Killer Frequency PS5 Review – Whistle Why You Work

Set in Gallows Creek, 1987, radio DJ Forrest Nash has an eventful night up ahead in story-driven puzzle game, Killer Frequency.

Killer Frequency? Killer title. Put two and two together (spoiler: they equal four), and you might surmise that this new game from Team17 might be a platformer where you play a murderous subwoofer on a rampage to kill sound engineers on the planet Hertz. Close, but no cigar.

While you might predict an upcoming indie game, this title is a first-person puzzler with a narrative-driven perspective. You play a high-flying radio DJ called Forrest Nash, who receives Hot Fuzz treatment and is demoted to Nowheresville to host a late-night slot on The Scream.

Set in the fictitious Gallows Creek, Killer Frequency is based in the late 80s – quite significant to the gameplay as there are no mobile phones, and this is very relevant as Forrest will be saving callers live on-air who are being hunted by a serial killer. Gulp!

Killer Frequency PS5 Review - No dead air
No dead air. Source: PR

Killer Frequency PS5 Review

The game starts within the radio station, and producer Peggy shows Forrest the ropes. Hidden behind an ominously-coloured glass panel, she speaks through your headphones, guiding you through the steps on how to broadcast (you know this, you’re a DJ), but as a player, you need it as it’s initially fiddly – especially with a controller.

Forrest is free to move around the studio, offering a better perspective for operating machinery and answering QTE-style questions that pop up in a fixed dialogue menu. As you can imagine, you must be relatively quick to respond, as it can be a life-or-death outcome. 

Killer Frequency has a perfectly explainable scenario: Gallows Creek only has three coppers – one is on holiday, and something has happened to the sheriff. The deputy calls through, live, and asks Forrest for assistance getting them (and others) through the night. How? She patches all emergency calls to the station for you to answer as you are best equipped to assist.

Killer Frequency PS5 Review - I can fix it
I can fix it. Source: PR

Now, Hear This

Yes, I was being facetious – Killer Frequency is a little far-fetched, and that’s not the first thing that seems out of place, as the puzzles are pretty damn tricky when you’re trying to broadcast a show and juggle the controls with two items in your hands, swapping them back and forth. On paper, this sounds monotonous, absurd, and one to avoid, but I’m still typing: it’s entertaining – primarily because of the dialogue.

Forrest represents us in the story, and the voice actor was spot-on, as was his mentor, Peggy. The relationship isn’t too distant to Firewatch. Some third-party characters deliver a few unbelievable reactions where you wonder whether some callers are in danger – they’re so blas√©! Still, the characters and the ominious ‘The Whistling Man’ of the story were excellent.

The puzzles in Killer Frequency involve helping a caller escape a situation by guiding them through a set piece. Often this means searching around the station for clues and then answering questions. The 3D element and exploration weren’t as good, and often it’s a case of wandering around, picking up an object and spinning it without any purpose other than saying, “Ooh, nice visuals”. Which is fair – Killer Frequency has a cell shade style, and while you won’t fill your pants, it serves the story (but a little too dark – I had to raise the brightness).

First-Time Caller

Despite a short playtime (arguably one sitting or two), Killer Frequency can be frustrating because it’s not always clear what to do, and it doesn’t help with the controls. If you have the option, a mouse-based experience, or even the VR version, would be better. You get used to it, but as stated, you have to respond quickly to some sections, and depending on whether you’re trying to unlock all the achievements, you may want to be alert.

There are multiple endings in the game, and it’s not always clear how to save someone (or have them killed – bwah ha ha!), so expect some repeat playthroughs, which are welcome. Do note that you can’t skip dialogue, so on repeat runs, so you’ll be familiar with all the timings – possibly an advantage as you might get around to playing all the records that Forrest has access to.

Verdict

Inspired by 80s slasher films, Killer Frequency isn’t a horror game per se, and if you’re prone to jump scares, you can mildly relax knowing it’s not the type. That isn’t to say there isn’t tension as the conversations are often entertaining, the puzzles engaging, and those elusive achievements of saving everyone… all in one night.