Killer Chambers is an unforgiving action-platformer – a classic bullet-hell that will put your pattern-memorizing abilities and reaction time to the test.
Jump over, duck under, and dodge deadly projectiles. But nevermind how good and how quick you are, your blood will still decorate the walls of the chamber.
Lord, I Don’t Wanna Die
Killer Chambers tells its story as a visual novel full of humor that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It keeps you laughing throughout the levels, and anticipating to read the dialogs each time they the characters meet.
You play as Lord Brave, who is in the middle of his meal when he’s informed that the ghostly Lord Grave took over the castle. If that’s not irritating enough, the bastard is having the time of his after-life watching all the so-called heroes getting killed by the traps he spread across the fort.
With a sense of duty (and a selfish want to claim back his home), our ur greedy Lord enters the first chamber. There, he meets Lord Grave, who appears out of nowhere just in time to spring his traps. Sadly, Lord Brave dies immediately. But don’t mourn him quite yet – he comes back to life seconds after each demise.
Jump or Duck or Die
To survive, you move, jump, or duck at the right time and in the right place. Do that in over 40 rooms to obtain the King’s Crown. Each room has a fixed pattern of projectiles you need to dodge, so memorizing it is key; super-fast reflexes won’t hurt as well. Get hit once and die instantly, and the chamber will reset back to its beginning.
Most of the rooms have three difficulty levels. Beating the first level gives you a key to unlock the next room and progress through the game. The second and third difficulties are optional and offer different rewards.
Beat the second level to earn gold coins to buy consumables that can help you along your way to the crown. Beat the third difficulty to obtain diamonds you can use to purchase different hats. Each hat grants you with a special power; as long as it doesn’t fall off your head, that is.
Killer Chambers is a delicate balance between joy and frustration, and its level design is one of the best I’ve ever come across. The trap patterns are just the right repetitive enough to allow you to predict some of the projectile routes. But they’re also distinct enough to keep you deeply concentrated, so you’re able to memorize and figure out the correct steps.
On top of that, Killer Chambers has another on-point game mechanic that is also flawlessly connected to the game lore – the cursed chambers.
Death Is Inevitable
Lord Grave is really upset with our immortal Lord, so he does what any Ghost would – he puts a curse on Lord Brave. A curse meter slowly fills each time you die, and when it’s full, you are thrown into a cursed chamber: a room filled with different kinds of creepy traps. To break free and continue your journey in the castle, you must first beat it.
This brilliant penalty gives meaning and weight to your deaths – suddenly, you care about dying since you don’t want to get trapped in the cursed chambers. But it also makes you try your hardest to make each life count so you can keep the curse at bay. What you really want is to get it out of there fast enough, so you don’t forget the patterns of the room you were trying to beat before you died one too many times.
One more reason I love this mechanic is that it forces you to “take a break, but keep playing” – a much-needed reprieve after dying roughly 200 times in the same room. The cursed chamber might shift your attention and help you recover your temperament, so you get kind of a fresh start to a frustrating level.
The Art of Dying
The pixel art strongly reflects the game’s dark theme. The corridor, rooms, and characters are well-designed, and I especially liked the chambers’ lighting effects.
The character and trap animations precisely deliver what you can expect out of a pixelated game. You can love it or hate it – it is still very well-made.
While Killer Chambers is not a game for everyone, I truly loved it, especially the brilliant level design and the comic character dialogs. The game is frustrating enough to make you scream but also mesmerizes you to keep playing and survive the impossibly tiny chambers.
Developer: Village Bench
Publisher: Village Bench
Release Date: Apr. 05, 2019
Genre: Action, Bullet Hell
Available On: PC
Reviewed On: PC
Our Killer Chambers review copy was provided by the developer.Some of our posts include links to online retail stores. We get a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Don't worry, it doesn't cost you anything extra.