13 years after its original release on GameCube and PlayStation 2, Capcom's wonderfully idiosyncratic cult classic shooter Killer7 is now available on Steam.
For those unfamiliar with the game (perhaps you just clicked on this story by mistake, or are of a naturally curious disposition), Killer7 was the brainchild of Goichi "Suda51" Suda - it was developed by his studio Grasshopper Manufacture - and Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami. The result of that strange meeting of minds is one of the oddest, most wilfully abstruse titles ever to come from a major publisher.
On a very basic level, Killer7 is a third-person on-rails shooter. It tells the story of the elderly Harman Smith and his seven deadly assassins, who find themselves battling against terrorist organisation Heaven Smile. And that's probably all the plot you should get beforehand.
Killer7 was originally part of the legendary (and ill-fated) GameCube-exclusive Capcom 5 deal, which ultimately gave the world Resident Evil 4, P.N.03, and Viewtiful Joe. The fifth planned game, Dead Phoenix, was eventually cancelled.
In that line-up of already wildly inventive, distinctly unusual titles, Killer7 is easily the strangest, flatly refusing to follow previously established game design rules. It's an odd little beacon of creativity in the annals of gaming, and there's nothing quite like it, either before or since.
There's its striking visual style, all sharp lines and gentle gradients of colour, and its delightfully oddball control scheme, part auto-runner and static gallery shooter. And then there's the relentlessly unsettling, thoroughly off-kilter tone of the piece, its parade of unforgettable characters, its near-incomprehensible (yet oddly earnest) story, and its dizzying blend of surrealism and ultra-violence. Inevitably, it was an incredibly divisive experience on release in 2005, but Killer7's all-encompassing idiosyncrasies have ultimately, I think, made for a game that feels unusually timeless.
The good news is that Killer7's new PC incarnation is an absolutely wonderful way to enjoy the game. Its displayed at a proper 16:9 aspect ratio, including all drawn animation sequences, and runs at a solid 60 frames per second. The only exception to this is the characters' "reload" animations, which, according to Killer7's PC publisher NIS America, is restricted to 30 frames per second to avoid unwanted artifacts. Additionally, alongside a variety of quality of life improvements, hi-res textures have been added in some instances - most notably for Travis' memorable collection of T-shirts.
Best of all, Killer7 comes to Steam at a very reasonable price. The game itself costs £15.49, or you can opt for a £25.77 Digital Limited Edition which includes the game, a digital art book, and a 2018 remaster of Killer7's sublime soundtrack, courtesy of Masafumi Takada and Jun Fukuda. Additionally, there's a 10% discount on everything until November 22nd.