When you play so many horror games, it’s hard to find something that attempts something truly new. We do see them pop up, and many often spawn new sub-genres, but most of the time games tend to fit into a particular mould. That’s not a bad thing as I like most of those moulds, but that doesn’t stop it from being particularly exciting when you see a completely new premise.

Killer Frequency is like nothing I’ve ever played before. In parts it feels like a walking simulator with its focus on narrative and straightforward puzzles, and in others it feels like Five Nights at Freddy’s with the singular work station; however, describing it as either would really be an injustice as this feels more like a playable Slasher movie – except you’re not the one that’s in trouble!

The game almost pulls it off too, with some slight caveats.

Many thanks to Team17 for the review code.


Things aren’t going all too well for Forrest Nash, the host of Gallows’ Creek’s radio show 189.16 – The Scream. He used to be a big time DJ for a show in Chicago, but has now been relocated to nowheresville in the graveyard slot. It’s a real fall from grace and he knows it. Going from millions of listeners to barely scraping double figures hurts a lot, and he kinda resents it.

All that changes one night after getting a call from the town’s sole 911 operator, Leslie, who has just found the Sheriff dead and the other cop unconscious in a cell. Don’t worry the town doesn’t have only two police officers. The other one is on vacation. With the phone lines out of town down and the return of a presumed-dead serial killer on the loose, she’s left with no other choice than to travel to the neighbouring town for help and leave you in charge. You are just a civilian, but you’re an expert in taking calls and there’s not much in the way of options at this time of night.

It’s a pretty ludicrous premise, but the town’s backwater status does help to just about sell it to you. This is further aided by the great interactions that you’ll have with the characters in the game. With some mostly solid writing and voice acting, it really helps you get invested into the plight of this small town. It’s not all great, with some drunken frat boys and your associate Peggy being especially irritating, but the rest of the cast – especially Forrest – shines through the occasional cringe. 


The core gameplay loop of the game is surprisingly very simple: as the host of a late night radio show and the 911 operator, you’ll be playing records and taking calls Some calls are from people calling into the show (or Pronty’s Pizza trying to get some free advertising), but the vast majority are 911 calls. With the serial killer known as The Whistling Man on the loose, many of the town’s residents will end up under threat.

Thankfully, our masked killer likes to helpfully whistle to let people know that they’re in the vicinity, thus allowing potential victims enough time to phone 911 for help. Their situations are all different, but you’ll need to chat with them and give advice. This may involve making dialogue choices based on what is logically a good idea, or providing more specific advice using stuff lying around the radio shack. These latter puzzles are where the game shines, as you rummage through garbage cans looking for discarded pizza to work out where a frat house may have ordered from, or taking vehicle manuals from another show’s table to help someone hotwire a car. Guide them well, and they may just evade their pursuer.

These moments are pretty intense and can result in the life of death of the person on the other end of the phone. One particularly fantastic encounter has you making Mass Effect 2 style decisions about the best person to do each task with the hope that everything runs smoothly. You can’t see anything from your side of the conversation, yet it is still surprisingly more engaging than it sounds.

None of the puzzles are particularly hard, and the game doesn’t seem to have much of a timer in which to solve each task, meaning that you probably won’t find yourself too challenged. I had only one person die throughout my playthrough, but that was down to my own laziness rather than being particularly difficult. It would have been nice to have some more stressful situations to help up the ante and make the serial killer seem more deadly than they end up being.


Aside from helping people with phone calls, you’ll also be playing music and this is unfortunately where some of the game’s problems become slightly more noticeable. Before any of the action kicks off and you’re just playing music, it really hits how clunky the controls are in the game. There are far too many buttons that fail to have any real functionality, and the game does a poor job at explaining them. The simple task of placing a record isn’t just a matter of pressing the action button  – you’ll need to hit the LT button to actually place it on the turntable. Even opening doors works like in Amnesia: The Dark Descent where you hold the trigger and swing the stick in the appropriate direction. Not a bad mechanic in itself, but absolutely pointless in a game where you only really pick up things and press buttons.

What’s even worse is how finnicky it can be to interact with a lot of the common objects. Rifling through records is a lot harder than it should be as it requires very fine movement if you want to flick through individually, and pressing the call button (something you need to do a lot) always feels like a pain due to the button being so tiny and the cursor not moving very smoothly. Perhaps if the game didn’t have all those unnecessary button functions, perhaps it could have used one to lock onto items or select individual discs. Given the rather relaxed nature of the gameplay, it doesn’t ruin the game too much, but I found myself tiring of trying to hit the call button almost immediately.

If relaxed seems to be an odd word to describe a horror game, then you’re absolutely right. That’s because the game isn’t really horror at all. All the terror comes from the other side of the phone line, and you’re only really there to help them through. But you know what, that’s absolutely fine. This is an 80s themed slasher film, but from the perspective of the 911 operator, and it nails that vibe perfectly. Even if the killer’s design is about as scary as a bunny with the word ‘boo’ written across its forehead.


Whilst there may not be that much to the gameplay outside of some simple puzzles and conversational choices, the small backward town of Gallows’ Creek is still quite compelling as you spend time conversing with its inhabitants. Killer Frequency may not be much of a horror title, but it’s a refreshing take on the genre as it takes a stab at being a playable Slasher flick.