“The 2010s were a fascinating time for artistic expression in video games. Bolstered by the ambitious, if critically awkward, successes of the late 2000s, indie games entered their creative stride, able to combine smooth mechanical fluidity, gorgeous pixel art, bombastic musical scores, and introspective writing that payed homage to classics of the past. Katana ZERO embodies almost all of the above; fast-paced methodical gameplay, colorful pixel art of dystopian cyberpunk worlds, synth tunes that wouldn’t be out of place in a gothic rave, and a story that pays homage to neo-noir and samurai films of the past. It’s exploration of PTSD and the effects of war on the psyche—coupled with drug abuse and allusions to the Vietnam War—also help to give gravitas to this rapid-fire experience, which can be fleshed out even more with a dialogue system that helps to elevate the characters or skip the story entirely if the player so chooses. However, the “almost” of my previous sentences shows it’s ugly head—the crescendo of revelations to the story come to a grinding halt with an ending that leaves the narrative, and the player, lacking for resolution, along with select characters and side threads that fail to be elaborated on. No doubt it was intentional on the creator’s end, betting on the prospect of strong sales and ensuing sequel. It’s a bet that has turned out dividends but leaves the standalone experience wanting. Still, considering the game’s other strong suits, I would recommend this to anyone willing to play and pray that the sequel comes soon.