subtitles in French and German, but not English. On top of that, one of the port developers even commented on the fact on a Steam discussion thread, noting that the original release did not have English subtitles, so the port would not include them either. This is a really bad stance to take, as subtitles are a basic accessibility feature one should expect in any video game with this much story or really just any video game with dialogue at all. Hopefully these subtitles can be patched in, but as it stands, those that are hard of hearing are going to have a difficult time here.
Another port misstep would be the lack of keyboard and mouse button prompts, something that immediately becomes a problem in the game’s tutorial. In fact, it actually took me quite some time to get through this tutorial because I had to guess at what key to press for every gamepad button shown. Only after completing the tutorial did I look up and realize that you can press F11 to view the config menu at any time, displaying all of the game’s controls. Even so, a player should not be expected to reference a game’s config menu for controls, that is what the button prompts are supposed to do. It is a minor misstep, but one that should be fixed.
Outside of the porting job though, I found the gameplay to be very lacking. It basically takes the form of an on-rails shooter, allowing the player to move back and forth along a branching path while also throwing in some shooting segments here and there. Not only does this movement feel clunky, but the shooting segments are as barebones as it gets, becoming repetitive very early on, especially given the extremely limited enemy variety. It really felt like a complete afterthought to the game’s story. Sure, the story was pretty interesting, even if a bit surreal, but it is really hard to enjoy when coupled with such boring gameplay.
On top of that, the puzzle design is just outright tedious. Many of the game’s puzzles require backtracking just to pick up an item needed to advance, throwing more shooting segments at the player along the way. It felt as if they were implemented not only to inflate the game’s playtime, but also for the sake of having something other than moving and shooting in the gameplay. As a result, it no longer is fun to complete the puzzles and feels more like a chore in order to experience the game’s story.
As much as I really wanted to like this game, I simply cannot recommend killer7. The story and art direction may be good, but the gameplay is simply not up to par. The movement is clunky, the shooting is barebones, and the puzzle design is just tedious. It really just felt like the game wanted to be a surreal movie, but somehow ended up as a video game instead. At least the port was nicely done, although I do hope that the missing features I mentioned are patched in.
You can buy killer7 on Steam here.
I was provided a review copy of this game. Read more about how I do my game reviews here.