Kill la Kill : IF
Developed By : APLUS Games
Published By : Arc System Works
Category : Anime, Fighter, Multiplayer
Release Date : July 26, 2019
Anime games are plentiful in the gaming market, and it’s no surprise that a great number of these based on anime shows. It’s a genre that I never frequented before, but now that I’ve dabbled in it on the gaming side, I see my curiosity growing in other areas. The only downside to this, is with the giant pool of relevant source material, I’m bound to run into plenty of games based on series I’m not familiar with, or not even heard of. The latter was very much the case when I fired up Kill la Kill : IF on the Nintendo Switch.
Right off the bat, my unfamiliarity with the anime series was dangled in front of my face. Often times in these games, they are forgiving and offer an introduction. A way for newcomers to meet the characters, and be tiptoed into any story that may have been pulled from the game’s respective TV show so you’re not left high and dry. That, however, was not the case with this game.
Immediately you’re introduced to a tournament taking place at the Honnouji Academy. The cutscene that opens the game’s first episode details that counltess weeks of battles have already taken place, leading up to where you come in, which is basically the end. Ryuko Matoi has defeated the academy’s Elite Four fighters, and now has the chance to take down Satsuki, the student council president. If Ryuko wins, she will be able to finally learn the fate of what happened to her father.
After feeling like I was missing something, I paused the cutscene and did some digging, which was where I learned more on the backstory of the show, and that the events that were going to unfold in the game I was playing were being presented as an alternate representation (hence the “IF” in the title). So…it was based on a show, but was also going to be nothing like the show at all. It was obvious that this “alternate” approach was done to try and welcome in newcomers, but the way it was handled didn’t feel that way. So, after a short delibration, I decided to just take the story for what it was and see how the fighting side of the game played out.
You assume the role of Satsuki when the game gives you your first chance to fight, and you face off against Ryuko in the final fight. Initially, Ryuko is basically imobile, while the game walks you through your controls. You have a short-range attack, a long-range attack, and a guard break to help you try and squash any momentum your opponents could have. There’s also a jump button, which can be pressed again in mid-air for a dash attack. Lastly, holding the R button will allow you to perform dodge maneuvers, while holding L gives you boosted special attacks, provided you have enough bars filled on the meter below your health.
I found the controls extremely easy to pick up. It was nice having that dummy-fight introduction to really get a feel for how to use the moves in your arsenal. It all felt pretty nice, until the enemy started to strike back. Kill la Kill‘s story is broken up into episodes, and each one has a certain number of lettered parts. These parts are your fights, but you’ll have plenty of story to watch unfold before, after, and in between the fights.
What really trips things up is that for a lot of these fights, you won’t only be facing off against one opponent. Sometimes you’ll deal with multiple foes, all of whom wish to harm you. Then, there are other times where three of you are in the arena in a free-for-all setup and it can get pretty hectic. No matter the number of opponents though, Satsuki’s moves still came off without much of a hitch. In fact, the only real complain in some of these fights wasn’t even about the controls, it was the visuals.
Kill la Kill uses scenes straight from the anime, as well as a mixing of original parts to tell it’s alternate story. Throughout everything, these animations are beautiful and smooth. Well, most of everything. At moments during the bigger fights, the game seems to stutter frames at points. These points mostly seem to be when you land a finishing blow on one opponent, and it comes off as the game is almost confused. Typically when you land a finishing blow, the scene turns black and white, does a freeze-frame, and then slo-mo rolls back to regular speed. But in these multi-person fights where you’re not actually ending the fight, it ends up feeling like the game kind of forgets that there’s still more fight to do, causing some skips and jumps. Other than this, I had no issues with the playback or any visuals in the game.
Speaking of visuals, it is worth noting that the game does occasionally make use of gratuitous camera positioning. Some of the female characters wear somewhat revealing outfits, although nothing is ever fully shown. Still, it is a factor that should be brought to attention if such things would turn you away from buying the product.
If you’re picking this game up for the story, then I would assume you are doing so because you were familiar with the show. The anime had a pretty decent following that wanted more after the show ended, and this is that more that fans have asked for the last five years. If you aren’t one of the fans that originally followed the show, or discovered it in the time since, this is most certainly not the game for you as there isn’t a lot to familiarize newcomers.
However, as a fighting game, it’s actually not that bad…and believe me that’s saying something because I typically hate fighting games. The controls were pretty fun and easy to handle, and I loved that it was in a 3D arena instead of just side-screen. Satsuki’s attacks felt pretty fluid, and I had no issues controlling her in the thick of things. Whether I was up against just one opponent, a couple at a time, or fighting off waves, I never felt like I was fighting the game. But it’s not so great of a fighting game to warrant picking it up for just that reason. The fight scenes are broken up by a lot of story cutscenes to the point that it feels more like a visual novel on autoplay. So if you are/were a fan of the series, or even can see yourself diving into something new then by all means add Kill la Kill : IF to your library, otherwise I’d say look for another game.