East Meets West In Katana Zero

If you haven’t already heard about the upcoming side-scrolling slash-em-up Katana Zero, you’re in for a treat. It combines a mixture of frantic arcade-style gameplay with a glorious 80’s inspired synthwave soundtrack and puts the responsibility for survival straight into the hands of the player with its brutal one hit kill combat. What’s more interesting about this game, however, is the way in which it blends Eastern and Western cultures to create something which is simultaneously neither and both.

Justin Stander, the game’s developer, claims that he was heavily inspired by the American movie Drive, and its influence shines through clearly in Katana Zero. The backgrounds are all lit up in neon hues, and the soundtrack mixes orchestral tracks with synthesizers to create an atmosphere you could cut with a knife. He’s even said that if this game were to be adapted for film, Ryan Gosling would be his number one choice of actor.

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Refn 2011. Drive.

In recent years, gamers looking for a challenge have gravitated to the gothic Dark Souls games from Japan video game company From Software. In an attempt to bring this level of difficulty and skill to a different genre, Stander has created a slick, attractive title which can be best described as Deadbolt with the soundtrack from indie darling, VA-11 Hall-A.

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Katana Zero gameplay, ASKIISOFT 2017

Asian Influence In Katana Zero

The main character of the game, Stander says, is a “weeaboo”. This is an often self-deprecating term for someone from the West with a love of Japanese culture, and describes the character perfectly: he’s infatuated with samurai and eventually travels to Japan to live out his fantasies. Of course, these abilities have been exaggerated by the media he’s familiar with, so he relies on quick reflexes and drugs which allow him to slow time to progress.

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Katana Zero gameplay, ASKIISOFT 2017

The neo-noir setting for the game is a perfect mishmash of cultures. It’s not quite cyberpunk, but classic American movies like Blade Runner and Ghost in the Shell have utilized the vision of a futuristic Asia to create living, breathing worlds that accentuate their stories. Katana Zero is no different. Bringing samurai into a neon-lit, modern setting is a fantastic idea, and raises some interesting questions including “How would a samurai fare against an enemy with a gun?” Thankfully, Katana Zero will allow us to find out.

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Katana Zero

This game has been in development for four years and is set to be officially released for Windows and OS X at some point in 2017. There are few games like it, and we’re really excited to see how it turns out. Hear about the game’s development in this interview done with the main man, Justin Stander, in this interview below.



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