“Look at my face. We’ve met before, haven’t we?”
Ominous words, spoken by an enigmatic, perhaps ethereal, being in a rubber chicken mask ring truer now than ever, as the pulsing heart of Hotline Miami has carried on in a new vessel. This vehicle of ultraviolence, stylised murder and pulsing synth beats is called Katana Zero, and it’s a familiarity is welcome to someone like me, who enjoys hurting other people a whole lot. It’s also published by Devolver Digital who is fast becoming one of my favourite publishers purely for their unabashed willingness to make literal blood money with these fetishised killing simulators.
As the neon signage settles onto the screen, Katana Zero doesn’t even try to mask the identity of its muse. It’s not here to pretend that it didn’t draw inspiration from the blood-soaked ballet that is Hotline Miami, though it doesn’t copy-paste the whole formula as Justin Stander’s samurai slasher does quickly forge its own identity. While Hotline Miami rendered the player more of a voyeuristic overseer of the blood orgy being carried out by Jacket, Katana Zero plays like a traditional, albeit punishing, side-scrolling platformer.