Kill la Kill fans have been drooling for a game ever since Studio TRIGGER’s anime blew everyone’s clothes off in 2013. For some reason, it’s taken developers until now to get a game out. What we’ve finally ended up with is Kill la Kill the Game: IF, which is, appropriately enough, a fighting game. Arc System Works and A+ Games were the perfect developers for this project. Does this game do the series justice and will non-fans of the series appreciate it? Let’s find out.
Kill la Kill: IF’s Story
The primary focus of Kill la Kill: IF is the single-player story mode (aside from the fan service), which comes in two separate installments. You can play from Satsuki Kiryuin’s viewpoint in the first version of the story mode. I won’t go into too much detail about what happens in the story, but in a word: disappointing. It’s like the developers tried to cram too much of the anime’s story into the game while also not including almost anything of substance. There are some neat plot points that you don’t find in the Kill la Kill anime, but most of it is a retread of the anime’s final arc. The story is made up of cutscenes and fights, as most fighting games do.
The same goes for Ryuko Matoi, who takes up the second version of story mode. I wanted to either learn more about these characters or have a more substantial retelling of the anime’s story. What ended up happening was most of the initial plot points are rushed over and we’re left with missing information that is critical for new fans. As a fan of the series, even I was lost at some points. There just isn’t enough grounding of the narrative to understanding what’s going on, even by the end of both character’s respective stories.
What also kind of bothers me is that some of the same scenes are reused in both stories. I will say that although the game is gorgeous, it just feels like they relied too heavily on having to separate story scenarios as if that would be enough to make up for the lack of content. Is the story mode still enjoyable? Definitely. Honestly, I think one story mode, switching back and forth between protagonists, would have allowed for a more cohesive, complete narrative.
Something, Something Japanese Move
Let’s get to the part that you all really care about: the gameplay. Kill la Kill: IF’s gameplay is smooth and handles really well. It’s the highlight of the game, as it should be. The game handles movement in 3D space, similar to many Dragon Ball Z video games. You can dash towards an enemy at any time by double-tapping the jump button and then beat them with a variety of moves. There are standard attacks that do a mild amount of damage and ranged attacks that can be used to catch your opponent off guard or keep them at bay. You then have a heavier guard-break attack that sets up an opponent for a special move or combo.
Combos in Kill la Kill: IF are pretty simple, but they are in the game if you’re wondering. You can combine attacks with various directional inputs, like in most fighting games, to bring out new moves. All pretty standard stuff, but it works well and that’s what matters.
Special moves are activated by filling the yellow gauge underneath your health bar, called the SP Gauge. You get three different ones for each character that you activate when you charge up one portion of your SP Gauge, of which you have four.
The Valor system is another aspect of the gameplay that you’ll want to keep in mind. Instead of a special mode, you can also activate Valor mode, which sets you up for a rock-paper-scissors bout with the opponent. If you win, you’ll gain one Valor level. If you manage to get to level three, you can unleash a clothes-rending Secret Art, provided you’ve completely filled up your SP Gauge.
All in all, this game has a really satisfying gameplay system even if it is a little bit simple. It should keep you interested for dozens of matches with friends or online. There’s also a few challenge modes if you want some more things to do.
Skimpy Outfits, Skimpy Roster
Probably the most disappointing aspect of the game, when you get into multiplayer mode, is the lack of playable characters. You start off with six playable characters (two of which have additional playstyles) and unlock two more by finishing the story mode. There are also some collaboration colors for Ryuko and Satsuki but it’s just not enough. I would have been happy with 12 or so characters, and I understand that Kill la Kill doesn’t have that many fighters in the show, but eight just feels so barren. With other games in the same genre boasting dozens of characters, Kill la Kill the Game: IF just can’t compete.
That being said, the characters that are included are incredibly fun to play. In addition to Ryuko and Satsuki, you can play as the Elite Four. Each of them is pretty true to the anime and are each unique characters. I really wish Mako was in the game with her Goku uniform though, but it’s just not the case. It just irks me that they didn’t add some creative characters like her; I’m sure they could have come up with something.
Kill la Kill: IF is gorgeous to look at; it does a really nice job of capturing the anime’s aesthetic and animation. There are times when I legitimately thought it was a scene torn straight from the anime. Movement is fluid and characters look full of life. Everything is captured beautifully. Well, except for the environments, which feel a little empty.
Arenas, of which there are only six, are pretty much flat and don’t really have any variety. They still look neat, but I wish there was more of a mixup besides just size. Anyway, the characters look like they were ripped from the anime and colors look crisp. The game does stutter a little bit on Nintendo Switch, but overall it runs pretty smoothly.
“Before my body is dry”
Kill la Kill: IF takes most of the soundtrack from the anime, but there are a few new tracks. The soundtrack does what it needs to, although “Blumenkranz” does play too many times in my opinion. The sound effects do a good job, from the tapping of shoes on the arena to the sword strikes.
I played the game with only the Japanese audio, but there is the option to play with the English dub as well, if you’re into that. The voice actors are (I think) the same ones from the anime, which adds some more authenticity to the game.
Down to the Final Layer
Overall, I had a really good time with Kill la Kill the Game: IF, even if the content was a little sparse. The vibrant characters and gameplay mechanics should be enough to keep any fan of the series invested for quite a few hours.
The biggest issue for newcomers is that they’ll be kind of lost when it comes to the story. If anything, this game will serve more like a gateway drug for new people to get into the anime. If you don’t care and love any fighting game you can get your hands on, this is a solid title, even if the cast is pretty small. It’s a good game, but it just doesn’t do what I wished it would in the end. It’s like the developers were rushed into making this, which is a shame because the series deserves a lot more.
This review is based on a digital copy of Kill la Kill the Game: IF, as provided by the publisher for Nintendo Switch.
Kill la Kill the Game: IF is a good game, but it could have been so much more. I can really only recommend this to die-hard fans of the anime and thirsty fighting-game fans.
Word player, note manipulator, and logic breaker. My favorite game is The Last of Us. I’ll argue with you about it all day. Try me. “To the edge of the universe and back, endure and survive…”