Games make for great murder mysteries by putting the players in charge of unraveling the clues.
Killer Frequency is one of the best in recent memory. Coming to us from Team 17 and Fireshine Games, this 1980s slasher puts you in the shoes of a Radio DJ who somehow winds up becoming a call-man for emergency services.
Forrest Nash has arrived in the small, remote, sleepy town of Gallows Creek after a big city job went wrong. Nash has seen and done it all in his career, previously playing for millions of listeners, now just shouting out to listeners in the double figures.
He’s been partnered up with Penny, an experienced Producer who fields all the incoming calls and keeps the conversation flowing in the quiet moments. While they’re on air, both take a call from the Police Station, hearing that the Chief has been murdered.
The 911 operator has to go and find help, which means they can’t cover the lines and are asking the hosts at KFAM Radio to do the honors. And this leads Nash and Penny into all kinds of unexpected, perilous, scenarios.
Turns out the Police Chief has been murdered by The Whistling Man, a re-emerging killer from thirty years previous who terrorised Gallows Creek. The question as to how or why the killer has picked now to strike is all part and parcel of the mystery. And you’re all that stands between their next set of victims and certain death.
As Nash, you’ll have to talk scared, nervous callers through everything from navigating mazes to stemming a blood flow after a stabbing. You’ll have to find relevant documentation scattered around the KFAM offices that will help you help others, like First Aid documentation, to large-scale maps that help you navigate the sleepy town.
The game does a good job of making each situation feel fresh and challenging, making you think on your feet with quick time events, while also sometimes giving you time to reflect on the individual challenges and think puzzles through.
With the game also being built for VR, you can at times find the experience a bit debilitating in flat with the player sometimes getting too close to dialogue choices, making them hard to read. Navigation also sometimes feels a little stunted and interaction with objects is clearly best suited for the more free-hand style of VR.
But this is a great game, regardless of how and where you choose to play it. The story is compelling enough to keep you invested, you feel suitable tension being locked up in the old radio station late at night, wandering around the basements and seemingly abandoned offices, never sure who you might bump into.
The latter stages of the game do start to feel a bit padded, with the conclusion perhaps not quite as satisfying as the beginning of the game leads us to expect, but Killer Frequency kept me playing right through to the end, eager to find out what kind of scrapes I’d be called upon to help with next, or where the next clue might take me.
Killer Frequency also has a great self-awareness and sense of humor, with Nash and Penny’s back and forth giving me strong Firewatch vibes. With Nash’s natural charisma and cheeky attitude, and Penny’s biting comebacks, the leads gel together well and their comradary is what really helps drive the story forward as they work together to do the impossible.
And a word on the soundtrack, which has a wonderful chilling 80s vibe to it and helps break up the action nicely as you alternate life-saving escapades with doing general DJ duty like playing ads, adjusting dials, and taking requests live on air. The concept surprisingly matches up perfectly and offers some fun for players as much as it does suspense.
If you fancy a really unique spin on a slasher that offers up some of the best writing I’ve seen this year, in a tale that has some great twists and turns and a killer soundtrack, you’re going to have a great time with this one.
Killer Frequency has a cool, unique concept that matches up together surprisingly well and is led by a cast of engaging, interesting characters who gel beautifully. The scenarios you work through are smart and clever, there’s a great soundtrack to play through, and the plot and gradual exploration of your station keeps you invested. A padded conclusion, and some clashes with VR and flat through interactivity and navigation do hold this back a bit, but this was still a great trip that we were glad to take.
+ Great, connecting leads who drive the story wonderfully
+ Killer 80s inspired soundtrack
+ A hit for VR
+ Smart scenarios to solve and save potential victims
– Interactivity feels a bit clunky in flat
– Conclusion feels slightly padded and not as satisfying as we’d hoped
Killer Frequency is out now on PC, VR and Consoles.
Code Kindly Provided by Team 17 for review purposes
Played on PS5