Today, I want to talk about Katana ZERO and how it’s actually a masterpiece. I originally purchased the game on my Nintendo Switch, but I have this weird relationship with my Switch. It’s hard for me to sit down and play games unless it’s a game that is exclusive to the system. I have no idea why that is, but that’s beside the point. When I discovered that it was on Xbox Game Pass, I decided it was time to finally sit down and dedicate the time to beat it because I actually enjoyed what I had played on my Switch, and boy am I glad that I did.
For those of you who may not know what it is, Katana ZERO is a side-scrolling action game about a mysterious warrior with strange time-bending powers who goes around murdering drug dealing thugs with a katana. It’s an incredibly bloody game with an enthralling story accompanied by a phenomenal soundtrack to keep you moving through the game’s incredibly challenging levels. I don’t particularly enjoy side-scrolling games very much, but there was something about Katana ZERO that had me very, very hooked.
Katana ZERO wastes no time introducing you to its difficulty from the first moment you start the game. The game is a fantastic opera of blood and carnage where the hero can use whatever he has at his disposal to get the job done. Armed with only a katana and the occasional throwable item, it is up to you to make your way through a series of rooms expertly dispatching enemies left and right, painting the walls with their blood. Take one hit, you die, and the room you’re in resets.
It doesn’t take long for you to quickly learn that you’re going to die so much as you progress through the game, you’ll likely forget what success feels like. It is what makes success beating that much sweeter when you’ve taken out your last target and the recording of your character doing what you finally pulled off at the end of each room. When you’re on your tenth attempt and finally slow down time to deflect a bullet back at that enemy, or tossing a vase at an oncoming foe just to cut his buddy down immediately after is a phenomenal feeling.
Unraveling your character’s mysterious past and learning the source behind his abilities is a bloody road worth traveling. As I previously stated, you play as a mysterious warrior with strange time-bending powers. Throughout the game, he’ll visit his therapist, who will ask him questions uncovering more about the protagonist’s past, medicate him and then assign him a new target. Each target also comes with a specific set of instructions; for instance, one of your targets is a DJ that you’re instructed not to speak to. Of course, the player can choose to ignore that order, possibly affecting your relationship with the doctor. It also opens the door for a bit more of the story to slip in through. There’s even a set of dialog options the players can choose from, and picking the right dialog can drastically change the way you play a mission. Even performing the right actions during a mission may or may not alter what can happen during that mission.
Then there’s the soundtrack. My god, there’s the soundtrack. If you haven’t heard of it, you should google it. Find it as fast as possible and give your ears an early Christmas present that doesn’t stop giving. It’s phenomenal and fits the tone of the game incredibly well. Each song feels so particularly tailored to each level. The neo-noir setting of the game and rhythmic tunes blend together in perfect matrimony. Katana ZERO is also kind enough to provide you the names of each song when they play at the beginning of a level, and I’m pretty sure “Overdose” is my favorite. Seriously, hit up Spotify or Youtube or whatever music streaming service you prefer and listen to the soundtrack.
This might sound like a small review, but it’s really an expression of love for an indie game I almost let slip away. Katana ZERO is f%#&ing phenomenal, and as far as side-scrolling action games go, I’m convinced it is a masterpiece. The developer has also talked about DLC in development, which will be much larger than the base and cost owners of the game absolutely nothing. If you haven’t played it, do it now. Last I checked, it was still on Game Pass, but even if you don’t have access to the subscription service, go buy it. If you don’t have an Xbox, you can also find it on the Nintendo Switch and the PC. It is more than worth the money.