Killer Frequency Review (PS5) – There’s a killer on the loose and you’re just trying to get through a night shift as a small-town DJ. Discover if Team17 Digital’s unique horror comedy adventure is a smooth operator in PlayStation Universe’s Killer Frequency review for PS5.
Killer Frequency Review (PS5) – 80s DJ Horror Leaves Us Radio Ga Ga
I don’t think it would be controversial to state that short-form horror games are doing the heavy lifting for change in the genre while the juggernaut franchises keep returning to the well. The experimentation within the community that creates micro and mini horror game has been of great interest to me because technology and publishers are catching up to the ambitions of these developers.
Their modest success means we get Team17 putting out a horror game as interesting and distinct as Killer Frequency.
On the surface, Killer Frequency doesn’t feel like it should stand out. After all, there’s a pretty comfortable sub-genre of 80s-inspired slasher horror games in the indie space and the premise of this game is essentially bathing in that setup’s juices.
It even features elements of a few of them beyond that, including the mundane work environment turned deadly (I really like that niche though).
Where it first makes itself distinct is in the visual style that gives off a slightly cell-shaded look. It evokes the typical soft brush view of the 1980s, but blends in sharpness and malice underneath.
DJ Forrest Nash has been bumped down from an audience of millions on National radio to working the night shift at KFAM (189.16, The Scream!) in a sleepy small mid-west town known as Gallows Creek. His first night on the job takes a dramatic turn when the alarmingly limited police force alerts Forrest to the return of a supposedly dead serial killer.
With the local authorities otherwise occupied in trying to get some backup, Forrest is left with the dual jobs of presenting a late-night radio show and manning the police switchboard as the killer begins a night of terror that will shape the lives of the town’s residents forever.
Last Night A DJ Saved Some Lives
The first thing to note is that the main hub of Killer Frequency is the radio station itself, and it’s incredibly tactile. Most of what happens plays out in real-time. So when it comes to being a DJ, you’ll have your work cut out for you. There’s records to play, announcements to make, and calls to take. All of which require a delightfully hands-on approach.
The player is gently eased into the workings of the DJ booth before the brown stuff hits the fan. Then you feel much like Forrest does. Someone who is having to juggle a very strange and disturbing situation in real-time.
It begins with just talking to people who call in. Timed choices on how to interact appear and the story and fate of those unseen characters are somewhat decided by Forrest’s words. The overarching objective of Killer Frequency is to keep the townsfolk who call in alive when they’ve run into the killer.
The secondary objective is to try and figure out if this killer is the one of legend or someone else.
This too can be investigated through conversations with callers. This evolves as the game progresses when Nash gets access to more areas of the station so he can search for important items that could save a life or single out a suspect.
Video Game Kills The Radio Star
What I like about this are the things you need to find aren’t just stock standard Key A for Lock B scenarios. For instance, there’s a point where someone calls in and needs to know about hotwiring a car to escape the killer because they’ve lost their keys.
A snoop around unearths a magazine with tips on just that, and Forrest is then able to communicate what steps are needed whilst working against the constant threat of the killer’s presence.
Killer Frequency is full of little moments like this. They aren’t always easy to discover and until I got into the groove of things, I found myself stumbling about trying to figure out what my next step was supposed to be.
Where this escapes frustration of lost time (at least initially) is that the consequences feel free-form in much the same way the death of characters would in a Supermassive Games title. You’re steering a story to a particular conclusion instead of ‘failing’ it.
Of course that lends the game a replay-ability in trying to either save everyone or let it all go to absolute hell. It’s this that adds a truly interesting wrinkle to a second playthrough.
I have to highlight the radio station. As a hub it works well, but it’s the physical interactivity of it that helps it feel like a living space. Flipping through the records, using the radio station deck’s dials and faders at just the right time, and right down to throwing crumpled-up balls of paper into a bin sat at the other end of the room.
It came as no surprise to learn there’s a VR version of this game ( a shame it wasn’t a PSVR 2 version though!) because it seems like it’d work perfectly in that medium.
No Dead Air Here
Killer Frequency doesn’t always glue its vision together seamlessly, but it more than makes up for that by feeling genuinely refreshing. It’s not a particularly visceral horror experience, but it has the tension and entertainment factor required to keep things interesting.
Killer Frequency is now available on PS5 and PS4.
Review code generously provided by publisher.