Despite its title and similar theme, developer Grasshopper Manufacture made clear that Killer is Dead is not a sequel to Suda 51's GameCube/PlayStation 2 game Killer 7. The game launched in Summer 2013 across the globe, with XSEED publishing in North America and Deep Silver publishing in PAL territories. A PC version is releasing May 9th 2014.
The story begins in a darkened alleyway where a kidnapper named Tokio with a mechanical gun-arm tries to escape while a silhouetted Executioner with a sword simply bats away all of his shots and slowly walks forward. The kidnapper manages to get the drop on the Executioner and shoots him dead, but the Executioner simply gets back up and cuts off his gun-arm before killing him.
The game the switches to the present with Mondo Zappa, who has officially become a State-sanctioned Executioner--an agent who travels the world in order to take out "S-Level Criminals"--for the Bryan Execution Agency. Upon receiving confirmation that he has been employed by Bryan's office (but not Mika), he quickly receives his first job from an artist named Robert to slay a monster that has been terrorizing his neighborhood.
The job leads him to a weird house where he meets a girl named Alissa, begging Mondo to stop Alice after she was tricked by a "scary-looking man." After fighting his way through various rooms, he quickly discovers that Alice and Alissa were the same girl. She mentions that the scary man was named David shortly before turning into a hideous monster. Mondo slays Alice and ends up putting Robert's soul to rest.
Two weeks later, Mondo is sent on his next job, to kill his predecessor Damon. Before he dies, Damon tells Mondo that he needs to find a beacon of light that will never succumb to the darkness.
Later, the Agency's next contract comes from Moon River, the deposed ruler of the Moon. Mondo fights his way through a mansion on the Moon and comes face-to-face with David. He manages to slice his neck, but David simply retreats, telling Mondo he needs more blood to kill him. Mondo ends up returning to the office, annoyed that he couldn't complete the contract, but Moon River forgives him. Mondo lets her stay at his houseboat until he can complete the job.
Mondo then takes on a handful of other assignments, including a songwriter who has lost her ears, an alien research facility that under attack by an experiment gone wrong, and an ersatz-Thomas the Tank Engine on a collision course with Moscow. Curiously, the client either fails to come through with cash payment, or it is spent before the office sees any of it.
In-between these missions, Mondo starts getting flashbacks of memory that he had forgotten, including the fact that he was a moon-person with a magical unicorn that saved him from death. He ends up taking a contract on a lady in red who is haunting both his and Mika's dreams, and discovers that David was his brother shortly before killing her. He also realizes that David was the Executioner who saved Mika (from Chapter 1 in the game).
Waking back up, he decides to finish his contract with David, following him to his mansion on the Moon again, and then facing him in a final showdown. With the mansion and David destroyed, Mondo is now the ruler of the Moon, but the power from the Dark Side of the Moon makes Mondo start going crazy. With one desperate move, he cuts off his "Musselback" arm before it can infect him like the rest of the "Wires" enemies.
In the final scene, Moon River returns to the Bryan Execution Agency, asking them to take her contract on another target. Though she doesn't name the target, a silhouetted figure can be seen brushing his hair back on the Moon, just like Mondo did, while the Moon mansion reconstructs itself.
The gameplay of Killer is Dead incorporates a mix of hack-and-slash and third-person shooting mechanics. Mondo wields a katana named "Gekkou" which he carries with him throughout the game. Though the weapon cannot be changed, it can be upgraded with moon crystals. Mondo's left arm, "Musselback," can be used in melee to break the guards of enemies or transform into a few different types of gun.
A big part of combat is the dodge command. With one button, Mondo can guard against or dodge nearly any attack. A successful dodge allows him to enter rage mode, which lets him cut the attacking enemy several times over in a second.
Every successful melee attack builds up a combo meter that can be added to as long as Mondo is not hit or takes too long between strikes. With a high enough combo meter, the player will be able to perform one of four execution moves to gain extra health, blood or moon crystals while killing an enemy in melee.
As Mondo travels around the world, working his way through the story missions, various side missions will pop-up that can be completed in any order. Several of them include fighting through various Wires to retrieve an item for the Agency. A few involve taking command of a turret to shoot down waves of enemies. One involves lighting a series of torches to retrieve a cursed Japanese doll before Mondo's health runs out.
On top of those, there are the "Gigolo Missions" where Mondo must stare at a lady repeatedly to build up enough "Guts" to give her a present, then repeat the process until either the woman beds him or time runs out and she leaves. If Mondo gets caught staring at the woman's body too long, the target will get pissed off and leave him anyway.
Through successfully completing Gigolo Missions, Mondo can unlock extra sub-weapons for Musselback, including a drill, a freezing gun, and a charge cannon.
There are also "Scarlett Missions," which are unlocked as Mondo discovers various hiding places of Scarlett throughout the story. By completing Scarlett's challenges, Mondo can build up enough Guts to earn a chance to bed her.
Mondo's katana and the weapon that sees the most use in the game. The sword can be upgraded with moon crystals to allow Mondo to do extra moves with it.
Mondo's fake left arm that supposedly contains over 200 different functions, though only a handful of them are actually revealed in the game. By itself, the arm works to break the guard of defensive enemies and continue combos. However, the arm can also transform into different kinds of sub-weapons. All sub-weapons require Mondo to have at least some Blood in stock to use. Only the default sub-weapon is truly necessary to beat the game.
- Arm Cannon: Mondo's default sub-weapon, a gun that fires blood bullets at the target, and can insta-kill some enemies with a headshot.
- Drill: a sub-weapon acquired by successfully completing Natalia's first "Gigolo Mission." The Drill allows Mondo to break through certain walls and gain access to whatever's behind them. It can also be used in combat to break through enemy guards, but is not as effective.
- Freeze Cannon: a sub-weapon that partially coats the enemy in ice, slowing down their movements but otherwise doing no visible damage. Acquired by successfully completing Koharu's first "Gigolo Mission."
- Charge Cannon: A variant of the standard Arm Cannon, except that this version can hit a wide area-of-effect instead of one target at a time. Uses more blood with each shot as a result. Acquired by successfully completing Natalia's second "Gigolo Mission."
Development of the game started in Spring 2011 while the planning originally started as far back as 2009. Yoshimi Yasuda is the executive producer of the game, with Suda 51 working as the executive director and scenario writer. Suda has stated that he was inspired by thinking of the dark side of the moon in conceiving the game's premise. More specifically, he has said that the game is a darker take on Ian Flemming's James Bond series, dubbing it a "Dark Side 007". He also cites "Hissatsu Shigotonin", a samurai drama show about hired killers, as a source of inspiration, and compared Mondo to Patrick Bateman from the film and novel American Psycho.