Though I’m not a big fan of the Kill La Kill anime series, I do enjoy the over-the-top visuals and wild action that the show delivers. So I was hoping to see something similar done with the game based on the show, with a focus on making the fighting pretty exciting. And while Kill La Kill If does its best to accomplish this, it unfortunately falls victim to a number of poor design choices and meager offering of extras beyond its original story and online multiplayer. Those that love Kill La Kill the anime will doubtfully look pass this, but don’t expect the game to bring in any new fans.
The gameplay is a combination of Arc System Works’ cell-shaded visuals and arena style combat. The roster is small with eight characters that appear in the anime show and the game’s story mode. Everyone has their own special moves and unique effects when fighting, but there’s a huge problem with balance between characters. I often found myself getting hurt from incredibly far distances by a select few who could abuse their long range attacks in really crazy ways. This made certain fights against CPU opponents harshly difficult, as opposed to reasonably challenging. The arenas you fight in are pretty basic, despite their background visuals being pulled directly from the show. The area can either be wide or small, but you’ll always be fighting within a standard stage. Some people might not mind this, but I felt the battles ended up becoming way too similar since there was nothing else within the area to influence the fights.
The story in Kill La Kill If is original and created with the help of Kazuki Nakashima, the original scenario-writer from the show, and ends up being a spin-off from the show’s eighth episode. It follows Satsuki Kiryuin at first and eventually shifts focus over to Ryuko, who fans will remember is the main hero of the series. Both sides of the story have about ten chapters that consist of different 1 vs 1 and handicap battles, which occur alongside different story events. These battles ended up being inconsistently annoying to me, with certain battles being incredibly difficult or borderline unfair in some instances.
The worst ones were when I had to battle more than one character at a time, where my focus couldn’t shift fast enough between my targets. This often lead to me getting damaged very badly from attacks I couldn’t see or predict fast enough to react, let alone recover from shortly afterwards. In fights like this the CPU opponents will continuously chain their attacks together on you and leave little opportunity to fight back. Some opponents will have decreased health during battles like this, but it’s never consistent in how the fights are stacked against you, nor do you have anything else to aid you in balancing out the fight.
In addition to this, some battles during the story mode will be presented like boss battles against giant enemies or a legion of foes. These fights suffer from the same issues, but end up also slowing down the game when more enemies and effects appear on screen. Each boss battle I had against a larger enemy would also not have any health bar to indicate how well I was doing, which lead to me diving blindly into combat the majority of the time. It didn’t help that the hit detection against these larger enemies wasn’t always in my favor. These battles may have matched up to the events of the story playing out, but they felt very out of place next to all other fights I played through beforehand.
Other game modes are fairly straightforward and simple to get into. Local battles allow you to fight against the CPU or another player in Free Battle, while online matches play out in Player and Ranked matches. The online fights are not always stable and can lead to some nearly unplayable fights when you go into matchmaking. In all the battles I got into while going online, very few of them were stable enough to be fun playing online. There was a couple of times disconnections were an issue, but I often found myself in battles that ran very slow and impeded my ability to react to anything happening on screen. A lot of this can be dependent on your own internet but I wouldn’t be surprised if these issues persisted even on phenomenal internet connections.
The extras and bonuses in Kill La Kill If are very meager. There are some anime videos to unlock by finishing the Story Mode, but the rest of the Gallery in-game is filled with useless diorama and sound clips. There is not original artwork, bonus videos, nor anything from the anime series itself, which will be disappointing for Kill La Kill fans looking to see something extra. There are some alternate outfits for a few characters, but they aren’t anything special. Only certain fighters get a variation on their attacks and overall design which is tied to the story. The game does have downloadable content you can pick up eventually, but it hardly will add much here.
If you like the anime show and just want to see a bit more Kill La Kill, then you’ll somewhat enjoy what Kill La Kill has to offer. If not, then don’t expect this game to make you a fan. The fighting looks cool with visuals that mimic the design of the anime, but the combat can be frustrating in many ways. There’s not a lot of extras that are interesting enough to keep you playing, despite the story of the game being entirely original. I really wanted enjoy what was here, but Kill La Kill If just didn’t do enough to be anything beyond average. It’s a disappointing case of good style with no substance.
This review was based on a digital review code of Kill La Kill If for the Nintendo Switch, provided by Arc System Works.