Killer Chambers

Out Now on Nintendo Switch (UK/US) – Developed and published by Village Bench

I first played Killer Chambers a little over a year ago, when I reviewed the PC version. I found it to be a devilishly difficult, but brilliantly designed and very addictive game with a smart, simple premise: your well spoken (albeit in text), top hat-sporting character sets out to claim the King’s Crown and save the realm – but to do so, he must work his way through the eponymous Killer Chambers: a series of claustrophobically restrictive spaces that are laden with traps. To proceed, all the player has to do is survive the traps for as long as it takes the hourglass to empty – and then it’s on to the next chamber. Sounds simple right?

If only. The chambers are absolutely fiendish in design, giving the game the feel of a platformer crossed with a bullet hell game. It’s as much a test of memory as it is reaction and co-ordination; your character will need to jump, duck or even co-ordinate jumping and ducking into a single manoeuvre in order to survive the relentless onslaught of traps. There’s a clever difficulty system: you can complete a room on the easiest level to earn a key, which is all you need to proceed – but the next level of difficulty up will grant you coins for completing a room, with a third level of difficulty bringing gems into the mix; coins and gems can be used to purchase items in the store, but the game can be completed with just keys if you find the higher difficulty levels too taxing.

And it pains me to admit it, but I’m terrible at Killer Chambers. I’m not ashamed to admit that I had difficulty with the middle and top levels of difficulty even on the earlier stages; though there’s a set pattern and therefore rhythm to each room, regardless of the difficulty, I still found myself repeating the same mistakes over and over again. Though it’s an extremely high level of challenge to face, the important thing to note is that Killer Chambers plays fair: there’s always fair warning of traps triggering through clever visual and audio cues, so any mistake you make is your fault entirely, rather than something that feels out of your control. The exceptionally well tuned design keeps you coming back for more, even as your pixelated blood continues to coat the walls of the current chamber you find yourself stuck in.

It’s not just the mechanics that are well designed; the script is nicely written and wryly amusing, with appealingly cartoony pixel art giving the game an inviting appearance that may well lull you into a false sense of security. As I said with the PC version, I can highly recommend Killer Chambers as a hardcore platform puzzler with a unique feel – though that’s with the caveat that you’ll be in for a very firm – but definitely fair – challenge when you play. Killer Chambers has found a great home on the Switch, equally compelling – and suitably bite sized – in handheld play and on a bigger screen.

Village Bench provided me with a game code for review purposes.

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