After breaking his Kickstarter 2014 fundraising goal increased tenfold in just a few days, the surreal psychological horror RPG Kill finally released on Christmas Day 2020. Filled with quirky humor, characters that seem real, and emotion-based team-based combat mechanics, Kill is a genre RPG that’s not only cute and imaginative, but a sit-on-the-edge thriller that’s well worth the wait.
The game, in its charming 8-bit pixel and hand-drawn sketchbook styles, offers a glimpse into the psyche of Omori, a young boy struggling with the dizziness of human emotion, from joy to depths of fear and anguish. While this may look like your typical RPG Maker game, Kill manages to navigate the deep themes of darkness, including depression and anxiety, into the haunting and magnificent delusions that its protagonist creates to escape his reality.
Omocat, a clothing artist and illustrator turned game developer, initially imagined Kill, an echo of the Japanese word for young male social hermits, or hikikomori, in a series of Tumblr webcomics from the early 2010s. The comics and the game feature Omori, a young boy trapped in Headspace, a clean room. Around him there are only the essentials: a tissue box, a cat, a laptop, a sketchbook and a blanket on an always cold ground, all lit by a single black bulb. The game wastes no time setting the stage, telling the player:
“Somewhere in your mind you feel like things haven’t always been like this. Your story is already over. You just have to remember it.
Exploring the outer limits of the room, you find a door that leads from the secluded white room into a colorful dream world filled with friends, adventures, relaxing picnics, and a list of seemingly side quests. endless. Listening to small arguments, teases, jokes, and fulfilled flirtatious people get a glimpse of young teens through their teenage years. From Hero, the perfect older brother who knows how to get out of any situation, to Mari, Omori’s older sister who is always ready to heal the crew with her picnics, Omori’s friends sail the world dreams with their own special abilities, facing any danger. it could happen.
In combat, teens must learn to master teamwork as well as their own emotions, ranging from neutral emotional states to extremes like mania and misery, as the game intensifies with increasingly difficult bosses. (but never unmanageable). By being in touch with their own mental states and with each other, children quickly learn that the only way to win is to work together. A basic mechanic is to “follow” your friends’ attacks, work together to deal extra damage to enemies, as well as trigger different emotional states to gain special stat-modifying perks. Colorful, hand-drawn combat animations, from sketchbook-like sprite attacks to individualized animations of abilities like Headbutt, Twirl, and Annoy, add a childish touch to the gameplay. In tag-team attacks with Omori, for example, Aubrey texts him and, after receiving a lukewarm ‘thumbs up’ response, fills with feelings of love and hits his enemies where it hurts (their hearts ). With quirky random encounters and plenty of potential combinations of special abilities, trackers, and items, there’s enough innovative and fun content to keep the fight engaging for even the most avid gamer.