It’s several years late, but we finally have a Kill la Kill video game, this one in the style of a 3D arena fighter, as is usually the case with such anime video games. However, Kill la Kill -IF manages to set itself apart from the competition, both in good and bad ways.
Perfectly captures the Trigger art style. I don’t know how the devs have done it, but they’ve managed to perfectly capture the Trigger art style in video game form. Everything from the color theming, to the rough linework, and even the choppy animation are all present. Of course, this also includes Trigger’s great character designs, something they really did well when Kill la Kill originally came out. All of this looks great in motion too, both in cutscenes and in actual gameplay. It is exactly what I would expect a 3D Trigger anime to look like and it makes the game feel much more authentic as a result.
Fun arena gameplay. Unlike most anime arena fighters, Kill la Kill -IF actually has some fun and diverse gameplay. Most of the time with these games, we’ll get a cast full of cool characters, but with move sets that are not really that unique, with several characters having moves duplicated from others with a different skin slapped over them. Although Kill la Kill -IF does have some of these moves, for the most part the characters play very differently from one another, some completely changing how some fights are approached.
For example, playing Nonon emphasizes a longer-ranged playing style, with attacks that can travel the entire stage and stronger attacks that require a bit of setting up from a distance. Playing Ryuko is the exact opposite of this, with close-ranged combat and constant use of special attacks being a priority. To make characters like this feasible, the game allows dashing directly towards your opponent at any time, although you can still be hit along the way. It’s a nice combination of play styles and makes for some pretty fun arena gameplay, even if it comes with some problems (more on that later).
Actually decent story mode. One thing that I actually look forward to in fighting games is the story mode. I know that most oftentimes just skip the story outright, but I actually enjoy playing through them, so I was really happy to see how much effort was put into the story with Kill la Kill -IF. Not only is it a great way to get used to the gameplay, but it actually tries to tell a decent story along the way. Most of this is done through the cutscenes, which are not only animated well, but have full voice acting on top of that.
It basically provides a condensed version of the original Kill la Kill anime through two different viewpoints, separated into two story chapters that are further separated into individual episodes. Of course, it’s still nowhere near as good as the actual anime from which it is sourced, but it is miles better than the fighting game stories we usually get.
Lackluster PC port. Unfortunately, while the gameplay itself is fine, it is brought down the game’s rather lackluster PC port. To start with, the options menu in-game is very barebones, only allowing basic audio configuration, a subtitles toggle, rebindable buttons, and a voice language option (from which you can choose either English or Japanese).
All of the game’s more technical settings are changed from an external launcher, one that pop ups everytime the game is opened. However, the settings there are limited as well. For example, there are only three resolution options and none of them are above 1080p. There’s also no borderless window option, so you’ll have to use an external tool for that.
Aside from the limited settings, I also did run into a number of crashes while playing the game. Fortunately, these never occurred in actual gameplay, but rather in the menus, so I didn’t lose any progress. Regardless, it is an issue that needs to be fixed, but given the lack of updates and communication from the publisher since launch, we’ll have to wait and see if these fixes ever come.
Dead multiplayer. At the time of writing, Kill la Kill -IF has only been out for three weeks, but in those three weeks, the PC community for the game has already pretty much died out. I tried hopping into a competitive match during peak Steam hours and was unable to find one, even with all match limitations removed. I was eventually able to find a match in the game’s casual lobbies, of which there was a grand total of one other player online.
Looking at the player charts for the game shows that there are barely five players online at any given moment, and that includes anywhere in the game, not just the multiplayer. So if you’re going into the game expecting a great multiplayer experience, you’re probably going to be disappointed unless if you already have friends to play it with. It also definitely doesn’t help that the game is priced at $60, so there’s a fairly high barrier of entry for new players. Perhaps this price will be cut in the future to grow the playerbase, but as it stands, it’s pretty much dead after only three weeks. Granted, this is not a fault of the game itself, but is definitely an issue that needs to be mentioned.
Light on content. As fun as the gameplay may be, there really isn’t much to the game outside of it. You’re given a roster of only eight characters (ten if you include the alternate forms for Ryuko and Satsuki), six separate stages, a dead online multiplayer mode, and, while I did like the story mode, it only lasts for around three hours. Sure, there are the different game modes (including AI free battle, survival challenge, training, and covers challenge), but that’s pretty much all there is to the game. If you’re not already super into Kill la Kill as a series, there really isn’t much of a reason to pick this game up over others. And even then, it’s a pretty tough sell if you don’t have friends to play the game with. It’s just that light on content.
Kill la Kill -IF is in this weird spot where I do like the gameplay, story mode, and aesthetic, but there just isn’t a whole lot to the game outside of that. It’s very light on the content, the multiplayer is already dead after only three weeks, and the PC port isn’t the greatest and hasn’t seen an update in quite some time. I would honestly only recommend the game if you’re a hardcore fan of the series, but even then, you’ll want to have some friends to actually play it with.
You can buy KILL la KILL -IF on Steam here.
I was provided a review copy of the game in order to write this review. Read more about how I do my game reviews here.