STAFF REVIEW of Kill the Bad Guy (Xbox One)

Wednesday, February 8, 2017.
by Adam Dileva

Kill the Bad Guy Box art Usually a game title has some deep meaning or it alludes to some plot device within the game you play that you’re left to understand later on. With Kill the Bad Guy, the title tells you exactly what it’s about up front; killing the bad guys. It doesn’t get much simpler than that, and that’s ok for what’s contained within, as you’re aware of your goal simply from reading its title. Even though it’s a game that’s centered around killing, it’s mostly light hearted, as you’ll need to do so in comical ways, like dropping pianos on heads, launching cars over buildings into their path, and even hurling dead dogs at them from a distance, much like we used to see in wacky cartoons from years ago.

You play as an unseen member of a secret society, sworn to kill bad guys that think they’re above the law. You’ll be killing murderers, mafia, thugs, war criminals, drug dealers, and more. Think of the premise of the TV series Dexter, as you’re killing all the bad guys, so that makes you the good guy in a twisted sort of way. The catch is that you must make every assassination look like an accident and never be caught, as you cannot let your secret guild be known to the populous.

To accomplish this you’ll need to kill each bad guy in a unique, and usually comical way, making it look like a simple accident. At the beginning of each stage you’ll be given a brief synopsis on why said person deserves to die. Sometimes it’s nothing that deserves death, and other times it becomes really dark and feels like its gone a little too far for a game that’s trying to be somewhat comical.

There are 6 worlds, each broken up into 10 levels, andeach of these are a short minute or two long. These bite sized chunks of gameplay begin with the target bad guy wandering the streets in a set path, and your goal is to utilize the objects and environment around you to cause their demise.

Artistically the world is very black and white, literally, with very little color in the world aside from your target and their blood once they are killed. Visually it’s sterile and looks bland, but it works for the setting, as it’s obvious as to what items can be utilized as traps since they are a darker shade than everything else in the level. These dark objects can be manipulated in different ways depending on the item. Some have no purpose other than to be moved to coerce your target to detour and force them to walk a different path into your traps, while others don’t do much on their own, but can be combined with other items to create a specific trap.

These objects are the basis of the puzzle element of the game, as you’ll need to figure out the correct placement and timing to spring your trap on the unsuspecting bad guy to complete the level. Since your targets don’t know they’re about to die, you’ll need to become creative in some of your executions. Getting them to walk down a certain path where you have your trap lying in wait is commonplace and making sure no one is nearby to witness it is even more important.

Most of the items and traps are easy to use, whereas others are a little more complicated and require precision and perfect timing. The real challenge though isn’t simply dropping something like a piano on their head, or launching a dead dog into them, but doing so without nearby pedestrians and security cameras seeing anything is. The early stages are simple, as you don’t have to worry about any witnesses, but eventually the levels are populated with numerous pedestrians and cameras, making your job much more difficult as it will cause an instant fail of the level if witnessed, even if you do kill them. It seems like many of the stages offer some sort of freedom to find a solution to killing the bad guy, but many felt like there was only one ‘right way’ to do so.

Luckily you can pause time if things become hectic and you need more of it to set your perfect trap, or you can also speed up time if you’re impatient while waiting for your target to get to the designated area. Even though the premise is about killing, it feels lighthearted and comical, as many of the deaths are something you may see on a Saturday morning cartoons of yesteryear, plus the added blood of course.

Each level has a checklist of optional objectives to complete, and they will net you a star, adding to your total "score". There are even collectibles on each level for those that want more replayability, such as a hidden passport and catching the bad guy’s tooth that goes flying once he is killed. This adds some replay value for those that complete the main objective quickly and it is a welcome addition.

Levels only last a minute or two each, and they are even shorter if you can figure out the solution right away, but that makes Kill the Bad Guy a great game for playing in short bursts. It does have a little of that ‘mobile game’ feel to it, but it does translate decently to the Xbox One. The controls can be a little confusing and obtuse, as the tutorial does the absolute bare minimum, leaving you to figure out how many of the combinations and controls work. For example, it took quite a while to figure out how to attach a piano dangling on a top to the building roof, something that wasn’t taught or made obvious.

While the levels do vary, there is a lot of repetition. There’s only a certain number of ways to kill the bad guys, and the real difficulty only comes in with making sure there’s no witnesses. Although the overall feel is very comical, there are some very dark themes and even worse are some of the descriptions for some of the targets. I get that you’re killing the worst of the worst, but the tonality of the game doesn’t always match the sometimes too-serious biographies of those you are to kill. I get that it’s dark humor, but it may be a little too much for some.

Kill the Bad Guy feels like a mobile game ported to a console, which doesn’t usually translate all that well, but it seems to work here, for the most part. Sure, it’s not terribly challenging or engaging after you’ve seen all the kill types, and it becomes stale in long play sessions, but the low price point and bite sized gameplay make this puzzler an enjoyable side-game to play when you need a break from the norm, even if its theme centers on killing bad guys in the bloodiest way possible.

Overall: 7.0 / 10
Gameplay: 7.5 / 10
Visuals: 6.5 / 10
Sound: 6.5 / 10


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