Review by yoshi_s_1sland

Reviewed: 03/05/15

All seven killers where there, included the eight of them. Edo MacAlister was smiling as always.

killer7 exudes vertigoes from its beginning, where by "beginning" we refer to the title screen and, before that, the screen where you are asked to choose between 50hz and 60hz video refresh rates (if playing on a PAL GameCube).

The gameplay is related with firstperson shooters; the playing characters, the members of the Smith syndicate, viewed in peculiar, skew, third-person while they are not aiming at the enemies. A view as powerfully expressive as just anything in this work, from the rarest sound effect that you may encounter once only to the sinister laughter revealing the presence of Heaven Smiles not far from where you are.

Heaven Smiles are your enemies and target; they don’t actually exist (as the game once cares to make explicit, despite it being evident) but it’ll seem to you that you are dead if your blood (energy) bar is emptied. Heaven Smiles are fright: they appear from nowhere, throw you into anxiety by their laughter, go after you, wound you by mere contact. They are pawns in the hand of a (Japanese) terroristic organization, they are then neither evil nor good in themselves — no individuality is in them, nor anything allowing distinction from one to any other one — rather living means shaped to serve the aims of someone. Aim which is — and is not —, on the whole, neither wrong nor right. Nonetheless, you work for the (United States) government, and have to oppose the organization.

You see the Smiths in third-person, until, put in alarm by their laugh, you want to pass to firstperson mode, where the space in front of you is scanned to locate the otherwise invisible them (assuming they were not behind your back, and you mistook the direction wherefrom the laugh was coming…) and then open fire on them before they can reach you, possibly hitting their variable weak point. The challenge turns vexatious in the lovely way games published by Capcom in that golden age of theirs did, if set on hard mode, or even… you may see later. The Smith are seven, have and can gradually acquire more skills that you distribute (besides common ones, each of them has a personal characteristic one).

None can move while in shooting mode. That is one of the thorough series of aesthetical and gameplay elements which build the sense of dread that constantly possesses killer7. A dread induced by absence as well as presences. A dread mostly immaterial, as the worst one is. In comparison, the blood regularly spilling from enemies ends up by going unnoticed, as the nugatory decorative element it in fact is. There is no moment the game is not aware of what the player is thinking and their emotions, therefore there is no time the game does not know how to unsettle them; and that it does, with bondless fancy and talent in its endless variations on one leitmotif.

Realistically, the most infamous of bosses is not the final one, rather the Chairman of the Educational Guidance Council. You meet most of killed bosses, and not only, later in the game, and all of them disclose to you their gratitude, for having unchained them from the misery of wordly existence. How can they still communicate, if they are dead? You are not understanding the story, if such a question crosses your mind. They are dead, there is no doubt, but it’s just natural that they are also alive; just like before, when they were alive, they were unmistakably dead. This is a dramatic representation, it’s masks. Masks behind masks, or rather, within masks, indefinitely: never expect to find anything but another mask, anytime you are going to rip one apart. And, speaking of people you have assassinated, one of them is your best and sole friend. Travis. He speaks as many truths as many t-shirts are in his collection if not more; he can be trusted; no wonder he is a phantom. Nobody still among the "alive" could afford such truthfulness, he himself admits. One phantom different from the others, in that he is aware of is being a phantom.

There is no corner of inferno — or of heaven, which is the same place — left unexplored during this apparent journey. Illusions and illusion bearers are lashed unreservedly, inexorably abraded, with the crossness of innocence and the violence of love for truth; the sole truth of particles spinning under the skin of "reality": that there is no "truth" and there is no "is".

It is not a shooter, weapons and their shots are not less imaginary than the enemy and ourselves, and any intention, it is a visual novel given nonesuch and gameplay-wise enjoyable interactivity. An instance of sheer art cinema that is also to be played. Its radiant beauty coming to life through sumptuous drawing and music, sound and graphic effects (and this, together with the general lack of care behind it, is a reason making the GameCube one the only actual release of killer7, PlayStation 2’s hardware unfit to reproduce it).

it is to those who will see that the graphical effect showing characters decompose into particles and compose into another character from particles is a visual statement of what we in reality consist of and are, and stand it, or rather, feel gratefulness for the sincerity; those who will stop to bathe themselves in the singing of cicale, celebrating its marriage with the sound of Smith’s feet on that fire ladder, that both the sun and the moon refuse to make their appearance in the bright or nocturnal sky (less for, perhaps, one of the two, once? But was that one of the two?) as if aware that they are not of help anymore.

Just looking at the world from this correct point of view, we now discover that it is all in toon-shading. That a wistful voice is whistling Greensleeves when ever a genuine life is extincted. God is a thrill, killer7 says. Life is thrills, killer7 is thrills, killer7 is life. Tremors and vertigines; disenchanted ectasy. It speaks to they who can still hear butterflies gleam in the night dusk and see the song they sing, when it’s winter and they are dust by some months. The receptionist of every of our hotels (our real houses) will always be one and only that one, as they are all the same hotel, the same house. Necessarily, the adventure ends exactly where it had begun, and had begun exactly where it had ended before beginning.

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Product Release: Killer7 (EU, 07/15/05)

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