Game Info:

Developed By: Team Ninja/Koei Tecmo Games
Published By: Koei Tecmo Games
Release Date: March 1, 2019
Available On: Windows, PS4, Xbox One
Genre: Fighting
Number of Players: 1-2
ESRB Rating: M for Blood, Language, Sexual Themes, Violence
MSRP: $59.99
(Humble Store Link)

Thank you Koei Tecmo for sending us this game to review!

The fighting game genre has long been synonymous with girls in skimpy outfits. From Cammy’s thong leotard in Super Street Fighter 2 to various well-endowed characters from Killer Instinct and the Soul series, there is a long history of these games depicting women in such ways. But perhaps no fighting game series became synonymous with large-breasted women and jiggle physics quite like Dead or Alive.

In earlier installments, such physics were clearly over-the-top and ridiculous. When I was much younger, I remember seeing the game on display at my local arcade and thinking 'this is stupid, I'll never play this' and moving on to other fare on offer. It's not that I would never play games with exaggerated-looking girls, as I did play plenty of Killer Instinct, but the way they were depicted back then was frankly embarrassing. I didn't want to be seen playing a game like that (and who said shame can't be a good thing).

Moving forward to 2019, fighting games have had a massive renaissance. Street Fighter V is a huge and popular game (along with the excellent 30th Anniversary Edition representing the classics), Mortal Kombat keeps releasing new versions, Tekken is back with its seventh installment, Killer Instinct has a great modern update, and SoulCalibur VI is a fantastic entry in that series as well, with smooth motion and amazing 3D graphics. The fighting game audience has also grown up as well, as those teenagers in the 1990s are now all grown up with kids of their own, and may not appreciate what Dead or Alive used to offer in the same way.

So now, we have Koei Tecmo, the owners of the franchise, stuck between the proverbial rock and hard place.  They want to keep their existing fans, who may prefer the depicted excesses of the female form as is, and also hope to draw in new fans who may not have that same appreciation.  Team Ninja has stated that they have eSports aspirations with the series, so having a more respectable presentation is important.


Strong Points: Mechanically interesting and excellent fighter; simple to play, difficult to master; excellent graphics and effects in-battle; lots of characters to choose from
Weak Points: Season Pass DLC is priced higher than the game; some video and interface assets look pixelated/low quality on a 4K display; 3D movement doesn't seem to dodge attacks like I hoped it would
Moral Warnings: Significant animated violence; some blood splatters, which can be disabled with an option; some females have breasts that jiggle (this seems to depend on the character/outfit); some optional outfits are quite ridiculous, with little left to the imagination (most default ones are fine); significant cleavage and underwear visible in many fights; some male characters are topless; one character is a tengu (a supernatural creature like a demon) and others have mystical powers; words 'd*mn', 'sh*t', and 'h*ll' used

Does it succeed? Well, sort of. Some characters are indeed fairly modest, while others, like Honoka, Nyotengu, and Tina, far less so. All of the jiggle physics are more realistic now, with actual gravity controlling the movement. As such, it's not quite as bombastic as it used to be. But, there are still situations where Honoka jumps up and down in her intro segment, and as such, breasts are jiggled. Also, some characters (again, Honoka being an example) wear skirts that can be flipped up or seen under depending on the situation, so underwear is visible. There are also several females with skin tight clothes or other revealing outfits, with lots of exposed skin or cleavage. Optional outfits often leave little to the imagination.

Thankfully, male characters, and conservatively dressed females, can be played as well. Some males are topless. Everyone has unlockable outfits, with some available through DLC purchases, though most can be unlocked through normal play. As you go, you earn points that can be used to unlocked different hairstyles, sunglasses, and other things in the customization menu. How quickly this can be done is still being tweaked by the developer, as a hotfix was posted just yesterday (as of this writing) tweaking how many points you earn for each task.

Fighting itself is actually quite interesting and lots of fun. It is a mostly side-by-side fighter, with rotational movement, which is very similar to Tekken or SoulCalibur. Unlike some fighting games, the actions themselves, or the input combinations to perform various actions, are relatively simple. There are punch, kick, hold, throw, and special attack buttons. Most actions are a combination of those and directional inputs, though a few do include quarter-circle actions. In general though, this game is more about knowing how and when to respond to attacks, including a deep and complex counter system, rather than expecting players to perfect complex inputs in order to defeat their opponents with powerful moves. This makes it easy for newcomers to play, yet also deep enough to foster plenty of advanced play. You win by draining the health bar of your opponent for as many rounds as required for victory.

There are several game modes available, with limited online play currently, as only ranked play is available now. (Unranked lobby play will be released in a patch in a few weeks.) Single or local modes include training, arcade, versus, survival, story mode, and a unique DOA Quest. Arcade and versus modes are just what you expect, and are very similar to pretty much every other fighting game, where you play one enemy after another until you beat them all (arcade) or play a single match of your choice against the computer or a local friend with another controller.

Training mode is actually quite excellent, as each moveset is carefully walked through, with the game teaching you each and every combo and showing you what buttons you must press, as well as whether or not you succeed. If you want to be competitive online, be sure to spend some time here.

Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 88%
Gameplay  - 17/20
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 9/10
Stability - 4/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 73%
Violence - 7.5/10
Language - 8/10
Sexual Content - 6/10
Occult/Supernatural - 5/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

Story mode is where little cut scenes (that are rendered at much lower resolution than my 4K display supports) are shown in between matches that tell the story of the characters, and why they are fighting. Some are there purely to win the Dead or Alive 6 tournament, while others are trying to protect their friends, rescue them, perform some diabolical deed, or sometimes less serious motivations, like finding the ultimate alcoholic drink. (One of the characters practices a drunken fighting style.)

DOA Quest is a really neat mode where you play matches with specific objectives to complete, and you are rewarded with points to unlock things. While you can get these points in other ways, this is by far the quickest and easiest. What I found really neat is that the aforementioned training mode is integrated perfectly into this one. Let's say a requirement for a stage is to pull off a certain combo. If you press the appropriate button, you can launch training mode and see the exact requirement spelled out for you, so you can practice before the match. I was really impressed with the thought that went into this mode. The game really trains you for more advanced combat by doing this, which is a huge plus.

Though most appropriateness issues have already been covered, including female garb and an emphasis on alluring movements, drunkenness, and violence, there is a bit more. There is the occasional blood visible, which can be turned off via a setting. One of the characters is a tengu, which is basically a variation on demons. Several characters have ninja powers, including manipulating energy and teleporting. In this area, I would say it's not as bad as most fighting games, though. The words 'd*mn', 'sh*t', and 'h*ll' are also used.

The graphics and sound are quite excellent, at least in battle. The cut scenes are of a mediocre quality at best, and the menu fonts look kind of low resolution on a 4K screen. (I just got this screen recently though, so it may be more common than I am used to.) The sound effects are great, but some of the voice acting is not the greatest. Nevertheless, in the stages, everything looks and plays fantastically.

DEAD OR ALIVE 6 is my first entry in this series to really spend any reasonable time with. Despite the 'character flaws', I can clearly understand why it has endured all of these years after all. The fighting system is fast, fun, and easy to play while being difficult to master. For hardcore fighting game fans, it's easy to recommend. And yet, please be mindful of not only the appropriateness issues listed above, but the shockingly expensive season pass on offer (it costs more than the game does). In time, Koei Tecmo has promised that you will be able to buy characters and outfits individually. But for now, if you must have absolutely everything, be prepared to pay.

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Jason Gress

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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