Katana Zero Review – A Little Game That Made a Big Impression

Katana Zero is a game I put off buying for a while, as you can tell by the fact I’m writing this review 7 months after the game came out. But I tell you I wish I had played it sooner.

The reason I put it off is because the gameplay sounded really frustrating. You die in only 1 hit and then have to start the level over again. One hit deaths coupled with fast paced action sounds like it would be annoying more than anything.

It isn’t! It actually works really well. The levels are all quite short so when you do die, and you will, you’re never more than 30 seconds or so away from where you were when you died. While it can still be frustrating to die multiple times in one level, you never lose so much progress that it feels bad.

Despite only having 1 main weapon, a sword, there is enough variety in the game to keep things interesting throughout. You can find throwable sub weapons like knives, smoke grenades or bombs than stick to enemies and detonate at the push of a button. These coupled with the different enemy types that force you to play differently ensure that no two levels feel alike.

As good as the gameplay is, what really kept me coming back was the story. Why did nobody tell me it was so good!? It’s a story that starts out simple but is actually full of intrigue, twists and genuine heartfelt emotional moments.

Katana Zero’s story is not only notable for its excellent writing, but for how it’s told. You’re given plenty of dialogue choices in every scene but you’re only given a certain amount of time to make those choices. A bar starts filling when someone is talking and when it’s full you’ll automatically say whatever choice is highlighted.

Of course you don’t have to wait for it to run out and if you’re impatient you’re given the option of interrupting the other characters. This makes it so even when someone else is the focus of the cutscene, the player always has some agency. Moreover it keeps the pace of the conversations quick. There are no sluggishly slow monologues or long pauses as you decide what the best dialogue choice is.

The storytelling is also expertly worked into the gameplay. There is a story reason for why you restart levels and can slow down time. And there is a bossfight near the end against another soldier who has power of time that’s both mechanically and thematically fantastic.


And all of that, the fast, responsive gameplay and the wonderful story are accentuated by the graphics and audio. The pixel art aesthetic is simply beautiful and the animation is so smooth but also punchy when it needs to be. The OST is fulled with high octane synth wave tracks (check this one out!) that fit in just right with the weird dystopian future setting of Katana Zero.

All in all, Katana Zero is just absolutely fantastic! The only shortcoming is the game’s length. While I don’t mind a shorter game, some players might be put off paying for a game that’s over in 3 hours or so.

If that is the case for you, then keep in mind Katana Zero is very replayable. Beating the game unlocks a hard mode for extra challenge and a speedrun mode with unlockable weapons and a range of modifiers to change up the gameplay.

Katana Zero is available anywhere great games are sold! Also you can buy it on Steam here. For more of my thoughts on games as I’m playing them, check out my Twitter.

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