Taking more than a few cues from Hotline Miami, Katana Zero is a blisteringly fast slash-em-up with action that’s an absolute adrenaline rush. Which is appropriate because it’s largely about a neo-noir-inspired samurai who sticks a bunch of needles in his body.
It wears its inspirations on the sleeves of its kimono, but Katana Zero refines the tried and true one-hit-kill formula in a manner that makes it feels fresh, exciting, and innovative in surprising ways.
Katana Zero puts you in control of a nameless samurai assassin with the power to manipulate time and see into the future. In an extremely clever and fun framing of the action, every level is contextualized as being the planning of an assassination. So, instead of your character dying, you’re told “No… That won’t work,” as your precognition rewinds to the start (complete with old-timey VCR effect), giving you a chance to find a solution that doesn’t end in your death. Every level even ends with a security camera recording of what “actually” happened, which serves not only as a way to see your moment of triumph played back, but also to subvert expectations in interesting ways later on.