We met up with Askiisoft's Justin Stander at PAX East just recently, hung out at their neon-clad booth and talked about the studio's upcoming action game Katana Zero. Stander started the interview off by explaining the game's base premise and had us hooked: "Katana Zero is a neo-noir action platformer with a focus on tight, fast-paced, acrobatic combat. Everybody dies in one hit, both you and the enemy so it's really difficult but also really rewarding because you instantly snap back into the action and get a little bit further each time, eventually beating each level in one go without taking any hits, just feeling like a badass. You can slow down time, smack people's bullets back at them". "The game always keeps it fresh, it constantly throws new enemies, environments and ways to play the game at you. Randomly, at one point there's a mine cart level".
It's clear that the developers have put a lot of time into creating the game's world. Stander explained a bit about the aesthetic of the game and what inspired the studio to go with the neon art direction: "It's got this great neon aesthetic and a driving 80s soundtrack, sort of like the 80s videogame but kind of bloodsoaked with neon lights over the blood in a grimy, dark city underbelly. Heavily inspired by Korean revenge thrillers such as Old Boy, The Man From Nowhere etcetera and that also heavily inspired the narrative as well. Also the movie Drive, just a general 80s synth-pop hyper-violence revival".
When it comes to story, Katana Zero brings a twist to the dialogue option realm. "There's a lot of narrative depth as well, you have this branching dialogue system that allows you to interrupt people as your speaking to them which works partially as a skip feature and partially as an ability to piss people off as you're talking to them. For example, you can kill someone before you hear what they have to say which completely changes how the story progresses".
Katana Zero releases for PC and Switch on April 18. Will you be slashing your way through the game's neon landscape?
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