Devolver Digital is launching Katana Zero for PC and consoles April 18. This low-fi action adventure from developer Askiisoft has you playing as a samurai in a modern techno setting. And as is standard for Devolver, Katana Zero is dripping with style.
Askiisoft combines a pixel art style with some extreme effects. Your sword shines brilliantly whenever you swing it, and the screen shakes when you connect with an enemy and then they explode into particles. When you die, the action rewinds to start you over because you didn’t really die. You just used your precognition sight to see one way to fail. And if you pause, a VHS-style menu pops up, and no — I’m not sick of that yet.
When you pair all of that with excellent lighting effects and a soundtrack that rips, Katana Zero seems like an obvious addition to the Devolver canon.
But Katana Zero’s personality comes through in more than just its visual style.
Not just a pretty face
Katana Zero has a surprising amount of variety. You might go from slicing up punks at a dance club one moment to having a conversation with a therapist/information broker minutes later.
And these conversation scenes are just as important mechanically as the swordfighting. Each time you talk to someone, a timer begins. While the other person is still speaking, you can interrupt them at any time. This choice will usually come across as rude, but it may also hurry the action along.
Like when you speak to your drug-dealing therapist, you can demand your medicine instead of answering his questions. But if you have some patience, you’ll get more dialogue choices when the other character finishes speaking.
And these divergent paths seem to come with consequences that could change your game. My impatience caused me to curtly dismiss the next-door neighbor girl, who now thinks I’m an asshole. And I’m pretty sure that I got someone killed by itching to get into a fight instead of playing along with a conversation.
All of this works to keep you on your toes even during cutscenes. And you can see how all of this works in the gameplay video at the top of this story.