Killer Is Dead

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Killer Is Dead
North American cover art; each region has a distinctly different cover highlighting the game's protagonist, Mondo Zappa
Developer(s) Grasshopper Manufacture[a]
Director(s) Hideyuki Shin
Producer(s) Yoshimi Yasuda
Shuji Ishikawa
Designer(s) Tadayuki Noumaru
Kees Gajentaan
Hikaru Tamada
Writer(s) Goichi Suda
Keisuke Makino
Yudai Yamaguchi
Hideyuki Shin
Engine Unreal Engine 3[1]
Platform(s) PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows
Release PlayStation 3 & Xbox 360
  • JP: August 1, 2013
  • NA: August 27, 2013
  • AU: August 29, 2013
  • EU: August 30, 2013
Microsoft Windows
May 23, 2014
Genre(s) Hack and slash
Mode(s) Single-player

Killer Is Dead is a 2013 hack and slash video game developed by Grasshopper Manufacture. It is published by Kadokawa Games in Japan, Marvelous USA in North America, and Deep Silver in Europe.


Killer Is Dead includes such technology as lunar tourism and cybernetic enhancements.[2] The main character is an executioner named Mondo Zappa (voiced by Ryotaro Okiayu in the Japanese version and Patrick Seitz in the Western version[3]) who receives jobs from the Bryan Execution Firm. This firm, run by a cyborg named Bryan Roses, tasks Mondo with killing dangerous criminals and assassins from around the world.[2] Mondo wields a sword with his right hand but his cybernetic left arm can be converted into many different weapons, including guns, drills, and other objects.[2] Although Mondo travels the world as part of the game, Suda calls it a "personal story" of "a man who doesn't show himself much in the public world but still worms his way into society and mercilessly eliminates the evil dispersed in it".[2] "Love and execution" and "how far can you protect someone" are also central themes of the story.[4][5]

The game begins following a deranged former executioner named Tokio who has kidnapped a girl and is being hunted by a katana-wielding man who looks like Mondo. Tokio calls him "the darkness" right before he is killed. It then flashes forward two years to the modern day where Mondo is accepted into Bryan's execution agency following his assassination of the former executioner in his place, who had also been taken over by a dark force and was deemed unfit for his job. This man, Damon, warns Mondo about the perils of the job and that he may also fall to the dark side.

Mondo then kills many strange, monstrous beings known as Wires, eventually killing a woman named Alice who was transformed into a grotesque crustacean-like monster following her trip to the Moon. She blames a strange man named David for causing her to become a monster. Subsequently, they are visited by a woman named Moon River, who asks them to assassinate David. Mondo agrees and travels to David's moon palace on the dark side of the moon, though he is unable to kill the ostentatious and eccentric David despite a pitched battle.

While a strange dark force from the moon starts turning people and even inanimate objects into monsters, Mondo learns that Moon River was once the ruler of the Moon, until she was overthrown by David and her race transformed into Wires by the Dark Matter. David has gained control of the moon's Dark Matter and is using it to take over the world, creating Wires as his minions. Meanwhile, Mondo exhibits intense pain from his artificial arm every time he kills a monster.

Eventually, Dolly, a psychic who serves David, attempts to enter the mind of Mondo's assistant Mika to kill him. Mondo uses a sleeping drug to fight her, but in the process dredges up all his memories. He realizes that David is his brother and he lost his arm due to David's attempt to kill him. David was also a former assassin working for Bryan, and after rescuing Mika, the kidnapped girl in the first mission, he brainwashed her and used her to spy on Mondo before going rogue. Bryan gave Mondo his artificial arm in order for him to fight David, though its capability to absorb Dark Matter means that Mondo is vulnerable to becoming corrupted like Tokio and Damon. He decides to head to the Moon yet again to settle the score and stop David's evil rampage.

Mondo fights David in his castle yet again, but during the battle both of them are changed by the Dark Matter into super-powered Wires, after which they fight as equals in their assassin's garb. In the end, Mondo is able to defeat David and stop him from harnessing the full power of Dark Matter. However, Mondo himself is then possessed by the darkness and rebuilds David's castle. Moon River requests that he be assassinated as well, much to the surprise of the Bryan Execution Firm. The game's ending is open-ended, but suggests that Mondo has become the ruler of the moon in David's place.

Mondo and David's names are likely based on David and Goliath. Mondo, in English slang, is another word for large.


Planning for Killer Is Dead began in late 2009 and proper development started in early 2011.[4] Suda was inspired to title the project Killer Is Dead after The Smiths's song "The Queen is Dead".[6] Initially the title was only a placeholder, however over time Suda began to feel that the name matched up with the style he was going for.[6] The game was formally announced in April 2012, but the debut trailer only premiered in January 2013.[7][8] Suda describes it as a "Dark Side 007" game, drawing inspiration from Ian Fleming's James Bond books and films.[2][7] Unlike Bond, however, the main character of Killer Is Dead deals with an even seedier underworld that the surface world does not even register.[9]

The game is not a sequel to Killer7 but it maintains the essence of his past "assassin series" games and "picks up where Killer7 and No More Heroes left off".[7] Suda also calls the game "yin" to bright and cheery Lollipop Chainsaw's "yang".[9] Gameplay feature swords like in No More Heroes but with expanded systems, guns, and wrestling action.[2][4] The visual style is an enhancement and evolution of the cel-shaded style of No More Heroes.[2][5] The team had originally experimented with a realistic graphical style and a cartoon style reminiscent of Killer7 before settling on the final design.[9]


The game was released in summer 2013, published by Kadokawa Games in Japan and Marvelous USA in North America.[2][10] Deep Silver, the European publisher, and Sony Computer Entertainment Asia, the publisher for the Asian release outside Japan, announced that these editions of the game would include both English and original Japanese voice acting tracks.[10][11]

A PC version was announced on February 17, 2014 as Killer Is Dead: Nightmare Edition. It was released on May 23, 2014 on a disc and as a digital download. It includes a new difficulty mode called Nightmare. In it enemies can only be defeated using three attacks: Adrenaline Burst, Dodge Burst and Headshots.[12]


Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings (PC) 67%[13]
(PS3) 60%[14]
(X360) 59%[15]
Metacritic (PC) 71/100[16]
(PS3) 64/100[17]
(X360) 64/100[18]
Review scores
Publication Score
EGM 6/10[19]
Famitsu 35/40[20]
GameSpot 5/10[21]
Joystiq 3.5/5 stars[22]
Hardcore Gamer 4/5[23]

The game received positive reception in Japan with a score of 35 out of 40 from Famitsu, where it gained the Platinum award based on the scores of 9/9/9/8 from the four reviewers.[20]

Western reviewers were more critical of the game. It has a Metacritic score of 64[17][18] for both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions. On GameRankings, it has a score of 60.07%[14] for the PlayStation 3 and 59.29% for the Xbox 360 version.[15] Mark Walton of GameSpot criticized a confusing story, unrefined combat and screen tearing issues while praising the striking visuals.[21] Electronic Gaming Monthly's Ray Carsillo also took notice of the story, saying that it is Suda 51's "most ridiculous, nonsensical plot yet".[19]


  1. ^ Ported to Microsoft Windows by Kadokawa Games.


  1. ^ "SUDA 51 talks Killer Is Dead in brand new video interview". BabySoftMurderHands. Retrieved 2013-04-15. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Gifford, Kevin (2013-01-16). "Grasshopper's Suda51 gives first details on his latest game, Killer is Dead". Polygon. Retrieved 2013-01-27. 
  3. ^ "Behind The Voice Actors: Killer Is Dead". 
  4. ^ a b c Gantayat, Anoop (2012-04-04). "Killer is Dead Detailed". Andriasang. Retrieved 2013-01-27. 
  5. ^ a b McWhertor, Michael (2013-01-17). "Killer is Dead's first trailer is drenched in stylish, bloody action". Polygon. Retrieved 2013-01-27. 
  6. ^ a b "Talking Killer Is Dead with Suda51". Destructoid. March 28, 2013. Retrieved Jan 13, 2014. 
  7. ^ a b c Gantayat, Anoop (2012-04-04). "New From Grasshopper and Suda 51: Killer is Dead". Andriasang. Retrieved 2013-01-27. 
  8. ^ Prescott, Shaun (18 January 2013). "Killer is Dead debut trailer unveiled". Retrieved 18 January 2013. 
  9. ^ a b c Gifford, Kevin (2013-01-23). "Yakuza guys riding on tigers: Killer is Dead in detail, according to Suda51". Polygon. Retrieved 2013-01-27. 
  10. ^ a b Spencer (2013-02-05). "Killer Is Dead's Asia Version Has English Text And Dual Language Option". Siliconera. Retrieved 2013-05-03. 
  11. ^ "Twitter / deepsilver: Before you ask: Killer is Dead ...". Retrieved 2013-02-10. 
  12. ^ Yin-Poole, Wesley (17 February 2014). "Suda 51's Killer is Dead hits PC in May". Eurogamer. Gamer Network. Retrieved 17 February 2014. 
  13. ^
  14. ^ a b "Killer Is Dead for PlayStation 3". GameRankings. Retrieved 2013-08-28. 
  15. ^ a b "Killer Is Dead for Xbox 360". GameRankings. Retrieved 2013-08-28. 
  16. ^
  17. ^ a b "Killer is Dead for PlayStation 3 Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  18. ^ a b "Killer is Dead for Xbox 360 Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  19. ^ a b Carsillo, Ray (2013-08-27). "EGM Review: Killer Is Dead". Electronic Gaming Monthly. Retrieved 2013-08-28. 
  20. ^ a b "Polygon / Japan Review Check: Killer is Dead". Retrieved 2013-08-19. 
  21. ^ a b Walton, Mark (August 27, 2013). "Killer Is Dead Review". GameSpot. Retrieved August 28, 2013. 
  22. ^ Kubba, Sinan (August 27, 2013). "Killer Is Dead review". Joystiq. AOL. Retrieved August 27, 2013. 
  23. ^ Hannley, Steve (August 27, 2013). "Review: Killer is Dead". Hardcore Gamer. Hardcore Gamer. Retrieved September 3, 2013. 

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