Kawaii Deathu Desu
Switch version tested
Review code provided
Kawaii Deathu Desu has you play a cute Japanese idol with a secret supernatural power used to beat off your hordes of fans and take their souls. It’s very much a mobile-type game as incredibly simple where the only variables are the character roster and backdrops. However, it can be pretty addictive to play, and while it’s isn’t an answer to One Finger Death Punch 2, it’s a quirky title you may enjoy as an alternative to something like The Witcher 3 or Two Point Hospital.
Starting with Death-chan who is a reaper class, you fend off a legion of fans by slashing them and harvesting their souls with a scythe. It’s pretty simple to do as you mash the L and R buttons based on the direction of the incoming assault. There’s nothing else you can do, but I did find my strategy was to press either L or R rapidly and whatever character you’re using will widen the gap on the other side, thus allowing for a bit of breathing space, albeit for a tenth of a second. By pure coincidence, I found that you can also play the game with the touchscreen by touching the direction you wish to attack. I preferred the buttons and stuck with them, but the touchscreen was better for navigating the menus.
So, you’re geared up and ready to go and you manage to clear the stage. Now what? It’s obvious, isn’t it? You immediately replay the level. That’s precisely what the game expects of you; to repeat over and over again as there’s isn’t any sort of gameplay other than pressing L or R. Of course, this is where the hook comes. Each time you take a soul, you accumulate it as currency to buy new outfits for your character or even better characters once you unlock more souls. I let my 10-year-old girl play it before me and half expecting her to quit a couple of minutes in then going back to Fortnite. She ended up grinding the game up until the point, as a responsible parent, I told her to take a break. I wanted a go.
Without being judgemental on the gameplay and assuming it’s a brainless button-masher (well…), I got why she was addicted to it. Like Shin-Chan, there’s practically zero input when it comes to combos and skill, but there’s something strangely addictive of playing one more go and unlocking a new dress or beefing up your character. Art imitating life? I need to take a step back and look at myself whether it’s because Kawaii Deathu Desu is an addictive and enjoyable game, or it’s because I want to unlock the most fabulous wardrobe of designer dresses. By the way, before I forget it, there’s a PvP mode too where you can play against another player locally in split-screen.
Other than earning yourself a new kimono or lolita dress, you can also upgrade your stats such as your damage, kick power, magic, blocking ability and life. Lots of stats for such a simple game. Is it worth it? Absolutely, as further into the game the legions of fans have more health – depicted in a Pez-like stack of blocks above their heads. In some of the later levels, it looked like a group of graphic equalisers were attacking me. To counter this, instead of picking up weapons (you can’t), you boost your stats with the souls you collect, and this enables you to hit harder or to take a hit (there’s also a gauge to perform a super move for a limited time). Regrettably, you can’t focus on the stats you want as each upgrade levels up a few attributes at a time. Each time you level up, the cost of the next upgrade is significantly more. Other than the apparel and stats, you can also play some of the theme music for some of the characters and view some static loading screens for your character that unlock as you progress. They’re a bit throw away and seem to be there to pad it out.
The graphics are, dare I say, cute – as in the term kawaii. That’s all it means, but as with the word otaku, some westerners adopt it thinking it means something else when it very much doesn’t. Just like Japanese pop culture, there are two sides of the scales: on the surface it’s a game with cute girls (if you’re into that sort of thing), wearing bows and other lolita apparel associated with the genre. However, there’s that darker side, and each time you take a slash (steady), the so-called cute character will briefly morph into a demon or zombie of sorts. It’s a nice touch as I don’t think my stomach could tolerate all the cutesy music and how life is always better with cake. Well, there’s some truth to it…
There are three game modes which are normal, hard and insane, and the game is spread across many countries that you unlock as you defeat the ‘baddies’. You have to play the normal mode first before you can get the hard and insane levels. For the first third of the game, you play the normal mode, unlock the hard mode which ranks you out of three, then the insane mode which is endless. It’s not: you’ll be dead before you know it. About two thirds in, you have to play the normal mode three times before you can unlock the other levels and it does get a little bit crazy as the enemies have more health so you often get them and they have a little kickback and then return once more. As tempting as it is to unlock new clothes for your characters, it’s safe to say that upgrades will pay off.
There’s a lot of replay value in a game that, on the surface, offers so little. Starting with Death-Chan (who sounds like the lead singer in Melt-Banana), you can unlock other characters and their tiers of clothing, stats and signature music. By the time I got to the third character, Suu the succubus, it had become evident that you need to invest in levelling up your character. However, by the time you get to the later stages in Brazil, you’re earning enough points to unlock the roster – and you’ll need to do that if you want to open the in-game achievements that are awarded for winning all their gear or killing 11000 enemies, for example.
Even after beating the game with your preferred character (mine being Emmy, the zombie), there’s something that drags you back to play the other characters. For every in-depth RTS or open-world title, Kawaii Deathu Desu is a refreshing, yet mindless game that you can pick up and end up playing for an hour or two at a time. It’s not for everyone – if you want something with a bit more skill, go for One Finger Death Punch 2.
TBG Score: 6/10
Platform: PC, Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 16/04/2020
No. of Players: 1-2
Category: Arcade, Action
Developer: Pippin Games
Download link: eShop