13 people. 13 collars. 72 hours. Who will survive?
Killer Queen is a visual novel by FLAT that was released in 2006 for PC originally. According to Lemnisca, the group that translated it into English, Killer Queen was the first in the Secret Game series, meaning that it is not only the one with the least amount of budget, but also the one with the roughest edges. There are many assets of Killer Queen that make the game feel like a prototype or a rough draft for a much bigger game. That’s because it is—both Secret Game: Killer Queen and Rebellions: Secret Game 2nd Stage, the second and third games, apparently expound upon the concept and formula of the first game with much better results. I will not know for myself until Lemnisca finishes translating both those games, but after playing the prototype I’m pretty excited for what’s next.
Killer Queen’s concept is as follows: Soichi has lost his girlfriend, who meant everything to him. Now that she is gone from this world, Soichi looks for a way to reunite with her. He tries to find a place to die, where he can use his life for someone else and not have to commit suicide. He finds it a month later when he is kidnapped and taken to an abandoned building along with 12 other people, each with a collar around their neck and equipped with a PDA. If you fail to get out of the building in time, the collar will explode. If you enter an area deemed forbidden by the map on the PDA, your collar will explode. If you try to use your PDA to remove the collar before you’re supposed to, your collar will…guess what? You probably guessed right. Each PDA has been loaded with a number or letter corresponding to a deck of cards and displays the same rules: they must survive for 72 hours while trying to fulfill their release condition based on which card they have, most of which involve killing other players (for instance, the -Ace-’s condition is having to kill the owner of the -Queen-’s PDA, while the -9-’s condition is that all other players except the -9- die.) Others are related to collecting a certain number of collars and PDAs, or destroying them. What makes it interesting, though, is that some release conditions are as simple as surviving: one require you to simply go through all 24 checkpoints in the building and another just has you sticking with another player for 24 hours (but you have to be alive until the 71-hour mark). Each participant in the game has a different release condition, and depending on the one you’re dealt, you may have to buddy up with people who may stab you in the back or deceive everyone else to the point where it would be easy to pick them off. Oh yeah, and one other thing…someone in the game has been dealt an extra PDA called the -Joker-, which lets the user disguise their own PDA as someone else’s. Though Soichi’s card, by pure happenstance, requires him to kill, he refuses to do so, even if it means his own death. Rather, he ends up becoming Emiya Shirou and tries to protect every girl he sees, especially one that is the spitting image of his dead girlfriend…
First, let’s talk about what Killer Queen does right. The story, though not the greatest, is at least interesting. The plot twists…let’s face it, they’re going to be predictable for the most part (doubly so if you’ve ever experienced a Battle Royale-esque survival game story in your life), but some things might catch you by surprise if you’re not paying attention thoroughly. The mechanics of the game itself are really well thought out, especially with the addition of the Joker, which has everyone suspecting each other even further, and the “forbidden area” stipulation, which states that gradually, floor by floor, the entire building will become a forbidden area. Some participants pull some really clever tricks with these PDAs and with the environment, including one with an elevator shaft that I never would have thought of. The characters are…well, I won’t say they’re all likable, but some you’ll feel legitimate attachment towards, and some you might just love to hate. I ended up liking the main character and the heroines more than I thought though.
Now let’s talk about the less-than-great stuff. First of all, a lot of people are going to be put off by the art. It’s bad. It might not by Ryukishi07 bad, but at least Ryukishi’s art has charm, and this has none of it. It didn’t bother me all that much, honestly, having played games with way worse art than this, but it really hammers home how rough the entire game is. The interface is unremarkable and bland, and the title and menu screens are even blander, almost making the game look like it was made by a novice Ren’py user. There are two separate episodes in Killer Queen, and they don’t flow or connect together very well. Some questions are left unanswered or ignored. Not to mention the OP, which you are required to watch at the beginning, spoils some things, so that kind of sucks (though if you’re not looking for it you should be fine). Overall, it is a well-written game, but I just wish it was more cohesive, or that it had a “final episode” that tied everything together.
The last thing I want to mention is that this game is 18+ and, true to the developers’ name, there are lolis in it. If that bothers you, I would highly recommend turning the H-scenes off, which can be done through the Config screen. Though you will miss a bit of the impact of the story, I feel, you won’t really be missing too much, as the scenes are kind of gross and bizarre anyway. Also, as you might expect from a game where people’s heads get blown off, this game has explicit gore. There is a censorship patch available as well if that also bothers you. Though, if you’re not ready for sex, gore, and violence, you’re probably not ready for this game anyway.
So yeah, would I recommend this game? I’d have to give a definite “Maybe”. If you like survival game stuff, I would say it is worth playing for several reasons. Just keep your expectations moderate to low and you will probably have a good time.