Developer: A+ | Publisher: PQube, Arc System Works | Release date: July 25, 2019 | Genre: Fighting | Reviewed On: PlayStation 4 Pro
Review code provided by: PQube
Over the years I have heard a ton of great things about the anime KILL la KILL but it wasn’t until 3-4 months ago that I sat down and watched it. After a few Netflix binges, I was thrilled to hear about KILL la KILL IF on the PS4.
The Anime centers around Ryuko Matoi who is on a mission to find out who killed her father and get revenge. She transfers to Honnouji Academy which is run by student council president Satsuki Kiryuin. Without going into spoiler territory, the IF in the game’s title is short for “what if.” KILL la KILL IF asks what if Satsuki Kiryuin was the main protagonist instead of Ryuko. If you don’t understand that sentence, you should probably hop on Netflix and binge-watch the anime. In fact, from the way the game plays out, it seems the developers assume that the player has watched the anime. During your playthrough, you will get an understanding of the events of the anime but on a very basic level. It is understandable that when you play a game based on a tv show or movie that it’s hard to cram all of the story and emotion into such a compact package. Here however the story pretty much jumps from one boss battle to the next without any notion of how the characters got to that point. I would have loved to battle it out with some of the different clubs at the academy like the tennis club for example. What is here is entertaining and good enough to satisfy fans but it would have been nice to see a few more of the characters and battles that made the anime so memorable and hilarious.
KILL la KILL IF has a great cell-shaded look that closely matches the look of the anime but it doesn’t fully match the quirky style of the show. Everything looks beautiful though even if the arenas are a little on the dull side. It is in these arenas that you will spend most of your time. Combat is pretty easy to pick up as every character fights with the same basic moves but each has their signature flair. Close range attacks are handled with the Square button. Long range and guard break attacks are handled with Triangle and Square respectively. With just these buttons you can pull off some impressive combos that are just what you would expect from KILL la KILL. Like most fighting games you have a meter that fills after taking or dealing damage. Once it reaches a certain level, you can press hold L1 and one of the attack buttons to perform an impressive super move that features full animated mini cutscenes for a devastating effect.
There is also a system called Bloody Valor that you can activate by pressing L1 & R1 once your meter is filled up to at least 50%. This will activate a crazy battle/dialogue sequence that is essentially rock, paper, scissors. This is very similar to the clashes used in the Injustice series. Winning this grants you things like increased attack damage or a quick health refill but winning three in a match grants you access to your secret super move Sen-I-Soshitsu that finishes your opponent off and strips them of their outfit.
Aside from the story mode, there is an online/offline versus mode, practice and a free battle mode. Free battle was the most fun for me and makes me wish the game had an arcade ladder to go through. The fighting is another example of how the game’s skipping through the story has an impact on the overall experience. There are only 8 characters to choose from (two free DLC characters have been announced for later this summer) but there could have been so many more given just how diverse and huge the cast of characters is in the anime. It just feels like a missed opportunity.
Where this game truly shines is in the voice work and music. Both the Japanese and English voice cast from the show return for the game and both are truly exceptional. The only flaw is the lip-sync for the English dub is a visual mess. Characters will often still be seen talking even though their dialogue is over. It’s an issue that has been all but wiped out in modern gaming but it is worth it if you love the English voice cast the way I do. The music from the show is in every aspect of the game and will make fans very happy. The unlockable gallery mode features a soundtrack and vocal selections for some real fan service.
KILL la KILL IF offers one of the only pieces of new content since the show ended and it is a great addition to libraries of any of the show’s fans. Newcomers and vets alike may find it lacking in features and characters for the $60 asking price even with the promise of new DLC characters. For what it is KILL la KILL IF offers a story and content that was made using original members from the team behind the anime and you can tell that a lot of care was poured into it. I only wish that more content was poured into as well.
Final Score: 7.25/10