There are few thrills as videogamey as weaving through a barrage of very deadly bullets in slow motion. Katana Zero looks to have that in spades, plus the never-not-cool ability to deflect bullets with your sword, back to their unwitting owners. Askiisoft's samurai platform slasher has been on my radar for a while now, thanks to looking like a blend of Hotline Miami and Samurai Gunn, and today's trailer has me itching to play it. The pseudo-80s 'neo-noir' aesthetic may be a well worn groove at this point, but synths, swords and slow-mo still makes a potent cocktail. Take a peek below.
As with Hotline Miami, death comes quickly and easily in Katana Zero, which makes sense - you're literally taking a sword (and the occasional thrown weapon) to a gunfight. Level segments are short, and you replay each over and over again until you've cleared every threat without taking a scratch, using as much slow-mo as you need to. Once an area is cleared, you get to watch a replay of your performance at full speed, Superhot style. Not wildly innovative, maybe, but it's taking notes from some of the most compelling action games of the past five years.
Now that Katana Zero apparently has bike chases, it's hard not to draw comparisons with fellow Devolver Digital stablemate My Friend Pedro. Pedro seems more about having some knockabout fun with its combat systems, taking the occasional hit in order to maintain a combo of improbable physics-driven flukes. Katana Zero's focus on precision and planning feels less flexible, but perhaps more coherent - easier for my squishy brain to make sense of as I re-try a sequence time and time again. However you slice it, 2019 looks like a good year for balletic bullet-dodging.
Katana Zero launches in March, though there's no exact date or word on pricing yet. Find it on Steam here. Devolver Digital are publishing this and apparently every other game about dodging bullets in slow motion. It's a good niche to corner.