By Tyler Lubben / July 11th, 2014
|Title||Kill The Bad Guy
|Release Date||May 28, 2014|
|Age Rating||Mature (Unofficial)|
My target steps out from the street and begins slowly walking across the map. It’s a fairly sparse and open area surrounded by buildings on either side, making my dark task a bit more difficult. Not one to be easily put off, I search for alternate means to accomplish my objective. Quickly grabbing some nearby rope, I use it to tie down a tree in an adjacent parking lot. As my target continues along his route, I grab a car out of the parking lot and place it on top of the tree. With everything arranged to my liking, I set my plan into motion. I take careful aim, leading a bit based the target’s movement, and cut the rope. The car lets fly, arcs beautifully over the buildings and finds its mark. What follows is a fiery explosion of blood and screams. With my mission complete, I look to the next name on my list of victims. Welcome to the world of Kill The Bad Guy.
Exkee’s new puzzle title has a simple premise: In this world, there are individuals who have committed heinous acts – murderers, rapists, extortionists, terrorists, despots – and have, one way or another, evaded the justice they should have coming to them. You are a member of a secret organization whose duty it is to see that these Bad Guys receive the punishment they so richly deserve. However, because what you do is in no way legal, it is paramount that you make each hit look like an accident to protect the identity of your group and its agenda. Secretly killing the worst of humanity for great justice? It’s an interesting premise to be sure, but how does it work in execution?
As it turns out, planning the brutal murder of a bunch of bad guys isn’t all that difficult – at least, not when you’re a disembodied force that can freely move tools and weapons in an instant. This can be seen as a double-edged sword. Since you aren’t playing as an actual “character” in the traditional sense, this means that the whole plot simply boils down to killing your marks, with no changes in that formula from start to finish. However, that is also refreshing for people who really just want to have some mindless fun without getting bogged down with a bunch of plot twists. As each killing must look like an accident, the usual implements of assassination are out. Instead, you’ll have to weaponize the items lying about each map. This is done by allowing players to sabotage certain objects, which can then be used to take out the target. As you can see from the pictures already featured, Kill The Bad Guy’s art style is pretty minimalistic. However, the monochromatic color palette actually helps serve a specific function. The stark black and white objects that populate the game actually help you figure out how best to erase your target. White objects are simply part of the environment – obstacles that you must work around. However, dark objects indicate that they can be interacted with in some way.
Setting traps starts simply enough; tasking players with cutting the brakes of cars or dropping heavy objects like pianos or wrecking balls on the target. However, as missions continue, things get more complicated. Players will have to combine different objects to create weapons that may not have been obvious before. My favorite of these is taking a metal bar and a rope, and attaching it all to a fence to create a makeshift ballista. Because nothing screams “accidental death” like impaling a guy with a big harpoon! Non-lethal items, such as dollar bills, firecrackers and dirty magazines, can be placed on the ground to coax the target into temporarily moving off his usual route, or standing still. Be careful, though, because, if the target sees you setting up any traps, he’ll get spooked and run off, forcing you to restart the mission.
Aside from each mission’s main objective of killing the Bad Guy, you can earn additional stars and points by completing secondary objectives based on how you do the deed. These usually involve using (or not using) specific means to kill the Bad Guy. Rather than outright telling you what to do, though, the game gives you a general clue. One of the easier examples of this would say something like, “This guy deserves the electric chair,” indicating that you should try to electrocute him in some way. Aside from discovering clever ways to kill your marks, you are also challenged with finding the Bad Guy’s passport somewhere on the map, and grabbing his tooth – which goes flying after he has been dispatched – as proof of his death. An additional star will also be awarded if you complete your objectives on the first day of each mission. To put it simply, these side objectives were a great idea. Each mission tends to have a very obvious way of killing your target, though things would get dull fast if you only did that. The secondary objectives were a great way to help you think outside the box a little. These objectives are also optional, so you won’t be required to rack your brain trying to figure out the trickier ones if you don’t want to. Though I’m sure completionists will jump at the chance to pull down higher and higher scores.
Things start simply enough, with Bad Guys walking through abandoned city sections, making snuffing them out easy. However, the game will eventually get more complicated with security cameras, civilians and police officers. If any of them see the Bad Guy getting killed, you fail the mission. Additionally, if a civilian or cop is killed in the process of taking down your target, you also fail. The key is finding a moment when the Bad Guy is in no one’s line of sight (simplified with a handy vision cone toggle) to strike. It is technically possible to kill the Bad Guy in the most crowded of maps, just so long as no one sees the precise moment of death. Later on, however, Bad Guys will begin traveling with bodyguards who keep a constant eye on their employers. This makes killing them next to impossible until you have dealt with the bodyguard first; either by killing him, as well, or separating the two in some way. Unfortunately, there are times when the puzzles’ difficulty aren’t what stand between you and victory. Even though you are essentially a god with free reign over the map with a simple drag of the mouse, there is no way to rotate the camera out of the set perspective each map gives you. This can make things difficult when precision aiming is necessary, like when trying to drop a crate from a tall building or bowling a Bad Guy down with a runaway wrecking ball.
Kill The Bad Guy’s soundtrack isn’t the most expansive, but they make the most of what they have. Do you like hearing the same rap song over and over as you play a game? Well, too bad (or good, if that’s more your style). The game’s theme song of the same name constantly plays during the menu screens between missions. Now, rap isn’t really my thing, but, as far as the genre goes, this is not the worst that I’ve heard. It has a nice beat, and the lyrics aren’t intrusive or nonsensical. During missions a handful of different tracks will play, all sharing a common theme that indicates the need for secrecy and brutality. Unfortunately, there were times where I felt this brutality was a little… misdirected.
While many of the Bad Guys you’re killing are made up for the game, a fair number of them are based on fictional villains and historical figures, both alive and dead. For the most part, this is an amusing tongue-in-cheek method of filling out the roster of Bad Guys, but there were times when I started feeling uncomfortable about what I was doing. While it was funny, if somewhat sophomoric, to kill Bad Guys named Voldemort, Saddam and Sauron, some targets were not was enjoyable. One target was a Canadian pop singer named JustOne Beer. Can you decipher that one? There were also a few “John Doe” targets whose greatest crimes were doing the backstroke at a busy pool or loudly talking on his cell phone on the subway. To me, this completely undermines the premise of the game if you start killing people not for justice, but because they’re annoying. The worst, however, was a nameless target of whom you could choose the identity. Your mother-in-law? Your ex? Your boss? It’s up to you. Or not, because, again, this went against the spirit of the game as I saw it. I opted to leave the bad guy as anonymous, and continued as usual.
For the most part, I found Kill The Bad Guy to be an enjoyable experience. Despite the fact that it’s a puzzle game at its core, the subject matter made it feel more like an action game. The freedom to carry out missions as you fit also keeps things from feeling dull. Do you want to take the easy way out and just run the Bad Guy over? Or do you put in a little extra effort and blast him into a pit of spikes? Unfortunately, the fixed camera angle can make it difficult to properly line up your shots at times, and the “story” gets tripped up with missions that inexplicably call from the murder of innocent people. Even so, if you can look past that fact, the game’s 60 levels are highly entertaining, and even contain a handful of bonus stages that task players with killing zombies, protecting a Good Guy and leading a line of characters through an obstacle course, Lemmings-style. If you’re looking for a way to kill six or so hours, as well as some pretty bad guys, this is a great way to do it.
Review copy provided by the publisher.
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