Kill La Kill – IF, based on the Kill La Kill anime, is a brand new arena fighter. It’s out now for Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4 and PC – here’s our review.
A collaboration between Arc System Works, A Plus Games and Studio Trigger, Kill La Kill – IF was always going to be a release that fans of the source materials were looking forward to seeing. For those not familiar with Studio Trigger – they’re the ones behind the anime that aired over five years ago and is mostly remembered as being super high octane/energy blend of anime action. Their involvement with IF is mostly about quality control, but it ensures that the character design and animations are all more or less faithful to the original anime – something fans will notice and appreciate.
If you weren’t a fan, or haven’t heard of the anime before, then the game wastes little time introducing you to its visual style and feel. The story in the game is an original one, but since the original writer of the show was involved it stays true to the source material – and features many returning characters as well. The narrative approach is kind of an alternate take on the core universe, so that is a neat feature for existing fans while being accessible enough for newcomers. The experience is short though, and it’s all over before you want it to be – fan of the anime or not.
In case you were looking at Kill La Kill – IF for more story content then you’ll be happy with the quality on display here but disappointed with the quantity. The same can be said for the roster of playable characters, though more are being promised as free DLC post-launch. How does it play though? Luckily, but perhaps not surprisingly considering Arc’s involvement, the core mechanics here are very solid.
As with most arena fighters, my initial instinct is to just dash in and out of the action and try to button mash my way to success. This can work if you’re lucky enough with your timing, but there’s a deeper system at work here as well. It’s not innovative and it’s something we’ve seen before, but beneath the explosive surface is a control mechanic that features melee attacks, ranged attacks and guard breaks. In a rock, paper, scissors fashion, one trumps the other – and fast reaction times can turn Kill La Kill – IF into more than just a button mashing fest. If you combine the basic controls with the ability to perform all three of these while airborne, and can also pull off special move versions of them, and you have the chance to turn the action into a smooth almost ballet-like performance – though it’s one fueled by dynamite.
The game’s roster appears very well balanced even though some characters are more prone to melee and others to ranged combat – with a relatively short story mode that should bode well for the multiplayer aspect of the game, which works well. I could see the servers mainly being populated by fans of the series though, as the core gameplay itself isn’t groundbreaking enough to provide a sustained interest from those not invested in the anime.
Which kind of sums up Kill La Kill – IF. It’s an anime-based arena fighter that is very well done but is mostly an experience you can also find elsewhere if the license doesn’t hold much appeal to you. If you’re a Kill La Kill fan to start out with, then you won’t be disappointed. The fighting system’s core is extremely solid and its fairly basic approach ensures that you can relive plenty of the anime’s moment in style.