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Killer Frequency (PS5) Review | Plus PS4 impressions

Back in 2019, Team17 entered the ‘Adventure Jam 2019’ with a short game created by the team in their spare time. The game was, and still is, free and people seemed to love the concept – including many YouTubers – resulting in everyone asking the same question, is there going to be an actual release for the game? Fast-forward to 2023 and we finally have the answer as ‘Killer Frequency‘ launched on all major platforms today, including a single VR platform…

I’ve had the pleasure of playing through the game on the PS5, completing it three times to grab the platinum trophy (only two playthroughs are required, but my first was done without looking at the trophies). Upon finishing the game and grabbing the elusive trophy, I instantly installed the included cross-buy PS4 version and grabbed the platinum in that one as well – Just like those who played the original 2019 version, I wanted more.

So, having both saved and killed everyone multiple times, what was my overall opinion of the experience? Were the puzzles too easy, difficult, obscure, or just right? Also, was there anything I wished was done a little differently, to make the game more immersive and satisfying? Let’s find out…

Killer Frequency 1+1

Radio presenter and 911 operator, yet no pay rise!

The year is 1987, it’s been thirty years since the infamous ‘Whistling Man’ went on a rampage, killing dozens of people before killing himself. On the anniversary of his spree and death, the unimaginable happens, he’s back and on the prowl for new victims! His first point of call is the sheriff, or should that be ex-sheriff (RIP). Thus begins a night of surprises, uncertainty, and mystery – not for the local police department but for the newly-appointed late-night radio host Forrest Nash…

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That’s right – whilst live on air for literally tens of people, you get a call you’d never expect. You’ve been tasked with taking all the 911 calls for the small town of Gallows Creek whilst the remaining police officers seek out help from the neighbouring town. So, your duties have changed from not only playing records, running ads, and providing entertaining banter with Peggy, your producer in the adjoining booth, but you must also offer advice and guidance to people that are literally in life-or-death situations.

There’s one small catch, seeing as there’s a killer on the loose and no obvious connection between the victims, you’re confined to the radio station. Thankfully, the station hosts various shows and hires interesting people, so hints and solutions to the deadly predicaments of your callers can be found within the cubicles and writings of your fellow work buddies. Can you save everyone, catch the killer, and live to see another day, or will you fail horribly and gleefully make a pun out of everyone’s death live on air? I know what I’d do, but I guess we should aim to save them instead…

Killer Frequency 2+1

Explore the studio, including what appears to be Fox Mulder’s office…

Gameplay
Killer Frequency is a puzzle game above anything else, pushing you to explore your surroundings to look for the answers rather than simply guessing (which you can do if you don’t care about the safety of the person on the line). Each playthrough will last around 3-4 hours – maybe longer, but never shorter due to the non-skippable banter and interactions you have with Peggy and the townsfolk. This makes the speedrun trophy of keeping everyone alive and catching the killer in under four hours quite exhilarating.

When you’re in DJ mode, you can pick what records to play so you can privately talk to Peggy, play adverts for some of the quirky businesses and individuals of the town, and master your aim of throwing paper and records from your desk into the basketball net above the bin across the room. You have some dialogue choices which don’t change the narrative (but can provide a few laughs if you constantly mock those who die), but overall the story is very interesting and the music you can play is very 1980s and fits the game perfectly.

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When you switch over to 911 caller mode, things are a little different. This time, dialogue choices matter as you can either save someone or (in)directly murder them. You gain a small bit of info from the caller and then head into the studio to look for anything that can help provide accurate and helpful advice. For example, when someone calls saying they can’t get their car started because they dropped their key, you go and find a magazine one of the car-based radio presenters was reading – you use the info within this article to help her start the car and get away safely without accidentally setting off the alarm. Think “Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes” but in single-player with an NPC.

Killer Frequency 3+1

Oh no, we can’t let him die a virgin…

Puzzles
The puzzles within Killer Frequency are fun and unique, often having you look for different items that’ll help you rather than relying on a single document or image. I really enjoyed playing the game for the first time blind – I didn’t look at any of the trophies and obviously had no online articles or videos due to playing the game a few weeks before launch. This made the game much more satisfying as I managed to both kill and save everyone by looking for the answers and then manipulating them accordingly based on what my agenda was.

I never found anything cryptic or difficult to solve, you just had to think outside of the box a few times and refer to visual hints. For example, at one stage you have to call someone to help out a victim that’s been locked inside a unit at the local dump. However, there’s a notice on the map that tells you about recent roadworks that have blocked off certain streets. So, you need to use this information to decide which person would be best to call for assistance. Then, when you get them there, you need to question the victim to further whittle down the exact location to send your new sidekick – if you’re too late (or wrong), they’ll be ‘down in the dumps’… forever.

I personally liked the puzzles a lot, some were quite easy but others required a bit of thought. I even found one of them quite tricky when it came to ensuring everyone dies, as my choices often resulted in them surviving! My only negative would be that I wanted the puzzles to be harder, more cryptic, and a pain in the arse to figure out! Instead of just finding a book with codes that you give to the caller, make that a puzzle itself so we had to work out the codes. Or, instead of simply reading the personnel files to find the best person to help us, give us staff performance reviews that are tricky to understand or multiple reports we have to cross-reference to find the right employee.

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Don’t take this the wrong way – the puzzles are great and lots of fun to solve, I just wanted it to be a little more immersive and difficult at times – that would have boosted the satisfaction of figuring out the correct answer. 

Killer Frequency 4+1

Pin and mark the town map to help locate people

The Townsfolk
I have to praise the team for creating a bunch of quirky inhabitants within Killer Frequency. Every person has a strong personality which comes across in their dialogue and voice perfectly. I especially love Ponty of Ponty’s Pizzas – he’s a very outgoing and bonkers character that offers a nice bit of comic relief whilst his customers are dying live on air. He also seems to be one of your few loyal listeners, let’s hope he doesn’t fall victim to the Whistling Man as it’ll be a major impact on your ratings!

Although the dialogue changes slightly based on who you saved or left to die, the overall narrative doesn’t really change. Sure, you’ll uncover more info about past events if you have someone to talk to (corpses don’t talk much), but you’ll often get the same info from someone else if the original choice to talk to is ‘indisposed’. The ending also seems to be based upon how you man the lines and choices you make in the final segment – if you’re useless then you lose all respect from the killer, yet if you’re good then they’ll be more willing to talk to you about why they’re out looking for blood.

One thing which I found quite interesting is that there are no actual character models in the game aside from the Whistling Man. Forrest has no reflections, Peggy is behind a tinted window so you only see her silhouette, and every other interaction you have is over the phone and not in person. This is why the voice acting is such a major aspect of the game, they had to portray each character by vocals alone – which they did perfectly. Because of this, I found it a little disappointing that the voice artists are buried very far down in the credits – I’m glad they’re there (as some companies don’t even name them), but I would have expected them to be towards the top due to them being a major part of the game.

Killer Frequency 5+1

I’d hate to bump into him in a dark alley, or VR!

Killer Frequency VR!
Killer Frequency was clearly made with VR in mind, even if the original 2019 version wasn’t. The way you pick up items and have them floating in your invisible left or right hands, swapping so you can hold multiple items, and answering dialogue choices from floating options – it all screams “Virtual Reality” to me. That’s when I decided to look the game up and discovered that it IS available to buy in VR… on a single platform!

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That’s right, for some strange reason (possibly a paid ‘influence’ from Meta?) you can only buy and play the game in VR on the Meta Quest II. The website claims the game was built from the ground up for the Quest II, allowing it to hit a rather strange 72fps, but that just sounds like it’s getting a heavily optimised version that’ll probably look worse than you get on other platforms. We’ve seen this before in other games via comparisons on YouTube. 

Considering the PSVR 2 headset launched just a few months ago, you would have thought that they would have adapted the PS5 version to also play in VR, allowing it to play at up to 4k and 120fps. At a push, the PS4 version could probably support it in VR via PSVR 1 as well. I’m going to remain optimistic that the game gets released on other VR platforms in the future (especially PSVR 2), as it states on the product listing page that this is Team17‘s first VR game developed by themselves. As such, they may only have a development kit for the Meta Quest II and/or they may want to experiment with one platform before dedicating time and effort to others.

Killer Frequency 6+1

Which would you pick? (this is on PS4)

Technical (PS4 differences)
I personally love the look of Killer Frequency, it’s not as dark and gritty as the 2019 version (sadly), but the simplistic animated, yet realistic style looks really good. The game is full of period-correct items too, from posters to devices, you really do feel like you’ve travelled back to the ’80s. I also loved that you can quickly enable text boxes by simply pushing the L3 button – this displays anything your reticule is on appear in plain text to the side of the screen. This means reading some of the documents is much easier.

The PlayStation 5 runs the game at 60fps, locked. I don’t know the resolution but it looked like a full 4K as there were no shimmer and/or obvious visual downgrades – it looks super clean, crisp and silky smooth to walk around (annoyingly, there’s no run option!). However, when we move over to the PlayStation 4, it’s kinda the opposite. The framerate is locked to 30fps, yet it’s a smooth 30fps and not janky or affected by frame pacing, and there is obvious shimmer along some edges which makes me think the resolution may be around the 1080p-1440p range (Depending on if it has PS4 Pro support or not via BC mode).

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There’s no save import, so there’s no benefit in playing the PS4 version over the PS5 one (unless you want both platinums). As such, I’d strongly recommend playing the PS5 version as that one looks and plays the best, but PS4 gamers aren’t being left behind as it also looks and plays great on there too.

Official Trailer:

Final Conclusion:
I really enjoyed Killer Frequency, having to search the studio for clues on how to guide the unlucky victims to safety was lots of fun and very creative. Although I would have liked some of the solutions to be more cryptic and challenging, I was still overcome with satisfaction upon working out the solutions and either saving or killing everyone that called in (depending on my mood). Outside of the imaginative puzzles, the banter and underlying story were very entertaining and an experience I won’t soon forget.

Although it would have been fantastic to play the game via my PSVR 2 headset, I can’t hold this against the team as it was their first game within VR and they choose the Meta Quest II as their debut platform. However, I’m hoping that we’ll eventually see it on PSVR 2 so I can jump back in and become even more immersed.

A copy of the game was kindly provided for review purposes

Killer Frequency

£19.99
9

Final Score

9.0/10

The Good:

  • Creative and immersive puzzles which require you to seek out the solutions
  • Great music and voice acting
  • Multiple endings and dialogue choices
  • Everyone can die
  • Entertaining banter

The Bad:

  • VR is limited to the Meta Quest II only, at the moment
  • I wish some of the solutions were harder and more involved to figure out
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