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Review – Killer 7

posted on June 26th, 2006 by christian

Killer 7’s story is debated even more than its gameplay. I can understand why — it’s the gaming equivalent of an arthouse film. Ridiculously “cool” and stylish, yet relentlessly obscure and abstract, it doesn’t stop to let you soak it all up, nor does it give you an explanation as for why it chooses to act so strangely. By the time it is over the player has gone through a roller coaster ride of political scandal and conspiracy, as well as an orgy of violence and destruction. Finally, the big twist is revealed, and a thousand fanboys are on the ‘net typing away story analyses.

Here’s the thing about this whole mess; story wise, Killer 7 isn’t that far removed from most of Hollywood. In the archetypal thriller, questions are constantly raised, situations constantly come up, but by the end the major points are resolved. You watch the movie again, catch all the things you missed before, and bingo, you finally get it. Killer 7 works in much the same way. No, not all of the questions are answered, but after two play throughs (or one play and a read through the script if you’re lazy), most of the major plot points make sense. The rest is minor stuff that is up to personal interpretation (or said Internet plot analysis, if you’re still lazy).

That leaves two issues to discuss. The first is the artsy stuff. There’s no arguing that Killer 7 does a lot of weird things for the sake of it. I don’t think it is overly weird compared to some of the things you can find in film, but it can still be off-putting at first. My only explanation for this is simply that Suda 51 (the enigmatic main man behind the game) just wanted to do it that way. Much of it is simply there to set up a standard rhythm and motif for the entire game. A lot of it also fits in well with the games harsh, brutal universe, which is our second issue.

Don’t make me say it again. I’m a cleaner.

Killer 7 is by far one of the most gruesome and disturbing games out there. The topics it deals with, the things you will see and hear belong to a sick and twisted world of crime and corruption. Very few cutscenes don’t involve someone having their head blown off or a gunshot going off. Enemies die with violent cackles and fountains of blood. Excessive? Not a possibility in today’s world of gaming. Killer 7 is just presenting a very raw and punishing story in the most accurate way possible.

Ultimately, my point is that you shouldn’t think too hard about most of Killer 7. Maybe there is some super deep symbolism behind it all, but like in literature, one thing can have many interpretations, and most of them can be absolute bullshit. Call it like you see it, and interpret it your own way. Don’t worry what the psuedo-intellectuals and art students have to say. This is no doubt a sincere attempt to move games closer into the realm of art, but it is still a game. We are not meant to analyze before we have fun. The Internet is not “serious business.”

Oh, I almost forgot. I really enjoyed Killer 7. It had a few moments of sheer frustration with losing my characters, but it kept me from doing much else with my free time – the mark of a good game. If you haven’t played it already, I recommend you pick it up (it’s dirt cheap on either system these days), sit down, and stop thinking. Don’t worry about the story, don’t worry about why things are they way they are. Just remember it is an adventure game. Enjoy the strange sights and sounds (P.S.. – what a soundtrack), and take in the wonderfully twisted story. Only then can we spend two days arguing about it all. Or maybe we won’t. After all, I didn’t reveal the final twist…

Killer 7 doesn’t exist. It’s all in your head.

Christian Wolfe acknowledges the irony in reviewing a game filled with bullshit theories and analyses by using other bullshit theories and analysis. Try not to laugh too hard.

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