(Full Disclosure: This game was provided for free for this review)
I really love Katana Zero, and let me preface by saying that the only thing I’m disappointed about this game is that there isn’t more. Playing through the game’s story twice left me wanting more, it’s simply that good.
You play as a former war veteran, who is now an assassin, who is dressed up like a samurai in a cyberpunk dystopia who is working with his psychiatrist who is helping him figure out his past. Throughout the story, you will be hacking and slashing through many enemies that come your way. A single hit is all it takes to bring the enemy down, but a single hit is also all it takes to bring you down.
The combat is fast, and a single mistake can easily kill you, and you will die a lot, but that is part of the protagonist’s abilities. Without going into too much detail the main character plans out his attacks beforehand, if he dies then he just rethinks his plan before executing it. He also has the ability to slow down time, allowing him to react to enemy attacks. You shouldn’t rely on the ability too much since it can only be used for a certain amount of time before needs to recharge, and that can lead to situations where you get killed. You’re even able to pick up and throw objects at enemies to knock them down and even deflect their bullets with a swing of your sword, you can also throw objects to stop bullets as well. Think of each stage as a puzzle, that has multiple answers. You can take any approach to a stage and will find the ideal solution. Every level is broken up into many rooms, and each room has different traps, enemies, and paths for you to take.
The pixel art in this game is truly amazing, really capturing the cyberpunk dystopia aesthetic, along with the music which features plenty of retrowave and synth tracks. That also goes greatly along with the story that revolves around the main character, who he is, and the origin of his abilities. One great mechanic is the dialogue system where you can choose how you reply to a character during these story sections.
You can also interrupt characters mid-sentence, which can lead to some consequences. You can make the main character into someone likable, or an impatient asshole. The dialogue system really serves as a way to interact with the story and also get more story tidbits. Even some decisions can bring out some very unexpected results. The story doesn’t really deviate too much based on the choices you make, but certain situations do change depending on what you say. I highly implore anyone that is interested to not look up any spoilers before picking up this game as the story is best enjoyed when you don’t know what’s coming up. I highly recommend Katana Zero which is available on Steam for $14.99 USD, and has recently been updated with a hard mode and a speedrunner mode.