Kill Strain Review: About as entertaining as a lead balloon.
"The enemy of my enemy is my friend". These are the words that everyone should understand and live by when they play Kill Strain.
Originally announced back in December 2014, Kill Strain was released by Sony last week. You'll be forgiven for not knowing that it had hit shelves, because judging by the player count I found myself queuing into, it seems almost nobody knew about it. To say that this was a stealth announcement is an understatement; Sony released this with all the hurrah of a small mouse coughing. It's almost as if they knew the quality of the game they had created and wanted it to fly as far under the radar as possible.
I guess this looks pretty cool...
What is a "Kill Strain"?
Kill Strain is a top down free to play shooter which involves 3 teams. You have the Mutants, and then two opposing human teams. And all 3 teams are vying for victory -- humans vs humans vs mutants, essentially. There are a variety of win conditions (or so I'm told, I only ever actually saw one which was a mutant win via time out). These win conditions are the destruction of any of the teams' bases -- by time out or if the mutants successfully manage to turn all human characters into mutants.
As one of the human character,s your job is to take over and defend your refinery and then secure victory either by destroying the mutant base, or by destroying the other human team's base. As a Mutant, your job is to spread what is effectively creep from StarCraft across the map and attack human players until you can eventually turn one human player into a mutant. I have no idea what triggers the ability to change a human into a mutant -- it seemed to allow me to do it at random, which is a bit disconcerting.
The only win screen I ever saw...
Now this is the part where in my reviews I'd normally talk about the good parts in detail and then lead onto any negatives I encountered, so I'll just go over the good stuff really quickly:
- It's free
That's it. That is the only positive I could find when playing this game.
Not only is the gameplay boring and clunky, it's also just not fun. The majority of the time your team runs around like headless chickens not really doing anything, either constantly skirmishing with the opposing human team (which I understand is a key function) or frankly just doing nothing. This lead to 20 minute games that ended by time out every time. And I mean EVERY TIME. I played this game for close to 5 hours, and this happened every game.
That is....in the games that actually worked. The number of crashes and disconnects I encountered where ludicrous. About 80% of the games I played had at least one person on one of the teams drop out right at the beginning, as if they never successfully loaded in. This inevitably puts said team at a severe disadvantage. Now this is either due to bad net code or they realized that their time could be spent better doing almost anything else, like watching paint dry.
An all too familiar sight...
The two human characters you get to choose from at the beginning of the game (you only get to choose one, and this is the character that you will play as seemingly forever if the rate at which you acquire currency is anything to go by) are incredibly stale and downright boring to play.
On the game's website it lists every match as dynamic and different. This couldn't be more wrong
I chose to play as Sylvin, who had the ability to turn invisible, stun enemies and front flip. Each of these skills where on a MOBA style cool down, which left you with just holding right trigger to use a basic attack that felt like it was hitting with all the force of a wet flannel...
The fact you are stuck with one character, unable to play anyone else until you have succeeded in grinding out the currency required -- and I assume lose the will to live as you force yourself through this hell -- means that every single game ends up feeling the same. On the game's website it lists every match as dynamic and different. This couldn't be more wrong. Literally every match ended up playing out the same way till I ended up staring at the ceiling waiting for my soul to leave my body wondering why I was even putting myself through this pain anymore.
When does the fun start?
Are we having fun yet?
Kill Strain is just not fun. Whilst the human vs human vs mutant gameplay is a novel idea, it is poorly executed. The only positive I can put forward for this game is the fact that it's "free". But with in-game purchases (which are basically mandatory if you actually want to play as anyone different) and purchasable skins, this game feels thoroughly less free than previously thought. It's almost as if Sony understood all this and that's why the release was so quiet.
If you have nothing better to do with your time and don't mind wasting hard drive space that could be filled with much more valuable things such as pictures of Red Pandas, go ahead and download Kill Strain. You may enjoy it, but I would guess that you're in the minority. Within a month this game will practically cease to exist I predict, so I'll make sure to check back in on it then to see how the population is doing.