This monochrome game looks and feels as though it has more ambition than it can handle. It has some decent moments but even they come across as pointless and repetitive. Unfortunately, a sleek look and some tongue-in-cheek humour is simply not enough to elevate this game to the status it desires as an intelligent and imaginative slaughter fest. Kill The Bad Guy is an indie puzzle game that revolves around assassinating targets using objects in the environment whilst remaining undiscovered and depicted in a simple, understated artistic design with plenty of dark humour. Though the game suffers from some key issues you’ll still manage to squeeze a few hours of good old fashioned puzzling fun out of it even if it is an incredibly slow starting game. This is a puzzle game that puts you at the heart of revenge murdering individual targets who are more often than not based on real life offenders.
The objective of the game is rather self-explanatory. In each level you must kill a bad guy in various, unusual ways. The game comprises of 60 of these bone shattering, blood splattering levels. For every level there are ways in which you can manipulate objects within the environment to bring about your target's doom. At the start of every level, a fairly amusing profile about your intended victim which tends to include details of their crime and a name that vaguely points towards somebody in real life like ‘KimDotKom’, in reference to Kim Dotcom, or ‘Oscar’, in reference to Oscar Pistorius. After reading your target’s profile you’re then dropped into a white environment with black objects such as cars, ropes hanging on walls, steam vents and pianos that you can pick up, rotate and combine. You’re given very little guidance on what to do from here, except for the first few levels, so instead you have to work out what will kill the target. By selecting dark coloured objects you’re shown a large array of arrows that point to where you can place objects, such as atop buildings or anywhere on the ground. Objects that can be combined are coloured green picking up one of the constituent parts so, in this sense, it’s not particularly challenging to work out what goes with what.
There are very few controls other than picking up, rotating and combining items but after you have managed to pull off your mission, camera controls allow for a cinematic execution of the target. The camera can switch angles to get the best shot but it does come across as a rather pointless feature. During actual gameplay you can, rather helpfully, pause the game and look around the area but objects cannot be manipulated meaning that, when you decide what you’re going to do, you need to do it quickly. This is fairly useful in later levels because there are usually so many elements to contend with that a moment of quiet is necessary to figure out what you’re going to do. Assassination is not a matter of strapping a spear to a glorified slingshot and flinging it halfway across the map into the poor sod’s chest though, oh no, you have CCTV and the police to be concerned about. The real challenge of the game comes with doing everything undetected as these obstacles, and later on bodyguards, all have lines of sight. If you’re caught doing any of your dastardly assassinations then its mission failed only to try again but with less probability of your assignment being plastered all over YouTube.
As you progress through the levels you’re not just exposed to new challenges like the police and cameras, there is also a pretty significant increase in the variation of objects you’re given to assassinate targets. It must be said, however, that the first ten levels of this game are by far the worst of them all. Truthfully, I was amazed that I even progressed beyond them and discovered that the game actually contained something challenging and interesting. The initial levels are intended to be tutorials that ease you into the mechanics of the game. Instead, the experience is painfully dull and excessively lengthy. Never has a ‘tutorial’ chapter dragged on so slowly and uneventfully. Worse still, it doesn’t even feel like a tutorial as there are very few instructions on what to do or how to do it. Instead you must trawl through what feels like a rite of passage before being allowed into the real game, suffering through level after level of repetitive music that sounds as if put together by two thirteen year olds. With an incredibly limited set of tools to experiment with, death often looks the same bar one electrocution and one screaming guy on fire. Now, whilst I’m of course glad that’s not all there is to this game I doubt many people enjoy the feeling of suffering for somebody else’s art.
Thankfully the game opens up after a couple of hours play and you’re exposed to more than one way to kill your target as methods gradually become more complicated. The animations of your dying target do become a tad more varied in that they fall over when they are electrocuted but overall there’s not much difference between driving a spear through your target’s head, dropping a car on him and crushing him with a wrecking ball as, either way, he ends up as a bloody smear on the pavement. In a game where the method in which you kill your target is designed to be the be all and end all of the gameplay I would have expected more death animations such as a crushed, flattened body or some pierced limbs.
The game has some degree of re-playability as each level have secondary objectives that offer some basic tasks: catch the tooth of your fallen victim, kill them on the first day and find a hidden passport. The only interesting additional objective is to kill your target in a specific manner as the rest are repetitive and restrictive. The passport tends to be in locations like beneath cars or objects and hidden within buildings that become transparent as you pan over them. By completing these unimaginative challenges you gain stars which count towards unlocking a bonus level at the end of each chapter. These bonus levels are, ironically, quite a bit more interesting than the main game as they tend to have more varied objectives like killing 30 zombies before they hobble over to the other side of the screen. Despite the fact that the bonus levels are pretty fun it’s still a shame about the ways in which you must unlock them as repeatedly clicking on a tooth that bounces away from your target after he dies is extremely dull. Searching for a passport in the environment is also very boring as, due to the unfurnished nature of the area, it’s very easy to spot them. Even though they are sometimes hid under an object this really adds in little to no depth and, frankly, I don’t know why they wouldn’t offer up different objectives.
As a final note I found that the game’s humour often borders on the tasteless as there are sometimes very graphic descriptions of real life crimes such as those perpetrated the Columbine killers that some, if not many, may find uncomfortable. Generally the profiles of your targets are humorous covers of less invasive crimes such as fraud and embezzlement but when the game describes in graphic detail the crimes of the monstrous Albert Fish then the vibe of what is supposed to be a carefree, slaughter orientated romp is very quickly killed and is instead turned into something much darker and not at all light-hearted. Questionably dark humour aside the profiles still do offer good, immersive introductions to the start of every level and are relatively engaging. Besides, since all the targets look the same it’s good to offer up some way of distinguishing between them.
The game is decked out in a very simplistic design of pure white backdrops and solid black interactive objects. This professional feeling environment comes across as clean and crisp and, overall, it’s all very pleasant. The simply designed streets and parks never feel too plain however as, once your assassination attempts start, the landscapes are quickly cut through with bright red blood, fiery orange explosions and piercing blue water. Your targets also stand out vividly in comparison to their surroundings as they each support a yellow jacket and massive red bull’s eye target on their faces so there’s no chance that you’ll mistake a regular pedestrian for them. Unfortunately all of the targets look identical to one another and any kind of variation, even if it was just the colour of the jacket, would have done the trick but, regardless, I enjoyed how apparent they were in their surroundings.
I’ve already mentioned that I didn’t like the music and, whilst initially I enjoyed it, it quickly grates on you as essentially it’s just a sort of rap lyric of ‘kill the bad guy k-k-kill the bad guy’ over and over again to a beat. Thankfully the music only plays at the start and end of every level and not during gameplay as it would quickly become unbearable. Aside from the music the game has very good sound effects with plenty of appropriate noises for almost every action you can perform.
Whilst the game starts off slow and simplistic it quickly develops into a more robust murder simulation with some fairly imaginative solutions to the dilemma of how to discreetly kill your target. I particularly enjoyed the rather difficult task of luring your target to a particular spot or changing the path they were following by quickly putting obstacles in their way without them noticing. The level of difficulty scales as you play but even when the game becomes more complex there are moments where it comes across as pointless and repetitive. The secondary objectives are uninspiring but add in a reason to replay the previous levels and the bonus levels are a nice change of pace if you’re tired with the base game. Currently the game feels incredibly overpriced at $15 as it feels very much like a free, online game that’s been bulked out with additional levels and a couple of added in features. I would recommend waiting until the price has dropped but if you enjoy flippant murder simulation games with stark graphics and environmental manipulation then perhaps you’ll enjoy this more than I did.