Kun Lan: Harman, the size of the world has changed. It's changed to the size where you can control it with your hands just like a PDA. The world will... keep getting smaller...
Killer7 is a 2005 Action-Adventure game for the Nintendo GameCube and PlayStation 2, developed by Grasshopper Manufacture, and written and directed by Suda51 (with Resident Evil alum Shinji Mikami co-writing), that combines unusual gameplay mechanics and conspiratorial themes in a techno-thriller setting. In an alternate timeline 20 Minutes into the Future, worldwide peace has finally been achieved after a total ban on nuclear weapons and research.note The remaining warheads are fired into space, where they collide and destroy each other.
However, this peace was not to last, for a group known as "Heaven Smile" soon appeared. Led by the enigmatic Kun Lan, this group of ambiguously human terrorists began to carry out a number of suicide bombings across the world, with no discernible purpose other than to create terror for the sake of terror.
To combat this supernatural threat, the American government calls on the services of the Smith Syndicate, a.k.a. the Killer7. Led by the elderly and wheelchair-bound Harman Smith, a man who carries a history with Kun Lan, the Killer7 are a group of specialized assassins trained to deal with high-level threats to the stability of the United States of America. And with each mission completed, they slowly draw closer to the truth behind the Heaven Smiles and Kun Lan.
While this plot summary appears clear and concise, it only scratches the surface of the story of Killer7. As the Smiths keep getting called in to deal with each new threat from Kun Lan, a deep conspiracy with ties to the origins of both Killer7 and the Heaven Smiles comes to light, and dozens of twists and turns follow.
With that, we depart from the realm of sensibility. Killer7 can become an exceedingly confusing game, thanks to its multiple layers of metaphor and symbolism, its vignettes and non sequiturs, and its tacked-on plot threads that don't come together until the ending—and even then, you're likely to have more questions than answers. Themes of war, religion, personal conflict, and politics all weave into one gigantic Mind Screw, wrapping around each other like the bondage straps around Iwazaru.
In contrast to the Mind Screw storyline, the developers uniquely streamlined the gameplay of Killer7: a character moves along a set of predetermined paths, so all a player can do is choose forks and turn around. When attacked, players hold down a button to switch into first-person view and aim crosshairs manually (similar to Resident Evil 4). The Heaven Smiles remain invisible until players use another button to scan for them; as they approach, players can see an obvious glowing spot upon them, and while shooting this spot results in their instant death, players will find it difficult to do so. Any enemy who gets in too close to the player will laugh at the player before exploding and causing damage. Death Is a Slap on the Wrist most of the time — as Garcian can retrieve the severed heads of the other Smiths and revive them — but if Garcian himself dies, the game ends. The Killer7 themselves are as follows:
- Garcian Smith: The Cleaner. Uses a silenced pistol called ELECTROLITE. His special ability, as mentioned above, is to retrieve the dead corpses of his allies and revive them. A reserved Consummate Professional and The Stoic. In gameplay, he's the weakest out of all of the Personae (which makes sense given that he's a "cleaner" rather than an assassin).
- Dan Smith: The Hellion. Uses a magnum revolver known as HANDSOME DEVIL. His special ability is Collateral Shot, which fires a powerful destructive blast to clear obstacles and destroy Heaven Smile spawners. He's a slightly unhinged Jerkass with a Deadpan Snarker attitude. Notably the only member of the syndicate to have nothing but negative relations with the other Personae. In gameplay, he's Boring, but Practical, having high stopping power and reliable aim in exchange for little in the way of interesting tactics or unique gimmicks.
- KAEDE Smith: Barefoot. Uses a scoped magnum pistol called CONNECTION. Her special ability is breaking invisible barriers, and she excels at sniping from long distances. The only female member of the group, and is usually quiet and reserved. In gameplay, she's the only long-distance fighter, and has difficulties fighting at close ranges.
- Coyote Smith: The Thief. Uses a custom revolver called FREAK SCENE. His special ability is infiltration, with him being able to leap tall heights and pick locks. Coyote is aggressive and vicious, and this is reflected in gameplay, with him being about as strong as Dan but lacking in self control, giving his weapon heavier, more random recoil and a slower rate of fire. He has a faster running speed, however, meaning he can back out of a sticky situation easier than Dan.
- Kevin Smith: Four-eyes. Uses a set of throwing knives and a larger knife for stabbing known as DEBASER. Cannot speak. Kevin can turn invisible at will, allowing him to evade enemies. Kevin is incredibly fast in gameplay, and his subtle knives are quite fast- while he is bad in a close quarters fight, his lack of a gun means he never needs to reload or adjust his aim between throws, and can be quite dangerous if you're skilled.
- Con Smith: A blind punk with an attitude problem. Armed with two automatic pistols called DISARM. Con can run exceedingly fast for a price of thin blood, and his rapid agility combined with his automatic pistols and quick reload times make him quite dangerous in close combat. His style isn't suited for subtlety though, and as a result he is extremely bad in fights at range.
- MASK de Smith: The Mask. Armed with dual grenade launchers known as DREAM ALL DAY. A Mexican wrestler, MASK can use his super strength and powerful weapons to open holes in places the other Smiths cannot get through. He can also charge his grenade launchers for powerful effect, and is quite slow. He's a Mighty Glacier through and through, with his high power coming at the cost that he doesn't gain thick blood from kills except against enemies that only he can damage, though he's a soft-spoken Nice Guy if you can get to know him.
- Harman Smith: The Master, or God Killer. An enigmatic wheelchair bound man who uses a powerful anti-tank rifle known as GLIDER. Only comes out in set circumstances where his powers are needed. Much about him is unknown.
While players can practically count the polygons in the characters' faces, the game makes excellent use of shading and shadows to create a unique graphical style. Two levels also feature anime cutscenes, both done by different studios.
The game was developed by Grasshopper Manufacture, and published by Capcom. See also earlier Suda games The Silver Case and Flower, Sun and Rain, games in the "Kill the Past" universe that contain thematic links, as well as Killer is Dead for a later Grasshopper game with a similar visual style and premise.
On May 26 2018, Suda and Grasshopper Manufacture announced an HD port of the game to PC, with NIS America in charge of publication. This version released via Steam in November.
In the name of Harman...
- Aborted Arc: Several plotlines don't get fully resolved (or at least aren't properly shown being so), but the most notable case has to be the nature and whereabouts of the Yakumo document, which is a driving plot device in Sunset and Cloudman, but gets mostly dropped out from Encounter onwards.
- Abstract Apotheosis: Each member of the Killer7 represents an inversion of one of the traditional Japanese values. Each one also has a moment where the irony disappears and they display their corresponding value.
- KAEDE has various bloodstains on her dress, which signify betrayal (like the Camellia Smiles), so she represents Loyalty. She is also able to sacrifice herself for her teammates (such as with her self-harm used to break down barriers blocking the Syndicate's progress).
- Dan, a Blood Knight who kills for fun, represents Honor. Rather than killing Curtis Blackburn straight away, he agrees to a duel with him.
- Con, a teenage punk, represents Respect. He is shown to have an admiration for the Handsome Men, and according to the manual and "Hand in Killer7", he really looks up to Coyote and MASK.
- MASK, who has the power of a hero but still works as an assassin, represents Benevolence. Jean DePaul refers to MASK as a hero to children.
- Coyote, who is a thief, represents Honesty. In Cloudman, Coyote suddenly reveals some of his past on the TV without any prompting.
- Kevin, who can run away and hide from battles, represents Courage. In the past, he was the one who manned the front desk of the Union Hotel, making him the first line of defense against threats.
- Garcian, who hangs back and lets others take the leading role, represents Self-Control. At the end of the game, after the other Smiths are killed, he assumes complete control of himself.
- Young Harman, who is brutal, represents Justice. He kills Kun Lan and the older Harman for the way they treated the rest of the cast.
- Absurdly High-Stakes Game: There is a climactic game of Russian Roulette between Garcian Smith and Benjamin Keane. If Garcian wins, Keane will tell him the secret to hitting on any woman with 100% success. If Keane wins, Garcian must kill the President. The stakes end up being pretty meaningless anyway.
- Action Bomb: Almost every single one of the Heaven Smiles does this, to the point that they have no other means of self-defense than blowing themselves up when they get close enough to the player. The only ones who don't have this as a primary means of attack are the Laser Smiles, Galactic Tomahawk Smile, and some of the bosses, though the latter two will explode if you get too close.
- Aerith and Bob: On the same team, there's KAEDE, Garcian, MASK de, and... Kevin.
- Afro Asskicker: Andrei Ulmeyda, a Badass Normal among the villains, wears an afro. It's so notable that it becomes his only weak point when he turns into a Heaven Smile, and he ends up being one of the most dangerous ones encountered: he kills off everyone in the immediate area except for the Killer 7 just by showering them in his acidic blood, and if he catches you in the ensuing boss fight it's a One-Hit Kill.
- Alas, Poor Villain: Pedro Montana is a total bastard who sells orphans so that their organs can be used for Heaven's Smiles. But when we actually see him, he's playing handball when his partner, Curtis Blackburn (whom Pedro recently betrayed and ran out on), arrives. Pedro is terrified when he sees Curtis, and soon we discover he had a damn good reason to be - Curtis doesn't forgive. In this case, Curtis's idea of proper retribution is slaughtering Pedro's entire family... and then taunting him with stories of how they died. It's one of the hardest scenes in the game to watch, and makes it very clear that, out of all the villains in the game, Curtis Blackburn is the worst.
- Alien Geometries: The game uses this for horror near the end of the game. It's already clear from your earlier visits that Harman's trailer house doesn't exactly fit its exterior boundaries. But in the last level, you find that it has a basement as well.
- all lowercase letters: killer7 is usually written like this in the Japanese version. The English version, on both Gamecube and PC, generally capitalize the "K".
- All-or-Nothing Reloads: The game plays with this. All of the Smiths' reload animations are extremely fast and stylistic to cut down on the amount of time you have to spend defenseless, with the exception of KAEDE, who has the only realistic reload of the group and thus takes the longest, possibly to balance out the fact that she's the designated sniper of the group. It takes even longer if you're reloading while in aiming mode, as KAEDE fumbles with the new magazine as she sticks it in. When the killer7 have their Mirror Match showdown against the Handsome Men, KAEDE is defeated when her opponent reloads a little bit faster and shoots her as she's still reloading.
- All There in the Manual:
- It's recommended to read the actual manual, as it will tell you about gameplay features that the game itself either mostly doesn't or puts in Iwazaru's Tips, which most players aren't going to go out of their way to sit through.
- Hand In killer7, which actually makes the story even more complicated; for an informational book, it ends up being a Jigsaw Puzzle Plot of its own, relying on you to cross-reference different sections of the book (and the game) to put together what it's trying to tell you. Some of the information in the book completely contradicts the game, and the book is not even completely consistent with itself. There's also an early prototype version of the Encounter chapter, with game graphics and screenshots arranged in comic format, one of the few pieces of early-version content present in the book.
- All Your Powers Combined: The Handsome Men (AKA "The Punishing Rangers") are a subversion of this. Their names range from the obvious "Handsome Red" and "Handsome Blue" to secondary colors like "Handsome Brown" and even one "Handsome Dead".
- Alternate History:
- The story follows a timeline quite a bit different from ours. This seems to stretch a ways back to the 1700s, if we take at face value the claim that the first president of the United States was the headmaster of a school in Seattle, Washington state.
- While how far back America's history diverged is unknown, Japan's history's divergence can be traced to somebody (likely Kun Lan) calling Toru Fukushima after World War II, as the Liberal Party that Fukushima was asked to split off from really did exist.
- It's also an alternate history to The Silver Case and Flower, Sun and Rain, as Killer7 goes out of its way to mention that the Internet (necessary to the plot of The Silver Case) and airplanes (necessary to the plot of Flower, Sun, and Rain) were banned in 1998, one year before The Silver Case takes place.
- Ambiguously Gay: Travis Bell, Harman's first hit. He appears to the Killer7 in a variety of suggestive poses with flamboyant, sometimes innuendo-laden tank tops, usually in hot pink print ('Bad Girl', 'Sexual'). In a library area in the first level, he describes himself as 'the Chief's first catch', then describes his death like it were an orgasm: 'To be honest, that shit felt good'.
- Amnesiac Dissonance: Garcian Smith, aka Emir Parkreiner, as revealed in Target 05: Smile.
- Amusement Park of Doom: The ISZK-LAND amusement park in the state of Washington makes up for the first half of the fourth chapter (Encounter). As with many other areas in the world, it is filled with murderous Heaven Smiles, and many of the park's attractions present creepy elements like illusory rooms and looping passageways. By far the most disturbing secret about this place is that Curtis Blackburn is using it to gather orphans for his organ traffic businesses.
- Annoying Laugh: Your enemies are the dreaded Heaven Smiles who blow up on contact and laugh constantly. Each different Smile has a different laugh, a good number of which (especially that of the Bombhead Smiles) are extremely annoying.
- You can only process a certain amount of Thick Blood per level, though that amount is usually high enough that you can make use of some grinding.
- Smile, Part 2 allows a lot blood than any other level in the game - the exact amount to max all six personae out if you've hit the cap in every other level, in fact. The catch is that the only infinitely respawning Smiles who give out large amounts of blood are Broken Smiles, who are notoriously the hardest enemies in the game to get thick blood from. If you find yourself unable to hit their weak points, you have to go through everything else in Smile to respawn all the other enemies, including unlocking and defeating the Final Boss, doing the return visit to the Union Hotel, sitting through the unskippable credits, and going through all of Smile, Part 1 again.
- Apocalyptic Log: The second level of the chapter Smile is dotted with old style tape-recordings containing the details of a detective called Holbert and his investigation of the murderer and assassin Emir Parkreiner. The tapes become increasingly disturbing, as the facts presented seem bizarre and contradictory (much to the exasperation of the detective). The final tape ends with him mentioning in shock that Emir is standing right in front of him, with his final words cut off by a gunshot.
- Arc Number: Seven, in many different ways. Not only are there seven assassins in the Smith syndicate, but also seven major targets to pursue and kill, seven rings to recover and use ( along with the Vision Ring that Garcian possesses), the game's story is divided into seven chapters, seven save files available in Slot A and Slot B, etc. There are also seven visits to the Vinculum Gate, as well as the Union 7 group in the backstory.
- Arc Words:
- Most of the Remnant Psyches have their own recurring words and Catchphrases, to further differentiate each character: Travis has "chief" and "straight up", the True Mask has "tomorrow, it could be you", Iwazaru has "Master" and "in the name of Harman", and so on.
- The game has the phrases "Don't gain the world and lose your soul", "Let's dance", "In the name of Harman..." and "666" scrawled in various places.
- "How Soon is Now" is the name of a song. While it's been covered many times, the original version was by The Smiths. (As it happens, all the courier memos are also named after songs by the Smiths.) While the other two may qualify as Arc Words, this one's probably more of a Shout-Out.
- There's also the advent of the disappearance of smiles that runs throughout the game, before and after missions (with cheerful phrases such as "The day he stops smiling is the day we remember his smile".)
- Armor-Piercing Question: Garcian attempts this at one point. Matsuken has been attempting to control the United States using Japanese ideals for the whole game, so Garcian challenges him: "what is United States? What is the purpose of the President?" Matsuken simply counters with "I'm Japanese, how the hell should I know? Figure it out for yourself." Not only does this tie into the recurring theme of two nations misunderstanding each other, Garcian's lack of an answer turns out to be significant: he's actually the assassin Emir Parkreiner, reincarnated, and Emir was an assassin for the Japanese government whose death coincided with the fall of Japan.
- Artistic License – History: Part of the backstory involves an elementary school that has decided who the president of the United States would be since George Washington, located in Seattle, Washington. At the time of Washington's presidency, Seattle didn't exist, only populated by the tribes already living in the area. Seattle wouldn't be founded until 1851, sixty-two years after Washington's election. Even with the extremely bizarre nature of the game, there is no reason to make such a mistake.
- Art Shift: The animated cutscenes in Cloudman and Alter Ego are different from the game's art style and from each other. Alter Ego is straight-up anime, while Cloudman is done by a Western animation studio. Earlier, Sunset also has a single extended cutscene by the same studio as Alter Ego's.
- Asshole Victim: Pedro Montana was, along with Curtis Blackburn, one of the heads of the organ smuggling operation in Encounter and the backstory before betraying Curtis, which leads to Curtis getting his revenge. Interestingly, Pedro's death isn't about bringing justice, but showing that Curtis is far, far worse than Pedro could have imagined.
- Attack Its Weak Point:
- The majority of the Heaven's Smiles have a glowing yellow spot somewhere on their body. Shooting this kills them instantly and grants you far more blood (used to heal and for power-ups) than gunning them down the standard way. Heaven's Smiles without the yellow spot have similar vulnerabilities — the enlarged part of a Phantom Smile, the eye of a Giant Smile, the shirt on an Ulmeyda Smile, the cockpit on the part of it's body that looks like a jet that it uses to fly around...
- Most comical is the Ceramic smile boss, a big hulking monster of a smile that runs fairly quickly. Just shoot his heart through the convenient hole in his chest once. At least he has the sense to turn tail and run when you have your gun pointed at him.
- Awesome, but Impractical: MASK de Smith is the strongest character in the game, and his grenade launchers can one-hit kill almost any enemy (except for certain bosses), and he gets mask upgrades across the game that boost his power further and speed up his reloads, eventually to the point he doesn't need to reload. Unfortunately, his use of explosives means he can't hit weak points, so unless it's an enemy that none of the other Smiths can damage, like the Protector Smiles, his kills grant you little to no blood.
- Badass Family / Badass Crew: The Smiths are an all-in-one-man version of this.
- Badass in a Nice Suit: Dan and Garcian both wear tasteful, classy suits when out killing. MASK also starts off with a white suit, but loses it as he changes into various wrestler costumes later as he gets upgrades.
- Badass Normal: Andrei Ulmeyda is able to hold off on becoming a Heaven Smile for a surprisingly long time, and when he does it's far from a mundane transformation.
- Bad Moon Rising: Done in a rather odd fashion - the Moon shown at the start of every chapter starts out appearing in odd colors, including red. In Smile and Lion, the Moon here starts appearing completely normal.
- Beat Them at Their Own Game: That's why they call Emir the Ace of Aces:
- Kevin, the master of disguise, was identified instantly and gunned down.
- Con, the blind gunman, was taken by surprise in his own room.
- Kaede, who finds hidden paths, could not hide from Emir.
- Coyote, who can get to hard to reach places, is out-flanked.
- MASK, the superhero, was struck down when he was unmasked and most vulnerable - in the shower.
- Dan, hard boiled Badass, can't beat Emir in a one-on-one stand off (doesn't help that Emir's immortal).
- BFG: Harman's anti-tank rifle, GLIDER.
- Big "NO!": Pedro has one of the the most horrifying examples, ever, courtesy of one Curtis Blackburn.
- Bilingual Bonus: Many in the original Japanese. For example, the Coliseum is romanized as "コロシアム" (koroshiamu); the first three letters are phonetically the word "killing" (殺し koroshi), which neatly sums up what the player must do when they reach this location.
- Black-and-Grey Morality: The Killer7 is a team of sociopaths, their master may or may not be perpetuating combat and war as much as his enemy, and even he's regularly being raped or otherwise physically abused by the maid. On the other hand, their targets include a pedophile working in the organ trade and a comic author who, knowing that the stories he writes play out in reality, continues writing stories wherein many people die - there are very few outright good characters.
- Bling-Bling-BANG!: The final weapon in the game is the Golden Gun, an actual pistol made of gold which is instant death to Heaven's Smiles. Curtis Blackburn's twin gold-inlaid pistols are quite nice, as well.
- Bloody Murder: KAEDE Smith has the special move "Blood Shower" during which she cuts her own wrists spraying blood everywhere and unveiling any hidden passages.
- Book Ends:
- Lion ends almost exactly the same as Angel, with Harman shooting Kun Lan onto a tower; Suda has identified this as representing the futile nature of war.
- A minor one in Cloudman. "The name's Andrei Ulmeyda." Crowning Moment of Funny the first time, Tear Jerker the second time.
- Boring, but Practical:
- Kevin Smith's knives aren't the most exciting weapons to use, but using them draws more blood from your enemies. And they don't need to be reloaded, and their aiming doesn't waver.
- Dan Smith is another example. He has decent power and accuracy with his revolver and a relatively quick reload, moreso with his Collateral Shot letting him be one of only two Smiths who can destroy red cores on a Duplicator Smile (and being able to do it much sooner and for much less Thin Blood than MASK) and upgrades to his inherent abilities to let him reload faster and finding a double-barreled revolver to hit harder. This makes him one of the best and most well-balanced at overall combat, in return for not being good for much else - he doesn't get any special abilities for puzzles like Coyote's high jumps or KAEDE's ability to break barriers, and he doesn't get any really flashy and powerful combat abilities either like MASK's Macross Missile Massacre or Con's ability to lock onto an enemy's weak point.
- Boss Battle: Played with heavily. While the game has its fair share of traditional bosses, there's also bosses like Julia or Curtis which play by their own rules. Once you enter Alter Ego, relatively few boss fights are even fought by the player, if they're fought at all, and when they are, they tend to have foregone conclusions.
- Boss Corridor: Some levels feature a boss corridor before introducing new Heaven Smile types as mini-bosses, which the Smiths have to pay to enter using Soul Shells. If a Smith dies, their body will be left outside the entrance to the corridor for Garcian to pick up.
- Boss Remix: The first phase of the fight against Greg Nightmare is a somber remix of the Elementary School stage (the setting of the second half of the sixth chapter, Smile).
- Boss Subtitles: When someone important shows up in the game, they get one of these. Even if they're scheduled to die in a few moments (take a bow, Toru Fukashima and Trevor Pearlharbor). This also happens when a new version of a Heaven's Smile appears for the first time.
- Bottomless Magazines: Even though every character has to reload (except for Kevin, who uses knives), they never run out of extra bullets or magazines. Dan and MASK in particular get upgrades about halfway through the game that let them reload faster, by speeding up the part of the animation where they dump spent rounds — and then completely skipping the part where they load in new ones before closing up and getting back to shooting. MASK's penultimate upgrade later gives him full-on infinite ammo.
- Breather Episode: The animated cutscenes, the beautiful scenery, and pleasant music of Alter Ego make it a lovely little interlude set between the horrors of Encounter and SMILE.
- Button Mashing: How you revive dead Smiths. The more stamina the higher the bar you have to fill (try not to die as Harman).
- Call-Back: This scene from "Alter Ego" is notorious for not making sense, even in the game's context... unless you've played Moonlight Syndrome, a previous Suda game which has never been officially released outside of Japan.
- Calling Your Attacks:
- HANDSOME WINK!
- Dan calls his "Collateral Shot" Charged Attack every time he uses it.
- Camera Screw: The camera mostly displays from the ground, giving you the best view of your chosen assassin's legs with the only camera control being a choice between looking in front of you or behind you. Otherwise, the camera will be switching back and forth between different angles unpredictably, from aerial shots to side views, to a fixed point in the corner or at far side of the room, to viewing the front of you so you must walk towards the camera, to making you walk away from the camera. Sometimes, the camera doesn't bother focusing on you at all and instead chooses to look at a poster of a bikini-clad girl — and when it decides to ogle the poster of the bikini girl, that's actually a clue to one of the game's puzzles. This is just that sort of game. And yet it's not as much of a problem as you may think, because when you pull your gun (the only time camera position matters in this game), it goes right into first-person view, no matter what it's doing otherwise.
- Carnival of Killers: The Smith Syndicate is a rare protagonist example, but one fitting enough that it adorns the page image.
- Casual Danger Dialog: Benjamin Keane challenges Garcian to game of Russian Roulette. Benjamin attempts this trope with increasingly longer and intense rants between rounds. Meanwhile, Garcian just picks up the gun, puts it to his head, pulls the trigger, then passes it back each time. Benjamin probably thought he sounded cool, but his tone and hesitant straining on the trigger pulls suggests he scared and/or crazy. Of course, running a school with invisible, giggling, exploding zombies roaming the halls will probably do that to you.
- Chasing Your Tail: The Ceramic Smile will run around the room, attempting to catch you from behind and kill you by detonating. If you turn around, it lets out a cry of panic and runs in the other direction. Its weak spot, its heart, can only be hit from the front; the trick is to shoot it while it's screaming.
- Catchphrase: Everyone has a special one for when you hit an enemy in its One-Hit Kill spot, when you deliver a counter attack and when you kill a nearby enemy when he's crawling towards you.
- Cel Shading: The game uses a style that focus on shadows and silhouettes, providing the vibe of a noir movie.
- Central Theme: The absurd and destructive nature of the tensions between the U.S. and Japan, and how both Western and Eastern cultures have affected each other, for better or worse.
- Chekhov's Gun: The screaming in Garcian's Trailerhouse. Turns out there's a Smile living under it.
- Chekhov's Gunman: While running through the early stages your character is constantly being contacted by a man named Johnny Gagnon, his messages arriving by carrier pigeon. This wouldn't be too unusual if he didn't address every letter to someone named Emir and wasn't writing about the Smith syndicate you play as. Later, you learn about a man named Emir Parkreiner, who is the most important character in the game and the murderer of the Killer7 in their past lives. It would make sense that Emir hired Gagnon to get information on the seven assassins so as to have some intel on his targets.
- The Chessmaster:
- Kun Lan and Harman, since many events in the game were set in motion by them. Also literally.
- According to Hand in Killer7, somebody named Jaco Checkbox orchestrated a lot of the protagonists' actions through Samantha. Despite this, he also claims that unknown individuals had already decided the whole plot through a secret conspiratorial meeting long ago that "maligned history".
- Chess Motifs: It's been proposed that all of Harman's personalities correspond to different chess pieces. Kun Lan and Harman are definitely playing a literal chess game, and possibly a figurative one as well.
- Children Are Innocent: Surprisingly touched upon at one point. When assassin Jean DePaul brings up MASK de Smith's popularity with children, MASK responds by declaring that children's purity makes them the most objective judges in the world. Turns out they're right.
- China Takes Over the World: The ending implies that by the 22nd century, China has succeeded the USA as the world's dominant superpower.
- Cluster Bleep-Bomb: At one point in in the game, Suzie goes off on a tangent about what she did to some men who made fun of her name, and parts of it get censored out. This is funny for three separate reasons: in the English version, Suzie (like all ghosts) is The Unintelligible; in the Japanese version, her speech is so full of Gratuitous English that it makes no sense anyway; and the game doesn't censor profanity anywhere else!
- Color-Coded Characters: The Handsome Men, being a sentai team, naturally follow this, though the fact that there's so many of them leads to a few odd color choices like light brown and "dead" (red and yellow).
- Concealment Equals Cover: Averted during a backstory cutscene, when Kaede hides in a dresser to escape Emir Parkreiner. It does her no good.
- Continuing is Painful: The game somehow straddles the border between Death Is a Slap on the Wrist and this: When one of the Smiths is killed, you start over at the nearest Harman's Room, with no penalty apart from not being able to use the same Smith again — unless you pick Garcian, the 'cleaner', and trek back to where you died to pick up their body. This is particularly irritating, because Garcian is armed with a dinky pistol that can't be upgraded at all, and if he goes down, the game is over for good. Thankfully, playing as Garcian makes fewer enemies appear, but it's still easy to make a level unwinnable in killer8 mode if a character dies behind an enemy that only that character can kill with ease.
- Continuity Snarl:
- Seemingly invoked by Hand in Killer7, a setting book which contradicts itself all over the place to represent how history can get muddled and rewritten over time. This is eventually lampshaded by Jaco, who mentions that nobody really knows what happened in the Smith Syndicate Incident, one of the most confusing points in the timeline.
- That Smith Syndicate Incident deserves special mention, because at least three separate versions of it exist between the game and the book, sometimes at wildly different points in time, and it's not possible to reconcile them no matter what you do. That would be fine if it was an isolated event, but it's the focal point of the game's backstory, so it's impossible to ignore.
- Cool Mask: Mask de Smith is a luchador who has the most powerful weapon (dual grenade launchers) and largest health bar of any playable character in the game. He's physically strong enough to lift a semi-trailer truck. Near the end of the game, he receives an upgrade in the form of a new mask and costume that lets him fire infinite grenades without ever having to reload. Also, his ultimate upgrade not only makes him almost invincible, but almost as terrifying as the monsters he's slaughtering with grenades.
- Cosmic Chess Game: Played by Harman and Kun Lan. They even have pieces to play with (Harman has the Smiths and Kun Lan has the targets the Smiths are looking for).
- Cosplay Otaku Girl: Ayame Blackburn wears cosplay and an animegao mask because Curtis finds it…appealing.
- Counting Bullets: The game plays with this trope with an example that counts the empty chambers rather than the bullets during Garcian's game of Russian Roulette with Benjamin Keane. After five rounds, it seems like the sixth chamber will inevitably contain the bullet. But then Garcian puts the gun to his head, pulls the trigger, and it clicks, because the kind of gun they were using actually held seven bullets.
- Coup de Grâce: Each member of the Killer 7 has their own method for dispatching Heaven's Smiles that have lost their legs. They range from Dan kicking the target onto its back and double-tapping, to Coyote curb-stomping it, to Garcian bashing its head in with his briefcase.
- Creator Provincialism: A large majority of the gameplay takes place within the United States, but the overarching plot involves an international conspiracy largely involving relations between the United States and Japan, and over the course of the story, Japan is largely (or, depending on how you act, entirely) destroyed by a large-scale missile barrage.
- Creepy Child: Kess, Susie and Ayame. Susie especially—not only because she's only a head, but because holy crap she's murdered a lot of people! Often for little reason, at that. Love as well, according to Hand in Killer7 which describes her as an "extreme sociopath", although she acts fairly normal in-game.
- Cutting the Knot: The Freaky Fun House has a game called Squeaker's Attack, in which you have to shoot all the rats that pop out of the holes in a giant spinning wheel of cheese. You could take the time to shoot each rat individually while Heaven Smiles keep spawning and attacking... or just switch to Mask and use his dual grenade launchers to blow the cheese wheel to bits.
- Cyberpunk for Flavor: The game gets into this in the target Alter Ego. Although it starts off being about a comic book author, by the end it's about underground gamers playing on the illegal private internet. One might surmise from this that killer7 in general might take place in a cyberpunk world even though the work itself only sometimes brushes with the genre.
- Damn You, Muscle Memory!: Play Resident Evil 4 a lot using the sniper rifle. Notice how you zoom in using the C-stick and use the Y button to open up your inventory. Now play this game and use the Sniper Pistol. The Y button is used to zoom in a pre-set distance, but that's no problem. Unfortunately the C-stick is used to reload, which is a fairly lengthy process. Not fun when you're in a tough fight, less so when you're zoomed in, as said sniper pistol takes even longer to reload when you're aiming.
- Dark Messiah:
- Andrei Ulmeyda. He's using a fragment of a powerful document, and turns out to not be that bad a guy — infecting himself with all the diseases in the world to become a living vaccine. However, he doesn't succeed against the Heaven's Smile virus, and that's when you're called in...
- The two gods, Kun-Lan and Harman, their agents on earth, Emir Parkreiner and Harman Smith, are all dark messiahs. The gods don't generally care what their agents do as long as they achieve their ends, resorting to murder and enslavement. The real problem is that they work for the East and the West, respectively, and are constantly at war with each other. So whoever wins, someone else loses. This is shown in the ending of the game, which lets you decide, ultimately, if the West will be destroyed, or the East.
- Dashing Hispanic: Mexican assassin Mask de Smith, a soft-spoken man who dual-wields grenade launchers, suplexes pillars, and in one cutscene headbutts a bullet out of the air.
- Daylight Horror: At least half of the missions take place in sunny locations, like Texas, the Dominican Republic, and a well-lit Amusement Park (of Doom). But since this is a Surreal Horror we're talking about, the bright light emphasizes the bizarre, cel-shaded, technicolor palette, making the world around you only look that much more alien and hostile. In fact, one of the most horrific scenes in the game (Ulmeyda turning into a Heaven Smile and the ensuing boss fight) takes place in the Texas desert in broad daylight.
- "Day of the Week" Name: The game has a creepy, wide-eyed Remnant Psyche child who shows up just before the special Heaven Smile fight in each level named Kess Bloodysunday.
- Dead All Along: During the climax of the penultimate chapter, it is revealed that everybody in the Smith Syndicate died long ago. In fact, according to the supplementary material Dan, Con, Mask, Kaede, Coyote, and Kevin have each died THREE TIMES and Garcian has died at least once, possibly twice depending on who wins the Third World War and if you consider Loss of Identity to be an actual death.
- Dead Man's Chest: The dead body of Harman Smith is shown hidden in a safe in a Seattle elementary school, where Emir Parkreiner stuffed it after killing him.
- Developer's Foresight: If you somehow manage to go to the final floor of Union Hotel at the end of Smile's second half as any other persona than Garcian (most definitely through hack or glitch), there is a camera at the entrance to force you to transform back to Garcian.
- Dark Messiah: Ulmeyda. But he's actually not that bad a guy.
- Daylight Horror: Several of the stages take place in the middle of the day. And the bright lighting emphasizes the bizarre, cel-shaded, technicolor palette, making the world around you only look that much more alien and hostile.
- Dead All Along: Before they were alternate personalities, the members of the Smith Syndicate were individual people who ended up being killed and then resurrected through assimilation. This even applies to Harman and Garcian/Emir.
- Deader than Dead: The Black Smiles are capable of rendering the Smiths impossible to resurrect.
- Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: Dying as Dan, Kaede, Kevin, Coyote, Con or Mask simply transports you back to the last Harman's Room you visited. You can then switch to Garcian and make your way back to the place where the persona got killed, retrieve their head, get transported back to Harman's Room and resurrect it by repeatedly pressing A. You even get to keep all the blood you've collected. However, this means playing through the same stretch of level at least three times: 1) the original run before dying, 2) as Garcian up to the spot where you died, 3) a third run with the restored persona. Considering that the enemies respawn constantly, and Garcian is the weaker member of Killer7, dying isn't the walk in the park it's supposed to be. And if Garcian himself dies, it's a definitive Game Over.
- Decapitation Presentation:
- Curtis Blackburn throwshis former partner Pedro his daughter's severed head. This is merely the last of the many horrors Curtis inflicts on him.
- Die in the game, and your character's head in a bag is found at the scene of the crime. You must go back as persona Garcian Smith to fetch your dead Smith's noggin and bring them back to life.
- Decoy Protagonist: The Smiths aren't Harman's split personalities. They're Garcian's.
- Degraded Boss: Many minibosses become this, since the miniboss battles are meant to introduce a new type of Heaven Smile for the next chapter (Mook Debut Cutscene included). The trope is averted for the first miniboss (Speed Smile) and the last two (Timer and Galactic Tomahawk), as they never show up again, and for the latter two it's justified due to their late appeareance in the game.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: Essentially the entire point of the game: the whole game revolves around the conflict between American/Western and Japanese/Eastern values.Garcian: What is 'United States'? What is the purpose of the President?
Matsuoka: I'm Japanese, how the hell should I know?
- Disability Superpower:
- Harman Smith, leader of Smith Syndicate, is an old man in a wheelchair who wields a high-powered rifle and may be some kind of god...
- Con, a blind teenage boy who can still fire Guns Akimbo and has great perception.
- Disconnected by Death: This happens to some poor sap in the game's backstory-establishing cutscene, courtesy of Harman Smith.
- Disproportionate Retribution:
- Sure, what Pedro did was terrible, but Curtis's response (raping and killing Pedro's wife, murdering his son, and tossing his daughter's severed head to Pedro while going into detail about what he did to them) is overkill for anyone.
- When the United States realizes that Japan has been manipulating their presidencies and elections through the Department of Education, their response is to wipe Japan off the face of the earth.
- Distant Finale: Chapter 6 ("Smile") is the proper final stage in the game, in which Garcian Smith discovers that his true identity is Emir Parkreiner and that the other six Smiths are actually people that he killed years ago in the Union Hotel, and he's the only one that really exists as a separate person. Chapter 7 ("Lion") is the epilogue, being set five years later and has Garcian, having reverted back to his Emir identity after the other Smiths were eradicated during "Smile", fulfilling a final mission on Battleship Island, eliminating the last few Heaven Smiles and either killing or sparing eminent Japanese politician Kenjiro Matsuoka. The very final scene is set one hundred years after that, showing Harman and Kun Lan meeting again in Shanghai to begin the next cycle of their eternal game against each other.
- Does Not Like Shoes: Kaede Smith never uses shoes or boots when you're playing as her. This is the reason why her nickname as part of the Killer 7 is "Barefoot", and Iwazaru always refers to her this way.
- Door to Before: Through the form of padlocks, which have to be unlocked on the other side.
- Double Entendre: In Japanese, the Soul Shells are referred to as 魂弾 (tamatama, "soul bullet"), which has a similar pronunciation to the (childish) Japanese word for "testicles".
- Downer Ending: No matter which option the player takes in the game's Sadistic Choice between America or Japan, an entire people gets wiped out, and it is implied that the entire process will begin again in another century. The only main character who receives a somewhat optimistic conclusion is Emir, since he manages to free himself from Harman and Kun Lan's machinations and psyches and be an individual again.
- Drone of Dread: The music that plays over the shots of the moon at the start of each chapter.
- Dual Boss: Kurahashi and Akiba, turned into Heaven Smiles, serve as the dual boss of the second chapter (Sunset). They will send hovering brains to your character, though they can be shot. Defeating the duo requires a cryptic series of steps to hurt their real brains, and only Kaede can defeat them thanks to her scope weapon.
- Duel Boss:
- Curtis insists upon a fair duel with Dan.
- Happens again with the Killer7 taking on the Handsome Men, one by one.
- Julia's boss fight simply consists of you two pointing your weapons at each other and firing as fast as possible.
- Eagleland: The game contains examples of both types. Put simply, there are three different views. Firstly, we have pro-America; most of the playable characters are part American, and they are presented as less insane than Japan (a view that many Westerners hold) and, as Cloudman proves, less fanatical about the Yakumo. On the other hand, they're dicks who forced democracy onto Japan and then didn't even notice that Japan turned the tables and rigged all of America's elections. Matsuken offers a different view; they're completely self-obsessed and no-one else can comprehend American values, with him just shrugging off Garcian's Armor-Piercing Question about what the United States is. Within the OST you have a track called "American Diplomacy", which depicts it as if they were aliens invading earth in a B-Movie.
- Earn Your Title: Garcian is the Cleaner, he retrieves dead bodies and brings them back to life; Dan is the Hellion, because of how reckless and violent he is; KAEDE is named Barefoot, because she never wears shoes, and so on. Emir's titles of the Bloody Heartland and the Ace of Aces are the most reflective of his past.
- Easter Egg: Hopper 7, where the regular Smiles become HopperMen. Only the first level is available and all the enemies die in one hit.
- Egopolis: Ulmeyda InterCity, the setting of the third chapter (Cloudman) is the base of operations for Andrei Ulmeyda, and themed around him. To meet him, you have to collect figures of him from the "Presidents' Collection" and take a quiz based on posters of him, as well as deal with a unique Heaven Smile type bearing Ulmeyda's shirt.
- Eldritch Location:
- If taken literally, then Harman's Room and the Vinculum Gate are this, since they make appearances behind so many otherwise ordinary doors and seemingly can make connections throughout vast distances of space.
- The Dominican Republic. Even compared to the other trippy areas in the game, it's clear that there's something fundamentally wrong about it, featuring an entire area that loops on itself unless you take specific passageways that can be indicated by sound and dark passageways that teleport you throughout the city.
- By the end of the game, it becomes obvious that Garcian's trailerhouse follows similar rules as Harman's Room and the Vinculum Gate, though again, potentially non-literal ones. Not only is it simultaneously linked across the world to Harman's Room, which might be under the Colosseum on Battleship Island, and the Forbidden Room, which might be a suite on the top floor of the Union Hotel in Pennsylvania, but it also has a winding basement tunnel. Yes, a basement, in a trailer.
- The Forbidden Room is more or less confirmed to be this, as Kun Lan states that "time here is warped".
- Emoticon: The bodiless thief Susie used emoticons throughout her speeches, including this one: (`曲´) to signify extreme frustration.
- Empty Room Psych: Despite the intense music in the background, nothing ever happens to you inside the Vinculum Gates.
- Enter Solution Here: One of the chapters requires the player to memorize the details of multiple billboards in order to solve the security code of a fake office building. In a later chapter, a ridiculously long slew of security questions requires the player to find at least half a dozen audio logs and listen through every last one of them. Fortunately, the game is linear by design, so it's very hard to miss the solution in both cases (and in the case of the latter, the clues the game intends for you to memorize are shown in text while the audio logs play).
- Episode Zero: The Beginning: Per Grasshopper Manufacture tradition, the first chapter of Killer7 is numbered Target 00.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Garcian and Dan Smith, two experienced and hardboiled (and sadistic in Dan's case) killers, are disgusted and appalled by the actions of Curtis Blackburn, who abducted young girls, sodomized them, and killed them. He also abducted young boys and harvested their organs for sale on the black market.
- Everything's Deader with Zombies: Amidst the Heaven Smiles that function as this in gameplay but are otherwise nothing like zombies, is one of the boss fights in Sunset: two elderly Japanese gentlemen, Akiba and Kurahashi, who had their heads blown open but were resurrected where they sat (likely by Kun Lan). You have to blow their brains out, literally, to kill them... again.
- Evil Laugh: Heaven Smiles are this trope embodied. Their sole existence is to blow people up a la suicide bombing and laugh bloody murder as they're getting ready to do so. Their creator Kun Lan has a very impressive one as well.
- Exposition Fairy: Iwazaru drops into view on occasion (he hangs from a bungee cord) and informs the title assassins of what they need to do next, often by insulting them (for example, when he complains about MASK DE Smith, you have to switch to MASK to advance). The ending reveals that Iwazaru is Kun Lan in disguise, explaining why someone supposedly loyal to the Smiths has so little respect. Aside from the gimp, the Smiths travel with an entire retinue of 'quirky' exposition ghosts. Easygoing Travis also offers hints and is generally more trustworthy, Kess Bloodysunday is a shell-shocked ghost kid who tells you how to beat the bosses, and severed head Susie... the less said the better.
- Expressive Shirt: The text on Travis' shirt changes every time you see him. Some are themed: Many of them in a row are genres of music, and in the final chapter, appropriate to the themes of the game, his shirts bear the names of cities that have been the site of incidents of terrorism targeted towards the US.
- Eye Beams: As if creepy explosive Heaven Smile weren't bad enough, the Laser Smile variety can fire a long range beam as powerful as a normal smile's up-close detonation. Fortunately they are immobile and die after a single discharge.
- Fake Ultimate Mook: While somewhat annoying, the Giant Smiles can be easily dispatched by walking up to them to set them off, then running away and watching as they very slowly topple over and explode.
- False Roulette: Benjamin Keane tries to cheat at Russian Roulette with a revolver that holds seven bullets. Garcian doesn't even blink before pulling the trigger on himself a sixth time.
- Fan Disservice: Samantha has one (thankfully not graphic) sex scene. It's with Harman. In his wheelchair. While he's near-comatose.
- Fetch Quest: The game will usually fill an Assignment's puzzle quota with nonsensical Fetch Quests. For every Assignment you're tasked to find anywhere between one to seven "Soul Shells", which are the game's resident McGuffin, but also various kinds of rings, odd engravings, cassettes and later on "color samples". Travis Bell has something to say on the subject of color samples:Travis: Straight up, this is a pain, man? Running around for some frickin’ color samples. What makes it worse? This town is a mess. THAT’S what makes it worse.
- Filler: The Alter Ego chapter has very little relation to anything else that happens in the plot. It offers some world-building, but it's in relation to topics that are never brought up again and is only notable for having a Shout-Out to Suda51's Japan-only game, Moonlight Syndrome, and Mask de Smith getting a new power-up.
- Final Speech:
- Subverted; Dan kills Curtis partway through his.Dan: Trying to die in style? Give me a break, you sick old man!
- Every Remnant Psyche has an ominous and conclusive speech before vanishing forever.
- Subverted; Dan kills Curtis partway through his.
- First-Person Ghost: For some reason, the animated cutscenes in Cloudman work this way, with characters addressing the camera as if it were the Killer7 (but sometimes the camera shifts, and sometimes when that happens the person doesn't look towards the camera's new angle so...who knows?). The Killer7's dialogue is also unheard here too. In one instance ("we don't get many black folk around here"), it's explicitly directed at Garcian.
- Fission Mailed: In the battle with the Handsome Men, Mask is defeated during his duel, until he suddenly revives with a new costume and defeats his opponent.
- Flashback Echo: During the final phase of the chapter Smile, Garcian can stop by each floor of the Union Hotel and see bloodstains at the same places where he, as Emir Parkeriner, killed (and assimilated as alternate personalities) the six people of the Smith Syndicate, who all happened to be staying there at the time, bringing back painful memories.
- At the end of the Handsome Men fight, Garcian's counterpart Handsome Pink reveals her real identity as Love Wilcox, and explains how she wrote the story of this battle, implicitly making her the leader and not Handsome Red, Harman's counterpart. All of this foreshadows Garcian's true identity as Emir and his position as the host personality of the Smiths, not Harman. In addition, Garcian is the one holding the anti-tank rifle Harman usually uses during the game-esque credits following the fight against the Handsome Men, once again hinting at his link to Harman.
- In the very first level of the game, Travis calls Garcian "Emir". Garcian being Emir is the big endgame plot twist.
- For the Evulz: The Heaven Smiles are viewed as causing "terrorism for the sake of terror".
- The Four Gods: The first level in the chapter Sunset requires the Smiths to slide four screens together to lower a bridge. Each screen represents one of the four gods, and is located at the proper compass point.
- Fragile Speedster: Con Smith can burn blood to run extremely fast and has the least health of any member of the Smith Syndicate.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: In the famous Russian Roulette scene, when Keane pops out the cylinder for his revolver, if you count the amount of holes in said cylinder you can see the gun holds seven bullets, not the usual six. Nice attention to detail.
- Friendly Enemy: Harman and Kun Lan may be archenemies, but they're also best friends.
- Fun T-Shirt: Travis Bell's tank tops, which always have different words printed on the front depending on Travis' mood (probably) and the subject of the chapter. For example, in Smile, almost all of Travis' tank tops sport the names of locations where real-world terrorist attacks occured, such as New York, Nairobi, and Beirut.
- Fun with Subtitles: Suzie interjects smileys into her speech. Also, in the Japanese version of the game, all instances of words relating to death or murder are highlighted in red and shaking very quickly, to give them a greater emphasis.
- Gainax Ending: The ending of the penultimate chapter, Smile, has a very bizarre reveal about the true nature of the Smith Syndicate. It even has the protagonist undergo a tearful breakdown at the end. The chapter that follows clears none of it up and instead offers up an even more bizarre reveal.
- Gambit Pileup: Once you understand all the symbolism in Killer7, it becomes a truly staggering version of this: Harman Smith and Kun Lan are good friends, yet still in a war against eachother. Harman controls the Smith Syndicate (which is working for the US), and Kun Lan controls the Heaven Smiles and is heavily entrenched in the Japanese U.N. Party (even though he may be manipulating it to make US-Japan relations worse). Curtis Blackburn and Pedro are plotting against each other, and Dan Smith (Curtis's apprentice) is part of the Smith Syndicate but is plotting against Harman. The Handsome Men appear to be controlled by the comic book writer Trevor Pearlharbor even though their leader is nominally Handsome Red, but are actually being controlled by Handsome Pink, who actually writes their story, which makes Trevor believe he's writing it even though he's just precogniscient. In Japan, the amiable Liberal Party and the nationalist U.N. Party are at odds as to whether to cooperate with the US to save Japan from missiles sent from an unknown other country; however, the U.N. Party has taken control of the US elections through Coburn Elementary, even after Japan itself is geographically destroyed. Toru Fukushima, the leader of the U.N. Party, is betrayed by two moles, Jean DePaul (of the International Ethics Committee) and Julia Kisugi (of the Liberal Party); both of them were waiting for the other to make the first move, let the other one get killed by the Smiths, then take the Yakumo for themselves. From Coburn, Greg Nightmare controlled the election, but at some point was turned into a Heaven Smile. The principal Benjamin Keane is himself trying to be elected president. Harman himself was involved in the founding of Coburn, and is manipulating the real host personality of the Smith Syndicate, his own student Emir, into thinking he's one of Harman's personae. Andrei Ulmeyda is using a UN Party document called the Yakumo to amicably gain power, but his city is actually being controlled by the military to conduct experiments. And finally, the Smiths' trusted associate Iwazaru is actually the last Heaven Smile and another avatar of Kun Lan.
- Gambit Roulette: The entire game, as revealed in the supplementary material, Jaco's Report. An FBI agent who lost his family to the Heaven Smiles uses a machine that predicts the future to predict the Last Smile, which will eradicate the Smiles entirely once defeated. As the probability of the predictions happening increases with each one that comes true and eventually reaches a point that a prediction will come true even if the machine has to bend reality to make it happen, he sets the events of each mission in motion to force the Last Smile into existence.
- Gambling Brawl: In the second chapter, a group of diplomats are playing Japanese Mahjong. One declares a victory for the round, only for another to realize the win broke the rules (which the former seems to have been unaware of) and points it out. They all immediately declare everything over and shoot each other simultaneously.
- Gameplay and Story Integration: The gameplay is designed to be a "best of both world" approach to Japanese and Western game design philosophies. Japanese gamers prefer linear games, while Western gamers prefer games that are open-ended. In turn, the gameplay of Killer7 can be described as exploring a wide open environment (the Western approach) with on-rails controls (the Japanese approach).
- Gangsta Style: Con does a variation with Guns Akimbo, where the right sides of both guns are facing up, rather than the left-hand gun having its left side up. Coyote has an especially bad case - he does not merely hold his gun sideways, but diagonally over his head. He also has serious kickback and is one of the most difficult characters to aim with.
- Genre-Busting: Both the story and gameplay are nearly impossible to neatly categorize. In terms of gameplay, the limited movement, fixed camera angles, and light Adventure Game elements suggest a Survival Horror game (not surprising, seeing as it was produced by Shinji Mikami), while the combat resembles a Rail Shooter and the powerup system is more reminiscent of a traditional action-adventure game with RPG Elements. The plot, meanwhile, plays out like a bizarre lovechild of Hideo Kojima, David Lynch, and Quentin Tarantino, having heavy elements of politics, horror, satire and crime drama.
- Gentle Giant: MASK De Smith. A huge, burly man in a suit, cape and wrestling mask, armed with two grenade launchers that burn his enemies to the ground, but he's a surprisingly nice, mellow guy under the mask.
- "Get Back Here!" Boss: The Ceramic Smile screams and runs if you face it. Its weak spot, its heart, is only vulnerable from the front. You have to keep your back turned, then flip around at the last second and shoot it in the heart. Alternatively, you just turn around and quietly wait there with your gun out. The battle arena is circular, and the Ceramic Smile is an idiot, so it'll just come back 'round to you and skid to a halt while you shoot its weak point.
- Giant Mook: The game introduces the Giant Smile enemy type in its third chapter (Cloudman). Mostly identical to the ordinary Heaven Smiles, only at least six or seven metres tall and near-completely impervious to bullets, except in its single eye.
- A God Am I: Trevor Pearlharbor is utterly confident in his ability to write the future with his comic books. He's wrong, though, as he can only predict the future, not change it.
- Go-Karting with Bowser: Harman and Kun Lan and their chess games. Necessary because they're both immortal; since neither can have ultimate victory, they have to settle for getting best two out of three at chess. Or global thermonuclear war. Whichever strikes their fancy.
- Good Powers, Bad People: The game plays with this trope, as the two main supernatural antagonists are both basically "Gods". However, Kun Lan, armed with the "good" power of life, uses it to create heaven smiles, hideous monsters used as living bombs, while Harman Smith, armed with the "evil" power of death, uses this to empower his assassins to destroy manifestations of evil in the world (said heaven smiles). The ending implies that the two sometimes switch which of them is "good" and "evil", which leads to the other tropes.
- Government Conspiracy: There's one regarding federal elections in the United States. Specifically, since most polling places are at public schools, the Department of Education can easily switch out the ballots before they're counted. Thus, the Secretary of Education decides who becomes President.
- Gratuitous English: The phrase "Change the Wold" is written on a chalkboard at Coburn Elementary.
- Grenade Launcher: Mask de Smith uses two, and over the course of the game they can be upgraded to further enhance their power.
- Guns Akimbo: Con and Mask, with respectively handguns and grenade launchers.
- Handbag of Hurt: Garcian Smith's down attack involves hitting an enemy with his large suitcase.
- Hand Cannon: Dan Smith uses a Colt Python as his primary weapon. While this is large enough to qualify for this trope as is, he receives a mid-game upgrade: the Demon Gun, a double barreled, twelve-shell cylinder revolver, which appears to be larger than his head in several cut scenes. MASK goes one better by using a pair of cut-down grenade launchers.
- Handguns: What most of the characters are armed with. Two of them (Dan and Coyote) have revolvers, three (Con, KAEDE, and Garcian) have automatics. Garcian later switches from his automatic to a gold-plated revolver after the other personalities are all defeated.
- Halfway Plot Switch: After Sunset, main villains Kun Lan and Matsuoka (along with the whole main plot of the game) just kind of take a back seat all the way until the climax.
- Harder Than Hard: Upon completing the game for the first time, you get access "Killer 8". In it you get an additional character with both a clip size and rate of fire drastically larger than any of the normal caricatures. However, the down side is that the enemies are faster and more deadly; just shooting at them normally does almost nothing, the weak points that you use to kill them instantly are now completely invisible, and the enemies give you less "blood" to level up and heal with. And the extra character has a metric ton of health (to the point that he's the only character besides Mask who can take more than one hit in this mode). Since resurrecting dead characters requires Button Mashing as fast as you can until refill their health gauge, you better make sure he doesn't die if you value your thumbs.
- Hate Sink: In a cast full of deranged and villainous characters, Samantha manages to come across as especially despicable despite simply being an extremely abrasive nurse. It helps that she's a rapist.
- Have a Nice Death: Your player character's head rolls over, opens its mouth and bellows a bloody Kanji.
- Headphones Equal Isolation: Con Smith wears them all the time despite being a blind gunman. Later, it turns out his inattentiveness as a result of his headphones was the reason he was easily killed by Emir.
- Heal Thyself: The title characters use the blood of their enemies to heal their own wounds. It's got to be the right kind of blood, though.
- Helpful Mook: The Camelia Smiles run screaming when they see you, but if you hit their weak spot, you get massive amounts of blood. According to Iwazaru, they're traitors to the Heaven Smiles.
- Here We Go Again!: The end of the first mission has Harman Smith asking Kun Lan "You're awake from your dream?" to which Kun Lan responds "Harman, the size of the world has changed." In the end of the final mission, Harman asks Kun Lan, "You're awake from your nightmare?" The response is "Harman, the world doesn't change, all it does is turn." Also, their confrontation at the beginning of the game takes place in Seattle; their confrontation at the end takes place in an unspecified Chinese city. You can probably fill in the blanks.
- High-Pressure Blood: The game has the blood coming by the gallons: enemies killed normally spray blood for several seconds before vanishing while those hit in their weak spot explode into a blood mist, and one character's special ability involves spraying blood from her wrist to break barriers. And then there's Cloudman (4:45 for those who don't want any story spoiling).
- Hints Are for Losers: A remnant psyche named Yoon-Hyun offers cryptic hints for some of the game's puzzles. You can also shoot his mask and give him an offering of blood, after which he'll give you a much clearer hint... and becomes much more rude, calling the player a loser and flipping them off with both hands.
- His Name Is...: Christopher Mills is assassinated right when he's about to tell Garcian about his backstory.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Dan finishes Curtis off by activating the machinery in the room they fought in — Curtis is subsequently cleaned and hung up to dry.
- Hopeless Boss Fight: The game brings two downplayed examples to the table, the first being the fight against the Handsome Men (essentially a series of duels, some of which are impossible to win, and in the long run you only win thanks to one character's 11th-Hour Superpower) and the other being the fight with Greg Nightmare (who sends a group of near-invincible Heaven Smiles at you, who systematically take down six of your personas, leaving Garcian to pick up the Golden Gun and finish Greg off).
- The Hyena: The Heaven Smiles play this for pure horror, as depending on the type they'll laugh to either merely signal their presence or will slowly walk towards the Smiths. Their creator, Big Bad Kun Lan, is certainly no slouch in this department either.
- I Cannot Self-Terminate: Andrei Ulmeyda publicly challenges the titular assassins to kill him. When they reach him, he reveals that he's terrified at the thought of becoming a Heaven's Smile and called on them to kill him in case he becomes one. He promptly does when the Army intervenes, and his Heaven's Smile form is the Boss Battle of the chapter.
- Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: This game's hard mode is called Deadly. killer8 forces you into a harder difficulty named Bloodbath, while hopper7 gives the joke Face the Swarm difficulty, which is a variant of Deadly.
- In a Single Bound: This is a supernatural ability of Coyote Smith, one of the Killer7 assassins. In certain parts, he can perform a large leap to either reach a high spot, or jump over an obstacle that would be impassable otherwise.
- Inexplicably Awesome: The entire main cast, all the more since the officially published backstory doesn't actually match what's presented in the game. Even the character with the most backstory given in the game, Dan Smith, still counts once you realize he had to have died twice.
- In Medias Res: Angel throws you straight into the game without a single bit of exposition. Additionally, the screen summing up the objective of it indicates it's the thirty-third job undertaken by the Smiths.
- Instant Messenger Pigeon: Throughout each level, there are carriers pigeons carrying a memo from Johnny Gagnon, who the Killer7 receive his letters intended for Emir.
- Interface Spoiler: Channels 9, 10, and 11 are just added as a reference to a certain type of TV. However, this leads to a very hard-to-figure-out one: Whenever you can select Harman while on his channel, he says, "Ah, Garcian... how long has it been?" If you go to the Blood channel quickly, he still says it since no sub menus or voices can be shown there. Same goes for Channel 11 and Channel 10... but it stops at Channel 9. This foreshadows killer8, where there is someone who takes Channel 9 as his own.
- In the Name of the Moon: The woman who was psychologically tortured into being given a false person by Curtis starts both of her battles with this."Ayame Blackburn, Survive!"
- Ironic Nursery Tune: Happens near the end of the sixth chapter (Smile), with Emir Parkreiner whistling Greensleeves/What Child is This? as he murders the Smiths.
- Invisibility: Kevin Smith's ultimate ability is to turn invisible to go undetected among the Heaven Smiles, which are usually very good at spotting any living being to attempt to suicidally kill them. Kevin's invisibility is further reinforced with his permanent silence (he never speaks and the noises he makes while running are very minimal).
- Jack of All Stats: The game offers seven playable elite assassins through which players can freely toggle. Their resident Jack is Dan Smith, whose balanced attack, speed, waver and critical skills usually make him the players' weapon of choice. Every other character either moves or reloads too slowly, aims slightly off or is prone get one-hit killed. Dan has no weaknesses unless scripted otherwise.
- Japan Takes Over the World: One of the two endings results in Japan leading the United Nations in a war against the U.S. Given that the game was made by Suda51 (and runs heavy with the theme of eternal and inevitable conflict between eastern and western cultures), we can safely presume this is not meant to be a "good" ending.
- Jiggle Physics: Handsome Pink and Handsome Light Brown display it with their chests. Handsome Purple, with his belly.
- Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: The game sets the puzzle pieces in front of you, takes a handful away, and leaves you to assemble the rest. In the end, it's incredibly easy to miss the connections.
- Karmic Death:
- Dan can talk, but can't back it up. In death, he has the strength to back it up.
- Coyote is outwitted by Emir. In death, he has the ingenuity that could have saved his life.
- KAEDE tried to save herself by placing a barrier between her and Emir. In death, she can commit suicide in order to break barriers.
- Con could not hear Emir coming nor could he escape. In death, he gains super hearing and super speed.
- MASK presents the image of an invulnerable superhero with his mask, but is killed effortlessly whilst not wearing it. In death, his mask grants him incredible powers, making him the strongest of the group.
- Kevin's lackluster disguise fails to prevent Emir from detecting him. In death, he gains the ultimate means to avoid detection.
- Last but not least, Garcian (Emir) kills the others, and then commits suicide out of guilt. In death, he can revive the other personas.
- Less ambiguously, several targets including Curtis being killed by his own organ harvesting machines, and Trevor Pearlharbor having a hole blown through him by Handsome Black's Handsome Wink.
- Keeper of Forbidden Knowledge: Christopher Mills knows that Garcian's the main personality, not Harman, and also knows that the government is controlled by the Secretary of Education. This gets him killed.
- Kick Chick: Kaede's counterattacks, ironically tying in with her status as Barefoot.
- Kill and Replace: This is the force behind the Smith Syndicate: Garcian Smith learns in a Tomato in the Mirror moment that he was the one who murdered the other 6 members of the Syndicate and assumed both their forms and identities.
- Killed Mid-Sentence: Christopher Mills says to Garcian, "30 years ago, you and Harman..." and then somebody shoots him, forcing Garcian to flee the scene, as he thought he was in danger.
- Kingmaker Scenario: The Smiths are hired to take out Matsuken, the leader of a significant 10 million US voters, before he can rig the elections. 10 million is technically less than 1% of the vote - BUT since the state elections are near-tied, if Matsuken herded them all into a single small state and had them vote he could win the election for whichever kiss-ass the Japanese favor. And then you find out this was all a big distraction so nobody would realize the Department of Education has been swapping out ballot machines.
- Klingon Promotion: Minor characters Shinya Akiba and Hiroyasu Kurahashi rose in prominence through this. When nuclear missiles threaten to destroy Japan, they order the new leader of the U.N. Party, Kenjiro Matsuoka, to kill himself while revealing this truth. After continually mocking Matsuoka, they are promptly shot by him, only for Kun Lan to appear and revive the two as sentient Heaven Smile/zombie hybrids, while also giving Matsuoka the confidence he needs to be a great leader.
- Late to the Tragedy: Every level amounts to this - the titular assassin group arrives to perform a job, and Travis fills them in on why, exactly, someone has to be killed.
- Laughing Mad: The trademark sound of the Heaven Smiles. They introduce themselves with a little chuckle, and when they attack, they erupt into one of the most psychotic cackles ever recorded. Even when they die, they go nuts with laughter. They also happen to share this trait with their creator, Kun Lan.
- Level-Map Display: Each level has one that highlights what room you're in and several other features. On Normal, Harman's Rooms, characters and rings needed for puzzles, and Soul Shells are shown. Deadly removes all but the Harman's Rooms and Soul Shells, and killer8 removes the Soul Shells.
- Limited Wardrobe: Harman only ever wears Jesuit priest clothes, Garcian a white suit, and Kevin nothing but sunglasses and chinos (although he does change the former, and wears a different belt in each mission). MASK changes his clothes exactly three times in the game, and in each case it's a plot point; on the other hand, before finding the blue mask, he wears a different mask in each level. In contrast, Dan, KAEDE, Coyote, and Con wear different clothes in each level, albeit always of the same style.
- Locked Door: And Coyote's a thief; do the math. Coyote's lockpicking skills are so great that he can pick a padlock by just casually manhandling it with one hand.
- Long Song, Short Scene:
- Rave On, with a total length of five minutes or so, plays exclusively in the short staircase between the Vinculum Gate and the Colosseum.
- "Geopolitics", the theme that plays when the player transitions between locations, is about a minute long, but the player is lucky to hear more than 10 seconds of it (and it's mostly covered up by sound effects).
- Losing Your Head:
- Susie Sumner as a Remnant Psyche is just a head.
- Killer7's death animation: the player character's detached head, superimposed over a bloody Kanji of "death".
- And tragically, Mary Montana.
- Lost in Medias Res: Invoked by Angel, which gives no explicit introductions to anything; however, this forces the player to, through gameplay, get acquainted with the workings of the game, and Angel is actually very light on plot for this reason.
- Lunacy: There're some disturbing shots of the moon quivering and pulsating to an ominous soundtrack whenever a chapter starts or a file is loaded. While the moon inserts are never formally addressed, they form a sort of analogy with the Laughing Mad Heaven Smiles. (They're also a recurring image of Suda's, as explored in Moonlight Syndrome and The Silver Case among others.)
- Soul Shells, which are required to advance to the next stage. The exceptions are the chapters Cloudman and Alter Ego, which require collection of Ulmeyda-themed bottlecaps and color samples, respectively.
- The Yakumo. Several major factions in the game want it, but nobody explains what it is and what it can do. Hand in Killer7 says it is a founding document of the United Nations Party which outlines its foreign policy, but nothing explains why something like that would be so powerful. A fragment of it (or possibly an imperfect copy) is what allowed Andrei Ulmeyda to build a highly successful company that doesn't actually produce anything.
- Made of Iron: Both the Final Boss and the Post-Final Boss:
- Greg Nightmare starts off as a traditional boss by this game's standards. Then you blow off his lower body, at which point he won't die no matter how many times you shoot him. In addition, he spawns seven Black Smiles, each of which kills a personality permanently and cannot be killed at all. What you're supposed to do is watch all six main personalities (seven in the New Game Plus) die until you get to Garcian, at which point he can pick up the Golden Gun, which will one-shot any remaining Smiles and Nightmare himself.
- The Last Shot Smile is an utterly pathetic boss, but the aforementioned Golden Gun takes five shots to kill it, meaning that from a plot perspective, it's likely immune to all other weapons as well.
- Magical Girl: Ayame Blackburn is an homage to the genre, having an introduction sequence and wearing an animegao mask.
- The Magic Goes Away: The penultimate episode (Smile) ends with whatever cursed magic woven by 'real Harman Smith' and Kun Lan on Emir Parkreiner that binds all of the dead Smiths onto Garcian being undone by unkillable Black Heaven Smiles. When only Garcian remains (you can't switch to him until all the other Smiths are gone), Garcian can use a weapon lying on the floor to defend himself against the Smiles and defeat the warped politicians and escape. From that point onward in the plot, the other Smiths which you've been relying on throughout the entire game are completely and finally dead, leaving you with only Garcian, the most vulnerable of all the Smiths.
- The Magnificent Seven Samurai: A very, very weird version, but technically still follows the archetype of a team of seven being called on to defend the populace from an evil threat. In particular, it resembles the Exaggerated version on the playing with a trope page.
- Mask Power:
- MASK de Smith, pro wrestling god, who even powers up by finding new masks.
- Another example: Ayame Blackburn, who wears a kigurumi mask with exaggerated anime-style facial features.
- Yoon-Hyun's mask absorbs blood and can seemingly activate his alternate personality.
- Master of Unlocking: One of Coyote Smith's special abilities is to pick open padlocks. He's so good at it that he can unlock padlocks by just manhandling them with one hand for a few seconds.
- The Maze: There are two real ones (Ulmeyda's boss arena in Cloudman and the Lost City in Alter Ego) and a fake one (in the Freaky Fun House in Encounter). The Lost City maze can be tackled by taking advantage of Con's hearing ability, while the Fun House one merely requires paying attention to the pictures next to the doors. But the ambulance maze where Ulmeyda lurks has no helpful perks other than memorizing the ambulance units to know where you are, and if you accidentally touch Ulmeyda (for example, when you're crossing a junction while looking for him), you'll die instantly.
- Meaningful Background Event: When Mills summons Garcian at the start of Cloudman, Ulmeyda's challenge to Garcian turns into a non sequitur rant about someone with type AB blood whose parents have A and O, which Ulmeyda finds pretty cool since it's biologically impossible. Come the end of the game, and Garcian turns out to be Emir Parkreiner, who has type B blood while his parents have A and O; again, impossible. Ulmeyda was basically telling Garcian that he knew the truth of who he was, but in a way Garcian couldn't pick up on.
- Meaningful Name:
- The verb "Smith", aka "to hit" (i.e. metal). In Killer7, the Smiths are assassins, i.e., "hitmen". It can also be seen as a declaration of anonymity and allegiance to America, as the killers are of many different ethnicities but all have a generic American last name as personalities of Harman, the hero of the west.
- Trevor Pearlharbor is ultimately killed by one of his own sentai heroes; the word "sentai" literally refers to a Japanese military unit, for example the one that bombed Pearl Harbor.
- Yoon-Hyun was the owner of the Union Hotel Group; sound out "Yoon-Hyun".
- Ayame Blackburn, an assassin - "Ayameru" means "to kill", as pointed out in The Silver Case.
- The song that plays over the credits is named "Dissociative Identity". That's the modern name for what used to be called Multiple Personality Disorder.
- Meido: Samantha zigzags the trope, due to having a Split Personality. One half has her act and dress like a typical maid, and the other is... less than ideal.
- Metal Slime:
- The Mini Smiles fly at you at high speed. If they hit, they explode and temporarily blind you. Shooting red ones gives you a great deal of Thick Blood (which you use to power up), and shooting a yellow one heals you fully.
- The Camellia Smiles run away as soon as they're shot and explode a few seconds later; killing them before they escape (which requires hitting their weak spot or a very fast character) rewards you with large amounts of Thick Blood.
- Metropolis Level: The setting of the chapter Alter Ego is the streets of Santo Domingo in Dominican Republic. Here, the Smiths have to look for color-coded stamps to find the Handsome Men, and to this end they have to make their way across compact corridors and streets (including an illusory alley that can only be tackled with Con's hearing ability). Interestingly, due to a series of events during the chapter's climax, the Handsome Men themselves aren't fought here but in a lively street of New York, which fits the trope too.
- Mercy Kill: Ulmeyda specifically hires you to kill him when he becomes a Smile.
- Mexican Standoff: Subverted with the Mahjong table; it looks like one, but then everyone opens fire.
- Mighty Glacier: Mask de Smith walks slowly, carries twin grenade launchers, and is strong enough to pull trucks along. He used to be a pro wrestler.
- Militaries Are Useless: The only case you see of the military being mobilized in the game is the worst case possible. They storm Andrei Ulmeyda's outpost, not because he's a dangerous criminal, but because he produces miracle cures by overcoming deadly diseases and are hoping he can do the same with Heaven Smile. Nevermind that Andrei has been taking absurd measures to avoid Heaven Smile, including "hiring" the Killer7, because even he thinks he can't handle it. He ends up being right, and his transformation is so extreme that the entire military unit is wiped out, leaving only the Killer7 to put down the mutated Andrei.
- Milkman Conspiracy: The United States government is controlled by Japan through a Seattle elementary school.
- Mind Screw: One of the most infamous examples to people who've played it, up there with the likes of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. Imagine walking in a straight line for hours with four people talking at you about completely different things. Cryptically. And every five minutes, you have to stop and think really hard about the first thing you see. When you've finally finished that, you discover that 50% of what you just did was All Just a Dream, yet 75% was real.
- Mini-Boss: After crossing the Vinculum Gates and being close to the whereabouts of a chapter's boss, the Smiths have to defeat a brand-new Heaven Smile to proceed. The catch is that, during these fights, any attack from them can kill the characters instantly, so they have to defeat them quickly first; most of them are degraded into regular enemies afterwards (though the Speed, Timer and Galactic Tomahawk Smiles remain one-time opponents).
- Mirror Boss: The Handsome Men are a team of rival assassins who battle the Smith Syndicate in a Duel Boss sequence. Not only do they have one member for each of your 8 characters, but they all copy the weapons those characters use; and every single motion and shot you make, turning every battle into a war of attrition which you are destined to either win or lose. If you pay attention to this being a Mirror Boss along with the cutscene afterwards, this is ultimately Foreshadowing to Harman's status as a Decoy Protagonist to Garcian, as Handsome Red is to Handsome Pink.
- The Mole: Toru Fukushima has two: his secretary Julia Kisugi and apprentice chef Jean Depaul. Also, one of the theories spawned from the Last Shot Smile is that Iwazaru is one for the Killer7.
- Monkey Morality Pose: Iwazaru, Mizaru and Kikazaru all represent a variation. Iwazaru is, ironically, your Exposition Fairy who is constantly making the "shush" gesture. Mizaru points out obstacles that KAEDE can remove and always has her eyes covered. Kikazaru is completely silent, disappears when you draw near and highlights the locations of Soul Shells.
- Monster of the Week: The Killer7 hunt down a major target in each mission.
- Mook Debut Cutscene: Upon first encountering any type of Heaven Smile, the screen zooms in and the name is displayed for a short time.
- Mook Maker: Mother Smiles, Duplicator Smiles, and Greg Nightmare. A Mother Smile is a hatcher that sends an endless number of enemies at the player, until it is destroyed. This requires using one of the character's special moves to achieve. Duplicator Smiles are smaller hatchers that appear as enemies throughout the level, and pose less of a threat, since they require less fire power. The last one is a Flunky Boss that sends in near-invincible black Smiles when it's in the verge of defeat.
- Moon Logic: The puzzles are fairly easy to solve (especially when you can usually pay a guy to have him flat out tell you the solution), but the logic behind them is frequently no less esoteric, like filling a vase with water to get an Odd Engraving to float to the top to grab it, instead of just turning the vase upside down and dumping it out, or summoning a pigeon by flushing a toilet. Since the whole game is one massive Mind Screw, the bizarre nonsensical puzzles don't stand out like they ought to.
- More Despicable Minion: While Kun Lan is a terrorist who kills a lot of people, he's a very good friend to his enemy Harman Smith and his motives are very ambiguous. Curtis Blackburn, in contrast, is a pedophilic human trafficker who kidnaps and rapes young girls before using their organs to create more Heaven Smiles for Kun Lan, and he's one of the few characters in the game that no one has anything nice to say about.
- Motif: Masks appear all over the game, tying in with the theme of deception.
- Mr. Exposition: This is the sole purpose for the existence of Travis Bell. As you go through each mission, he informs you why you're there and what's happened thus far. Since the Killer7 are only called in once things have degraded to where someone has to die, this is essentially Late to the Tragedy embodied in a character. And you can never be sure if Travis (who openly despises you) is telling the truth, either...
- Multi-Gendered Split Personalities: KAEDE is one of the many split personalities of Harman Smith and the only female one. Of course, the personalities don't originate within the host.
- Multinational Team: The main cast consists of Dan, Harman, and Garcian Smith from America, albino Kevin Smith from Britain, Kaede Smith from Japan, Con Smith from China, Coyote Smith from South America, and Mask de Smith from Mexico.
- N+1 Sequel Title: While not a sequel, hard mode is called "killer8" mode.
- New Game Plus: Beating the game unlocks killer8 mode, which lets you start over with an even higher difficulty level than before, as well as a new selectable player character, and beating that unlocks hopper7 mode, which allows you to play the first level with most of the enemies swapped with giant grasshoppers.
- New Powers as the Plot Demands: After Mask de Smith is defeated in a duel with one of the Handsome Men, he suddenly transforms into a Kamen Rider-esque figure with a new super attack and no reloading. Mask transforming and getting stronger is actually a game mechanic, but normally only happens when he finds a new mask, while the transformation with the Handsome Men is completely out of the blue and goes without a word by anyone.
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: An old senile hitman, who spends the duration of the story getting raped by his maid, with seven split personalities which can manifest into the real world fighting suicide bomber zombie things who are really happy all the time. The split personalities are comprised of a black guy with resurrection powers, a badass anime stereotype with a revolver that can shoot energy balls, Mexican Tommy Vercetti with super jumping powers and the ability to fire a weapon upside down without breaking his elbow, a blind Chinese gangsta kid who can run really freaking fast and dual-wields pistols sideways, a sniper chick who really really likes blood, a mute albino knife freak who can turn invisible, and a macho libre wrestler.
- The Notable Numeral: The eponymous Killer 7, whose name alludes to the syndicate of seven assassins (specifically Harman's seven personalities, later revealed to be Garcian's).
- Not So Stoic: Garcian has a difficult time coping with the final reveal.
- Number of the Beast: Emir Parkreiner's locker is #666. Looking in locker #616 leads the player to Mask's final mask.
- Odd Name Out: The Handsome Men from the chapter Alter Ego, in true Sentai tradition, are all named after the colors they wear (Handsome Red, Handsome Blue, Handsome White Pearl, etc.,) except for Handsome Dead (who's dark red and yellow.)
- Off Like a Shot: Con Smith takes exactly this pose when he activates his extra-speed power.
- Offscreen Teleportation: Garcian can travel around the country with unexplained ease. Over the course of Sunset he travels across the country, between Seattle and Washington D.C., five times, all within less than eighteen hours. In a world without air travel.
- One-Hit Kill:
- Touching Andrei Ulmeyda. He's the boss of the third chapter.
- The demonic black Smiles during the boss battle of the sixth chapter. In fact, six of the seven Smith members die inevitably because of them. Luckily, Garcian then grabs the ultra-powerful Golden Gun to kill the remaining Smile, as well as the boss himself, in one shot each. From there to the end of the game, he can kill with one shot any Smile (except the final boss, though it still goes down after five shots), without even having to aim at their weak points.
- One-Hit-Point Wonder: Every enemy in Killer8 mode can kill the Smiths in one hit (except, luckily, most of the bosses, probably because of the different ways they're fought).
- Organ Theft: Organ theft is part of the fourth chapter's plot (Encounter). Made even creepier because the organs are taken from immigrant children and children abducted from a creepy theme park. Plus the things Curtis Blackburn did with the bodies of the girls he killed.
- Our Ghosts Are Different: Remnant Psyches, the lingering consciousnesses of the dead who have found themselves sucked into and attached to Harman's mind.
- One of These Doors Is Not Like the Other: At one point you navigate by the sound of a singer's voice. Thing is, you can't do so just by listening. Instead, you have to switch to Con Smith: He's blind, so via Disability Superpower he can "see" the music as sound waves.
- Our Souls Are Different: Harman and Kun Lan's essences reincarnate, but each one of their reincarnations has its own unique soul to the point that Harman was able to enslave one of Kun Lan's past lives as a Remnant Psyche in the form of Iwazaru.
- Painful Transformation: The game features Heaven Smiles as its regular enemies. While some of them are transformed humans, you rarely see the transformations. When you do, they usually feature an instantaneous transformation or an offscreen one. Then there's Andrei Ulmeyda, whose transformation goes like this: [[spoiler: The army, wishing to experiment on him to try and use Smiles as their own weapons, injects potent Heaven Smile tumors into him. The army triggers a small explosion for some reason, but then an even larger explosion occurs and Ulmeyda asks why you didn't kill him at the injection and saying he "can't control this urge to kill." He then screams, his head then flies off his head, his acidic blood (acidic because of all the diseases he infected himself with to create vaccines) kills everyone in the army present, then his blood brings his head back onto his body and pulls up his afro.
- Parrying Bullets: Mask de Smith ups the ante by headbutting a bullet out of mid-air without even damaging his luchadore mask.
- Pastel-Chalked Freeze Frame: How most cutscenes end before fading out.
- The Pawn: The end of game, where Harman's younger self tells Garcian that he is actually Emir Parkreiner, and has been observed and controlled by the government all this time. At least, we think that's what happens.
- Percussive Maintenance: Occasionally, the serum machine acts up until The Mad Doctor hits it to restart it. It still has a chance of shutting down and not starting back up if you process too much Thick Blood in the level.
- Pivotal Boss: The Angel in the first chapter. The boss never moves away from the central spot of the battlefield.
- Playable Epilogue: The seventh and final chapter (Target 06: Lion), serves this role, and has two highlights: The Sadistic Choice that determines the fate of the world, all determined in whether or not you kill Kenjiro Matsuoka or not. Then, the Post-Final Boss afterwards with the Last Shot Smile, who has a completely unexplained identity, resembling two people.
- Plot Coupon: In many chapters, you have to collect Soul Shells and deliver them to someone in the Vinculum Gate to access the whereabouts of the next boss (though this changes in the penultimate chapter: the first delivery takes you to someone telling you that your next target went elsewhere, and the the second deliverynote is only the first of many steps necessary to access that level's boss).
- Pop Quiz:
- The "Presidential Loyalty Assessment" on the way to Ulmeyda's lair.
- Another, much harder one is required to get into the gym in the Smile chapter.
- Post-Final Boss: Emir Parkreiner and the Last Shot Smile. Both are Zero-Effort Bosses.
- Posthumous Character: The Remnant Psyches are the ghosts of people who were previously associated with the Seven Smiths during their lifetime, mostly former victims. Most of them are the ghosts of defeated bosses like Andre Ulmeyda and Curtis Blackburn, but some of them (namely Travis Bell, Kess Bloodysunday, Susie Sumner) were also past victims who died before the events of the game. The only possible exception is Iwazaru, who may be The Mole, the Big Bad, neither, or both.
- Post-Rape Taunt: Not explicitly stated, but heavily implied by Curtis Blackburn to his former partner Pedro Montana about his wife. Subverted in that Pedro isn't really a good guy.
- Power of the God Hand: Kun Lan's power is the God Hand, which apparently allows his right hand to emit a light that turns people into Heaven Smiles, among other things.
- Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: Harman to the Angel: "Good night, child. It's past your bedtime."
- Professional Killer: The game includes a rogue's gallery of them, including Mask DeSmith, Dan Smith. Kevin Smith]], Kaede Smith, Con Smith, Coyote Smith, and Garcian Smith.
- The Psycho Rangers: The Handsome Men, who get bonus points due to actually being a Super Sentai parody. In the in-universe Handsome Men franchise, though, the Smiths are this to them.
- Purposely Overpowered: Young Harman is extremely powerful, having massive health, a large ammo supply, and a fast, powerful machine gun. Given the difficulty of killer8, you'll need these attributes to survive.
- Quick Draw: The Boss Battle between Dan Smith and Curtis Blackburn is fought like this in the fourth chapter (Encounter). The signal to shoot is when the pigeon next to Curtis flies; if you shoot too early or too late (or when the pigeon is only flapping the wings momentarily), Curtis will shoot you. Whoever receives four shots loses the duel. Right before it takes off, the pigeon will coo.
- Rainbow Speak: In the Japanese version of the game, whenever someone uses a word with the Kanji for "kill" (殺) or "death" (死), the Kanji is enlarged, colored red, and has flashing spikes protruding from it.
- Rain of Blood:
- Ulmeyda gives one off when he transforms into a Heaven Smile. His blood is so full of diseases that it kills everyone present except his followers (who regularly partake of his blood) and the Smiths (who are not really human anymore).
- KAEDE's special ability is this, and it can break down barriers (for some reason).
- Recurring Boss: Ayame Blackburn, a hijacked woman who is roleplaying as an anime superhero, is fought twice (both in the fourth chapter, Encounter). The first fight takes place in a wide, empty parking area beyond an amusement park where your bullets only inflict damage as long as she runs past a light post (she's invincible in the dark); while the second takes place inside a narrow garage where you have to keep and eye on what door opens so you can shoot her. However, the chapter's final boss is someone else (Curtis Blackburn, the man who hijacked Ayame).
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: Kun Lan is a Tibetan terrorist who is the reincarnation of the Buddhist temptation demon Mara Papima. He has red eyes and grey skin to highlight his sinister nature.
- Replay Mode: The game allows you to replay the chapters you've already completed, though only when you're not in the midst of a current chapter (as the game always puts you back at the latest save point). You keep all rings and thick blood upgrades, but MASK's special upgrades, Dan's Demon Gun, and Garcian's Golden Gun cannot be brought back to chapters prior to obtaining them.
- Respawning Enemies: Many rooms in the levels have one or two Heaven Smiles that keep teleporting in with a chuckle. Handy for collecting blood.
- The Reveal: Many in the final chapters:
- The United States elections have been subverted by the Japanese taking control of a politically important elementary school in Seattle. Japan being bombed in Sunset? In reality, this was the United States discovering they've been subverted and choosing violent retribution. This is also why they refused to intercept any missiles - they were being launched from American air space, not flying through it.
- Harman Smith was heavily involved with said school, which was secretly training children to become assassins. Also, there are multiple Harmans.
- Garcian is actually Emir Parkreiner, who killed all the Smiths which resulted in his (not Harman's) split personalities.
- And finally, the final Heaven Smile is Iwazaru, who is also Kun Lan.
- Revolvers Are Just Better: The revolvers Dan and Coyote use are significantly more powerful than the semi-automatic pistols used by KAEDE and Garcian. Halfway through the game Dan upgrades to the Demon Gun, a revolver with two barrels and twelve rounds in one huge cylinder◊. Finally, Greg Nightmare's Golden Gun is also a revolver, and it is capable of killing Heaven Smiles in one shot no matter where they're hit.
- Ring of Power: The Killer7 obtains seven rings in each level with their own ability required to solve several puzzles.
- Rocket-Tag Gameplay: The fight against Andrei Ulmeyda works out like this. If he catches you, it's an instant kill no matter which Smith you're using. In turn, if you can get behind him and hit his weak point, he goes down in one shot.
- Room 101: The game has the Forbidden Room, which may or may not be the source of the horrific screaming and moaning heard in the building throughout the game. Eventually it's revealed to contain Kun Lan and Harman playing chess, the entities who rewrote Garcian's identity, shaping him into a pawn in their endless metaphysical battle.
- R-Rated Opening: The game, within about five minutes of the start, has Dan Smith encounter a hooded man in a blood-splattered hotel. The man turns into a skinless monster, which he shoots in the face, followed by a muttered, "Shit." A couple minutes after that, a woman is blown up from the waist down by another of these monsters.
- Rule of Cool: Loaded with it. Any time one of the nonsensical and yet awesome facets of this game makes you ask "Why?", this is usually at least the immediate answer.
- Rule of Seven: Harman's seven personalities (hence the name of the syndicate), and seven rings with unique properties and powers. The game is also divided into seven chapters.
- Rule of Symbolism: The game has several examples of this. From The Yakumo references in the early chapters, to the whole plot being subtly developed as a Cosmic Chess Game, to allusions to World War II, to the flag capture allusion in the last chapter, etc.
- Running Gag: Garcian's answering machine. It's Spy Speak used by Christopher Mills to tell him to meet him at the overpass."Hello, Mr. Smith, the election is drawing near, have you decided on your vote? If you haven't, please let the Republic Party make the most of your precious vote, thank you and have a nice day."
- Russian Roulette: Garcian does this against Benjamin Keane. After Benjamin mocks Garcian thinking he lost, Garcian points out one major oversight. "This gun holds seven bullets."
- Sad Battle Music: The second phase of the boss fight against Greg Nightmare trades the Boss Remix of the Coburn Elementary level (heard in the first phase) for a very solemn organ-based composition that signals the inevitable defeat of all the Smiths except Garcian (and he can still join them if the player doesn't react quickly enough to grab the Golden Gun and kill the last remaining Heaven Smile and then Greg himself).
- Sadistic Choice: Presented to the player at the end of the game: kill Matsuoka, and the US will nuke Japan off the face of the planet; spare him, and Japan will attack the US, triggering World War III.
- Save Point: The game has the rooms where Harman and a good-mood Samantha (the latter being replaced by Steward after her death) are. You talk to Samantha and she points the remote control to the TV, enabling the option to save. In the rooms where Samantha is in bad mood, no save option is present (the other features are still present, namely picking a persona including Garcian and leveling up a character with the collected blood).
- School Setting Simulation: The sixth chapter, "Smile", takes the Smiths to the Coburn Elementary School during the second half. Here, they're looking for the Ministry of Education, Greg Nightmare, but there are no children as the place is being visited during night. Several cassettes can be found, and have the recordings of a deceased FBI agent who was researching about the life of one of the school's former students, Emir Parkreiner (the past life of Garcian Smith). The boss is Greg Nightmare himself, who is revealed to have been Dead All Along.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: During "Encounter", when Garcian asks if he should go after Curtis Blackburn, Harman dismisses him as "just a punk with a gun" and says Dan is more than Curtis can handle. Garcian, however, is appalled at Curtis's practice of abducting orphans and harvesting their organs, and goes after Curtis anyway.
- Scripted Battle: The Handsome Men, in the chapter Alter Ego. The fight takes place as a series of one-on-one duels between the members, and the Handsome Men only attack when you do, meaning that the same characters win every time (and the final match between Garcian and Handsome Pink is interrupted by a cutscene.)
- Secret Character: Young Harman. After beating the game once on any difficulty, you can go back and re-play the game in killer8 mode, which gives you access to the previously unavailable character, whose huge amount of health and tommy-gun make him overpowered. You'll need him though, since the only difficulty level available for killer8 mode is Bloodbath, where enemies take obtuse amounts of damage, give almost no blood at all, and have invisible weak points.
- See You in Hell: This is Curtis' final line in Encounter after his defeat; though in his case, it is apparently meant literally.
- Sequence Breaking: Coburn Elementary School gives you access to nearly the entire level immediately, with the gimmick being gathering information throughout the building to solve the puzzles at the end. If you know all the answers or have a guide on hand, you can skip nearly the entire level and beeline straight to the final battles, turning it into the shortest level in the game outside of Battleship Island.
- Two minor characters are from Suda's past games, Edo Macalister from Flower, Sun and Rain and Mithra from Moonlight Syndrome. The entire structure of the game and many of its plot concepts are taken from The Silver Case; it would be futile to try and list every self-reference here, as they quickly leave the territory of Shout-Out and instead start to resemble pieces of the same body of work (although it's easily determined that they can't take place on the same timeline).
- Some of Dan's suits look like Spike Spiegel's and Lupin's.
- A blatant one with Harman's "Tricks are for kids, Kun."
- At one point, Susie references Daddy-Long-Legs.
- Numerous The Smiths song titles are used at some point in the game, which is natural given the names of the protagonists.
- Travis' s in Alter Ego are all named after songs by the music group Quruli.
- Although not stated in the game or book, instead being relegated to magazine articles, the weapon names of the protagonists are all also named after songs by punk rock bands, sometimes even tying the character in with the lyrics.
- Ayame Blackburn's battle theme is titled Sweet Blue Flag. In Ninja Sentai Kakuranger, the leader of the Hanarangers was named Ayame and given the title of Blue Sweet Flag. (In both cases, this is also a reference to the meaning of Ayame.)
- Johnny's carrier pigeons are all named after Bond girls.
- The end credits in Alter Ego show Con Smith as a Red Arremer and Dan in a Saturday Night Fever suit and dance pose.
- Signature Laugh: The Smiles' laugh differently pending on their actions (hiding nearby, getting shot, blowing up...) and type (Poison Smiles laugh in reverse when getting up, Cammelia Smiles have a bizarre holler, etc.).
- The Silent Bob: Kevin Smith, appropriately enough. The creators claim they weren't familiar with the real-life director. But like the real-life person, Kevin is definitely stoic and silent, which comes handy alongside his invisibility power to avoid being detected by the Heaven Smiles.
- Silliness Switch: There's a secret game mode titled hopper7, where the only available difficulty level is Face The Swarm, and most of the enemies are replaced with giant grasshoppers that die in one hit. Unfortunately, only one level is available in this mode, and you have to beat the game once, then beat it again on Bloodbath difficulty in killer8 mode, to unlock it.
- Sinister Silhouettes: Starting each mission shows the main target as a silhouette.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: The ending is quite cynical.Kun Lan: Harman, the world won't change. All it does is turn.
- Smart People Play Chess: Harman Smith and Kun Lan play chess while not engaging in their neverending conflict. Kun Lan only rarely wins, though.Harman Smith: Nothing has changed for 30 years. No matter how many times you try, the result will be the same.
Kun Lan: Ahh, yes. Like our chess games, you always seem to win.
Harman Smith: Do you know why?
Kun Lan: You tell me.
Harman Smith: Because you're a bad player.
- Sniper Pistol: KAEDE Smith's long-barreled semi-auto with a scope. Some characters lampshade this and the supernatural nature of the Smiths may somewhat justify it, as she's apparently the only person in the whole world who can shoot like that (and yet she still fumbles with the magazine every time she has to reload).
- Sociopathic Hero: Dan Smith. He's by no means a role model, being a cold-blooded assassin on top of being foul-mouthed. However, he does mean well, and is determined to put an end to Curtis Blackburn's life and his sordid business with human organs.
- Solve the Soup Cans: Several instances when it comes to searching for the shells that give access to the boss rooms. Somewhat parodied by the name of the "Odd Engravings", which don't even try to justify their existence in the world.
- Sound-Coded for Your Convenience: Every enemy laughs when they spawn. This is useful because they're normally invisible until you press a button to scan for them.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: "Greensleeves" over a murder scene, loud techno as you're walking down a completely ordinary hall; it goes on.
- Speaking Simlish: Subverted with the Remnant Psyches. At first, it sounds like they're talking in distorted gibberish, but in the original Japanese it's instead various Synthetic Voice Actors speaking in machine-translated Gratuitous English (as heard here,) and the overseas releases added extra filters over their voices to make them sound more garbled.
- Split Personality:
- The Smiths; it's on the box cover. But when it comes to whose personality they split from, Covers Always Lie. However, they're not regular split personalities, instead being examples of something called Multifoliate Personae Phenomenon, which is why they're seemingly able to physically manifest. To make matters even crazier about the history of the Smiths, the supplementary material seem to say that they were already dead when Emir killed them, and Harman had been using them as split personalities as the Killer7 syndicate. So, they've been killed at least twice, can apparently manifest themselves separately from one another, and can be endlessly resurrected by Garcian/Emir. And Samantha used to be one, but isn't anymore, so it's apparently possible for a personality to leave and regain their body... somehow.
- Samantha at least comes off as an example, switching between Meido and Alpha Bitch depending on whether or not the lights are on. Same with Yoon-Hyun, who puts on a mask to switch from his cordial demeanor to the abrasive True Mask.
- Split-Personality Team: The game uses this as a gameplay mechanic, with all the Smiths playing differently, using different weapons, and having different skills despite being split personalities of one man (the twist being that the one man is not the one that we think. They even appear to change form when they switch personalities and have their own health meters.
- Spy Speak: Christopher Mills uses this to get in contact with Garcian Smith. Whenever he has a new assignment for him, he leaves a message on his answering machine, pretending to be calling around on behalf of the Republic Party (to prevent wire tapping), which serves as a signal for Harman to come see him at the overpass.
- The Stinger: There are two. First, after the credits roll, an epilogue chapter called "Lion" is shown. After completing that, a scene plays that completes the Book Ends and shows that Harman and Kun Lan's personal war will never end.
- Straight Gay: Kevin Smith had a romantic relationship with another man according to companion book Hand in killer7, although you wouldn't know this by just playing the game.
- Suicide by Assassin: This turns out to be the plot of the Cloudman chapter. When Andrei Ulmeyda gets Garcian alone, he reveals that he challenged the Smiths on national TV because he wanted Garcian to kill him if he became a Heaven Smile. Sure enough, the US Army ends up forcing your hand when they try to take him in.
- Suspiciously Apropos Music: In "Alter Ego", there is a street musician that plays a song ("Find your soul / find your place / then you'll find your way") that hints at the solution to one of the level's puzzles ( only one persona, Con, is able to navigate his way through a maze).
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Gary Wanderers, the Steward, who replaces Samantha after she is killed by Harman. Even Hand in Killer7 notes that "fans of Samantha will doubtlessly be disappointed by him".
- Take It to the Bridge: Garcian meets with Christopher Mills, his contact for the jobs taken by the killer7, on an overpass. Close enough.
- Terrorists Without a Cause: The Heaven Smiles, identified by the opening narrator as "terrorism for the sole purpose of causing terror". In the first chapter there's some talk from the Angel of them being "chosen" and "having a purpose in life", but that purpose turns out to simply be eradicating everyone who isn't one of them; even Suda in an interview described the Angel as merely a "throwaway gag" from Kun Lan.
- Theme Naming:
- All of Johnny's carrier pigeons are named after Bond girls.
- Iwazaru, his handler Kikazaru, and his ex-wife Mizaru. Their names mean, respectively, "Speak no evil", "Hear no evil", and "See no evil."
- This Is Gonna Suck: Dan's intro has him muttering this trope after he blows the head off a Heaven Smile and realizes that their intel was wrong.Dan Smith: Shit! There's more than 14. (spits) Those bastards are breeding.
- Third Eye: Emir Parkreiner, a person greatly foreshadowed throughout the game, has one, and the eye itself is foreshadowed along with it, most of which also double to the foreshadowing that Garcian is Emir. When the duel between the two personalities happen, Garcian needs to shoot Emir's third eye.
- Thrill Seeker: Andrei Ulmeyda lives his life in this manner; in the past he injected himself with several deadly viruses, overcame them, and sold his blood as vaccines, and in the present, he partakes in what he calls "driving yourself to death", in which he simply picks out one of his subordinates,gifts them a high-speed Cool Car, and lets them drive it as fast as they can, just to see if they survive.
- Tomato in the Mirror: All the Smiths are actually Garcian's split personalities. Furthermore, Garcian is actually Emir, the dangerous assassin of legend who killed the rest of the Smiths.
- Trailers Always Lie:
- This trailer, from way back in 2003, is particularly interesting as virtually none of the dialogue or cutscenes in it appear in the game itself.
- An article in a gaming magazine prior to the game's release stated that the characters would each have different abilities than what made it into the game:
- KAEDE was supposed to be able to kill the Smiles by raining blood down on them, like she does with the barriers. It was supposedly because she had some kind of toxin in her system.
- Coyote was supposed to be able to preform a roundhouse kick, that would clear a room full of Smiles.
- The Unfought: Many antagonists during the endgame, most notably Kun Lan himself, excepting a battle with an angel projection early on in the game. Others include Trevor Pearlharbor and Handsome Pink, and of the other antagonists, several end up being a Cutscene Boss (Handsome Black, Benjamin Keane) or Zero-Effort Boss (The rest of the Handsome Men, Emir Parkreiner, Kenjiro Matsuoka, the Last Shot Smile) anyway. It's like the game adamantly refusing to give you a proper climactic boss battle.
- Universe Compendium: Hand in killer7 resembles one of these for the game, but it contains a good deal of original information, some of which is contradictory or omits key details. In practice, it's more like a work of its own that must be decoded by the viewer, an extension of the game rather than just a compilation of info.
- Unorthodox Reload: Con bounces empty magazines off his knees and slaps new ones in with his feet. Garcian and MASK appear to manifest new magazines/rounds from their hips. Dan and Coyote seem to use speedloaders, which is fine — except Coyote's spent casings pop right out of their own volitionnote . And instead of slapping them in like the boys, KAEDE carefully slides her magazines into place like a good sniper — but she also fumbles with them when reloading while aiming. Then you get Dan and MASK's upgrades, both of which speed up their reloads by letting them skip the part where they actually put in new rounds.
- Use Your Head: In Sunset, Mask De Smith stops a bullet by headbutting it out of the air.
- Vicious Cycle: No matter who wins each time, Harman and Kun Lan begin the game again in a hundred years. Worse still, their condescending attitude towards Young Harman and cordial attitude with eachother implies that it's not even vicious for them - they just get bored every few hundred years and decide to play with humanity.
- The Voiceless: Kevin Smith never makes a sound other than the noise of him throwing a knife. He doesn't even grunt when the enemies explode on him. Hand in Killer7 says that his voice can summon gods.
- Wake-Up Call Boss: Kurahashi and Akiba are quite a bit harder to deal with than Angel.
- The Walrus Was Paul: Many believe the entirety of the game's plot to be an extreme example of this.
- War Is Hell: Suda 51 states that one of the messages of the game is about the futile, cyclic nature of war. Emphasized by the ending: the entire conflict between Harman and Kunlan is nothing but a game meant to help the two immortals pass the time. The two have even switched roles.
- Warm-Up Boss: The Speed Smile. Though it's actually slow in its approach, this Smile jerks its head around very quickly and constantly, making hitting the weak point in its head difficult. The trick is that the Speed Smile moves its head to one of three set positions as it approaches, making predicting its next move and lining up a killing shot possible. This also sets up the rules of the Vinculum Gate: the only way to defeat Vinculum Gate bosses is to hit their weak points.
- Wave-Motion Gun: Dan Smith's Collateral Shot. It's the only thing that can kill the Heaven Smile hives and it uses all the bullets in his gun and three vials of blood.
- Weaponized Offspring: Duplicator and Mother Smiles lay eggs that roll towards the player. They hatch if they get close to the player, or if they're shot, turning into a vanilla Action Bomb Heaven Smile.
- We Cannot Go On Without You: Garcian is the only character who can revive the others. If he dies, the game ends automatically. Justified, because all of the alternate personalities of the Smith Syndicate stem from him, and his death means they all die as well.
- Weird Moon: At the beginning of every chapter (or while loading a save file) the moon is shown pulsing and shaking to an ominous soundtrack, often appearing in strange colors like red or purple.
- Wham Line:
- Sunset, right off the bat after the opening, gives a scene that cultimates in this:Spencer: "Mr. President? This is Spencer speaking, sir. 200 pulsars have been fired towards Japan."
- Why did Ulmeyda ask the assassins to find him?Ulmeyda: "I...I...I want you to kill me. If I catch Heaven Smile, you gotta kill me! I heard you're the only one who can kill them!"
- In Smile, Part 1, we get this:Mills: "...OK. 30 years ago, you and Harman -" Mills proceeds to get shot multiple times before the line can be finished.
- Sunset, right off the bat after the opening, gives a scene that cultimates in this:
- Wham Shot:
- The game gets one at the end of the Alter-Ego chapter. The first two chapters have set up Kun Lan and the mystery of the Heaven's Smiles as very important, but then for the next three chapters they kind of take a back-seat as the Smiths deal with stuff like a crazy cult leader, another assassin, and team of super-sentai parodies. The very last shot at the end of the chapter is Kun Lan over a red screen, reaching for the camera, to remind you he's still around, and warn you that the next chapter is all about him and the Smiles again.
- The very next chapter, Smile, has one at the very beginning, where you enter Harman's room to find Samantha dead and Harman nowhere in sight.
- World War III: Depending on the player's decision at the end of the final chapter (Lion), Japan may attack the US and trigger WWIII. The alternative is having Japan nuked off the face of the planet.
- Wrestler in All of Us: Mask de Smith was a luchadore before becoming an assassin, and still breaks out wrestling moves on occasion. In one scene, he does a suplex to a pile of rubble and even has the ability to headbutt a bullet all in the same cutscene!
- You Can Run, but You Can't Hide: Travis quotes this about Pedro unable to escape the actions he's committed.
- Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: Smile, Part 1 pulls this at the end. The whole level has various characters building up this chapter as the big climactic finish, and when you finally get to the end of the stage, instead of finding the person you were looking for, you instead find two shadowy figures ( Young Harman and Dmitri Nightmare) who just dismissively tell you he's not here and you should go somewhere else.
- Zero-Effort Boss:
- The battle against the Handsome Men is predetermined; the Smiths will always win 4 - 3, though there is considerable symbolism and foreshadowing in the fight. For example: Harman is a Decoy Protagonist to Garcian, much like how Handsome Red, Harman's opponent, is one to Handsome Pink, Garcian's opponent.
- The Final Boss, Greg Nightmare, is the type that's very, very hard to lose to (provided you can figure out that Garcian can pick up the Golden Gun). The Post Final Bosses, Emir Parkreiner and the Last Shot Smile, cannot be lost to.
Kun Lan: Harman. The world won't change. All it does is turn. Now, let's dance.