I was expecting something but then Katana ZERO was not that, in fact, so not that in a much better way. Yes, it is still a 2D action platformer game. Based on what I have seen of the game at PAX, I expect to see some combat in this game. But still, the thing that I like the most about this game is not the gameplay. Rather it is the narrative which is engaging, deep, dark, enthralling, and twisted.

This is one of the rare game that makes my hands gripped on the joy-con and eyes stay on the screen of the Switch. Katana ZERO has combined many elements that you wouldn't be able to find in other indies title to make might be the best game of this year for me.

Askiisoft was behind the development of the game while Develver Digital handled the publication. In Katana ZERO they will put you in the role of “The Dragon,” which is a skilled assassin with the tasks of eliminating high-value targets. In about 15 levels of the game, you will go around with your katana to wipe out rooms full of enemies while keeping on roll dodging and slow down time. You also can take up various objects and throw them at the enemies. At first glance, maybe Katana ZERO kinda looks like those 2D action platformers but there are much more to discover in this game.

Gameplay and Narrative

I just love the narrative of this game and I even found the compelling charm of how the story ties closely with the gameplay. These days we have the issue with video games' storytelling that - it is still a video game. The story with many cutscenes is just a side factor to color up the core gameplay mechanic of the game. And more than one, we found the narrative is somewhat contradicted with the gameplay. Like you die in a platformer many times but the game would just conveniently forget to mention that. We have got used to it and our brains just turn off when it comes to this dilemma.

Katana Zero The Best 2d Platforming Action Review
In Katana ZERO, the narrative of the game is also tied to the gameplay.

For example, in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild from Nintendo.  In the late state, we have Link just randomly goes out to collect 50 rushshrooms to make quick money while Calamity Ganon keeps on destroying Hyrule. That happens because the game mechanic allows the players to do so. Eventhough, do it that means leaving Zelda to combat against Hyrule Castle's beast alone. I don't argue with that, but it would be much nicer if we could tie the two factors closer. We have a good example of that, which is the God of War. The overall plot of the game is to scatter the ashes of Kratos’ wife on the highest peak in the realm. The mission is not time-sensitive so you could explore as much as you want. Atreus also makes a suggestion about that in the boat. So Katana ZERO  is not the same, but the narrative of the game is also tied to the gameplay.

Spoiler ahead!!!

If you don't want to be spoiled about the game - you should just skim through the below part because I am about to drop off some spoil elements. Still, I will try to do my best to keep it light. Like I wrote before, “The Dragon” is an assassin samurai who goes after high-value targets. So before each mission, you will meet a therapist to talk about your last mission and get a dosage of medicine. In that talk, he will ask you about the event that occurred and you will have a list of dialogue options to respond. You could also ask directly for the drugs. Maybe he will get upset, but still, he will oblige.

Katana Zero The Best 2d Platforming Action Review
Before each mission, you will meet a therapist to talk about your last mission and get a dosage of medicine.

Continue with the game, you slowly unfold the plot of the game and found out that that medicine will actually give you the ability to see the future. But with its usage, you will start to lose your time perception. If you don't drink your medicine, you would lose your mind and just wander around like a crazy person.

The end

It is very cool to see the resolution of the character with the shackle of this drug while also utilize it to increase his strength. In Katana ZERO, there are also many moments where  Kojima-esk cutaways to different sections in the game. Like those moments where the player just appears back in the chair with the therapist in the middle of a mission. This increases the lost time's sense. We continue with the story and  “The Dragon” finally found out about who he is, what is the real deal with the drug and who they were using it against him. That was really cool to see gameplay intervene with the narrative in Katana ZERO which makes you really sense the time perception.

I love Katana ZERO 

I have to say it but Katana ZERO is not a really long game. With you is concentrate on it, you could really expect to play through it in just 4 or 5  total playtime hours. So if you have some free time on the weekend, you could definitely go through all of it in one sitting. Because of that, some might consider the game to be too short, but I have never felt that way about this game. In fact, I think it has the exact right length. The game is available with the price tag of only $14.99, a great deal right? You should definitely grab it.

Katana Zero The Best 2d Platforming Action Review
The game is available with the price tag of only $14.99

Katana ZERO has left a lasting impression on me. I think in the future it would be hard for me to find a better game than it. The game features a gorgeous pixel art style with neon noir, the soundtrack is amazing and the narrative is just fully captured me inside. Moreover, the gameplay is engaging and really fun to play. Katana ZERO is a must buy items on your shopping list.