A lot of my favourite VR games tend to be big action fixes. Games like Population: One or Resident Evil 4. But there are times when I want something different. A VR experience that challenges me to think creatively or a gripping narrative that hooks me with its performance. Sometimes, quite unexpectedly, I encounter both. Weirdly, that just so happened to be inside a radio station, sat on a DJ chair in front of a mic. Welcome to the radio talk show that is this Killer Frequency review.
Killer Frequency isn’t the first VR game to put players live on air, that accolade goes to AREA MAN LIVES. But what it does very well is weaving a serial killer plot around a very simple setup. It’s the late ’80s and you’re a late-night DJ in a very small American town with a dark past. Sat in your booth surrounded by records, ads on cassettes and buttons to play cheesy jingles, you play music and take calls from listeners whilst chatting to your producer Peggy.
Things take a turn for the worst when you get a call saying a murderer is on the loose, killing townsfolk. With the 911 emergency line soon routed through to the station, it’s up to you and Peggy to help save callers. These become literal life-or-death decisions as you try to figure out the best solution to each caller’s predicament.
Burning the candle at both ends
To begin with, Killer Frequency didn’t exactly grab me. Being sat at a DJ desk with a few buttons and switches, listening to Peggy natter away, I failed to see the hook. Because you have to give Killer Frequency time to build momentum due to it being a slow burner.
After an initial familiarisation with the controls – teleportation is set by default, it’s worth swapping to smooth locomotion – you’re given your first “cases”, where callers need your help. This is where you start juggling several aspects of Killer Frequency’s gameplay, putting on songs to cover time away from the booth or suggesting they try various methods to escape. Invariably, most of the solutions involve exploring the radio station for useful info. A pizza box with a handy beer flyer for jocks or a fax machine to send and receive important documents.
Team17’s dark comedy theme can be felt throughout. Yet it was some of the archaic ’80s technology that was most amusing. While most of you will be familiar with vinyl thanks to its recent resurgence – and so it should – how many people remember fax machines? I was certainly thankful that Killer Frequency wasn’t entirely set in the booth. The ability to wander through and unlock other areas of the station kept the experience from going stale.
A thrilling thriller
What makes Killer Frequency come together is the storyline and voice acting. After the first couple of callers, I felt myself drawn further and further into the plot, no matter how ludicrous it got. There’s a genuine flicker of concern when you hear them scurrying around their homes and offices, looking for places to hide. And a sense of dread when the killer’s telltale whistling comes into earshot. It’s as gripping as any episode of CSI.
However, Killer Frequency does suffer from one of my major dislikes in VR games, disappearing hands. Whenever I pick up an object I don’t want my hands to disappear. Meaning the said item is now weirdly floating in the air. It disconnects me from the character and the immersion the game is trying to build. Furthermore, readjusting grip placement becomes an unnecessary issue. This was most noticeable with the cassette tray. Cassettes – and my now invisible hands – would get stuck in the environment because I couldn’t see my hands.
Killer Frequency Review Summary
Killer Frequency has been a welcome surprise from a studio best known for the Worms franchise. It took a little while to get going but once it did, Killer Frequency is thoroughly engrossing. The narrative, voice acting, and audio are expertly balanced, delivering just the right amount of emotion and tension. Graphically, it is nothing to shout about and the remote grip is clunky, but I still enjoyed my time on the airwaves. Killer Frequency‘s pace won’t be for everyone, however, if you love thrillers then don’t miss this.