[Review] Kill la Kill IF – Nintendo Switch

Written by Alex Laybourne
  • Developer: APLUS Games
  • Publisher: Arc System Works
  • Release Date: 26/07/2019
  • Price: £59.99 / $59.99
  • Review code provided by: PQUBE

The Fabric of a Solid Fighter

Kill la Kill IF is a 3D fighter that follows the story of the anime upon which it was based. For this review, I did not watch the Anime in advance. Having played the game I am tempted to go and watch it, then replay the game to see how this knowledge changes the game.

The game tries to give you an overview of the basic storyline both before you play and after, but the plot is somewhat unconventional, and while you do pick up the plot as you progress, there is always that lingering feeling that you have missed something. That you are lacking some vital component that will take your understanding from a surface scratch to a deep investment.

It was like joining a lengthy conversation halfway through and trying to just pick up with the flow and join in. It can be done, but never feels fully convincing.

You play as Satsuki Kiryuin (in the opening part of the story mode) the president of Honnouji Academy student council. Incidentally, she is not the main protagonist of the show. That is revenge-seeking troublemaker Ryuko Matoi. Her story unlocks once you have completed the opening story mode.

An Unconventional Plot Makes for a Confusing Game

The two ladies have different storylines linked by a shared enemy. This has them alternating between allies of enemies throughout parts of the game. This was an area where I felt I lacked some more detailed character understanding.

The concept of the game is the Satsuki’s mother is the director of the academy and the owner of a clothing line that uses an alien material called ‘life fibers’. With these fibers, she creates outfits that give those that wear them supernatural abilities and transform them into scantily clad demigods.

I can only assume the alien fabric is heavy, and therefore people cannot wear very much of it, for the outfits of both Satsuki and Ryuko leave very little to the imagination. Defeat in battle also seems to result in nudity, for some reason.

Satsuki is intent on overthrowing her mother and removing the life fibers from the world. Ryuko, on the other hand, is driven by a quest to avenge her murdered father. Armed with a scissor blade that can cut the ties of the life fibers, their stories are destined to be intertwined.

It’s a strange story, and try as I might, I could not get into it. However, for people who have followed the show, I can imagine that this is not a problem.

Gameplay:

The game is, at its very core, a fighter. Three-dimensional arenas offer a break from the flat two-dimensional stages of many games. No, it’s not unique, but it is rare enough still that I feel it warrants mentioning. The extra maneuver room makes for longer fights and a more varied range of attacks.

Unlike many fighters thought, Kill la Kill IF focuses heavily on the story. Between fights, there are long cut scenes that tell the ongoing story. The fights are the culmination of that scene.

It’s a very well-done combination, and with the 3D cell style graphics sticking to the style of the series, it does create an overarching symmetry that even those unfamiliar with the show can appreciate.

The further you get into the game the more arenas you can unlock along with the final few characters.

Despite the additional levels of complexity in the battlefield itself, the controls remain largely straightforward. While the characters all have their own animations for their strikes, it boils down to a short-range, long-range, and counter-attack strike.

You can use these buttons in a number of different combinations to put together immense combos during battle, but all too often I found myself button-bashing rather than fighting with any sense of tactic or style.

Game Modes and Challenges:

When you first load up the game everything other than Story mode is locked. But as you play through Chapter 1 you unlock the different modes.

Story

The story mode of the game is both its strongest and weakest point depending on how well you know the series. It is clear that the APLUS games team wanted to focus on the story and making it more than just a fighter. Not to keep repeating the point, this is done to differing success based on your prior knowledge of the lore

The first time around you play as Satsuki, but you unlock Ryuko’s story as you go and can play through her part of the tale too. The gameplay is smooth and even when you forty of fifty characters in battle there were no visible problems Once you have finished Satsuki’s story, which is ten fights, you can play as Ryuko and essentially follow the same story but from a different perspective.

The fights, while the main playable element of the game, were something of a footnote, closing out each chapter. The range from 1-on-1 fights to 1 vs 100 at one point in time. In one fight you had to take down 100 alien suit-wearing, mind-controlled students of the high school. All the while the main villain – the chief tailor of the clothing organization – is hurling fireballs your way. It’s a wild ride and the game handles in style. You do get assistance in this from your friends, the Elite four. It’s a testament to the game that they put so many different fights into the story.

Free Fight Mode

The staple of any fighting game. The battle lines are drawn, and you can pick from a relatively slender line up of characters. Having not seen the anime, I am not sure how large the cast is, but it feels a little thin on the ground in terms of characters and arenas. There are only a total of 8 characters to choose from, and some of which you need to unlock as you play the game.

Controllable characters are the main ones from the anime. The elite four, Satsuki and Ryuko.

Within free fight, there are several options open to you

  • Com battle – Fight against the computer
  • Online Battle – Fight online against friends of other players
  • Ranked Battle – Compete against top tier fighters and see where you rank in the big leagues.

Practice Mode

This mode really does what it says on the tin. It allows you to practice the different combos that can be performed and really get to learn the nuances of your favorite characters.

There are a number of different practice sub-modes you can try. Each will help you in different aspects of your game and correlate to scenarios you will find in the different story modes.

  • Tutorial – Learn the basic controls and simple combos in a pressure-free environment.
  • Training – Configure your settings and just practice until you have made it perfect.
  • Survival Challenge – Fight against computer opponents in an endless stampede of violence and chaos. Set a record and then start again to try and beat it.
  • Covers Challenge – Covers are the alien suits that can take over a person’s mind. Individually not much of a threat, but when you have to take down hundreds at a time, then everything takes on a more threatening tone.

Gallery Mode

As you play the game, you can win gold coins. These come from winning matches or completing the story modes. These coins can be used to buy characters and their different poses in a mode that lets you build your own 3-D dioramas.

These you create in the Digital Figure mode of the Gallery.  

Alongside this, there are several other interest areas hidden within the Gallery.

  • Replay List – Watch replays of all your saved flights. For those that really want to study their game.
  • Anime – Watch all of the story mode cut scenes for a fully immersive anime experience.
  • Sound Test  – Listen to the game’s soundtrack
  • Voice Library – Listen to the vocal clips for all characters from the game.
  • Glossary – A full and detailed glossary of all things Kill La Kill.
  • This includes:
    • Biographies for the characters,
    • Terms used during the game and their definitions
    • Clothes – all of the different life fiber outfits that fill the game with their nefarious presence.

All told there is enough to keep you going for a while if you are willing to put in the time and read the material you are given. Doing so does change the overall game experience for the better.

A Game Filled with Style and Flair

Graphics and Style:

The game looks stunning. Its art style is a three-dimensional cell art technique that tries very hard to match that of the series. It looks great in both handheld or docked mode. That said, my preference for playing Kill la Kill IF is in docked mode on the big screen. It just feels better.

The characters are all very distinct, and while their vocal work is in Japanese it is clear from both their intonation and the subtitles that they are all unique in their styles.

The arenas look nice and the battlefield animations are spot on. The style and flair that you sense belong with a game whose story is so outrageously over the top, is there in spades.

Each character’s special move animations are fun and interesting, and while the costumes leave very little to the imagination at times, everything just fits together.

For those that go into this blind, prepare yourself for an onslaught of anime boobs and crotch shots. Not to mention more bare butt cheeks than on display at the annual nudist beach barbeque.

Sound:

The game’s soundtrack is fun, and I can only assume it contains a lot of the same material as the anime show. It is exactly what you would expect from this sort of game and the series upon which it is based.

The voice acting is stellar, as far as my non-Japanese mind can comprehend, and during the fights the sounds of combat are good. There is an English audio option, but I prefer to stick to the original and just read the subtitles. Call me strange.

Overall, the audio is a strong part of the game, with the only minor critique being the repetitive nature of the in-fight war cries.

An Interesting Game That Will Draw Divided Opinions

When all is said and done, Kill la Kill IF is a solid fighter. The mechanics of battle are simple and maybe a little too straight forward, but the intent was there and there is enough to do during the battle sequences that you won’t get bored.

Yes, you can fell into the button-bashing pattern, but some time in the practice ground can help ger you more fluent in the art of combat.

While it will appeal more to fans of the anime, I think it can certainly be regarded as a good game, and will most likely bring a host of new fans into the Kill la Kill world.

Pros

  • Great albeit a rather odd story
  • Beautiful aesthetic
  • Fun fights
  • Online Mode and Ranked matches – although unlikely to have a large professional fight scene behind it.
  • Raunchy costumes (depending on your mindset)

Cons

  • You really need to have seen the anime before you play the game
  • Raunchy costumes (depending on your mindset)
  • Shallow fighter pool

Verdict
Kill la Kill IF is a solid fighter with one of the best stories around. It has a niche appeal but for those willing to give it a try, a fun and immersive time awaits.

3.5/5

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