GAME REVIEW | Many Paths, One Goal: "Slay the Princess"
You are in the woods, walking towards a cabin. A narrator is telling you that you — and only you — can slay the princess. If she does not die, then the world ends. At least, that’s what the narrator is telling you. But can they be trusted?
That’s the name of the game in Slay the Princess, a visual novel from Black Tabby Games. The objective is simple enough, as the weapon of choice lies on a table next to the basement door. Yet there’s doubt in this plan. Why would anyone want to kill a princess? Furthermore, what exactly are you, whose arms have the claws of a reptilian fiend?
Doubt plays a major role in Slay the Princess. And with every moment of doubt, another pathway in your journey is revealed. Sure, you could just do the deed, but killing the princess doesn’t exactly end the story. Even if the narrator wants you to get the job done, who’s to say that they actually want you to succeed?
Soon, it’s not just yours and the narrator’s voice you hear. Your emotions may not get the best of you, but that’s not stopping them from entering the conversation. A voice filled with fear, one with snark, another smitten by the princess you’re suppose to kill, even a stubborn one just to cause you some trouble. And each voice that tags along not only causes issues, they also have their own fair share of good points.
It makes this quest in Slay the Princess all the more difficult. After all, with enough paranoia spinning in your head, you’ll quickly become your own worst enemy. Even if the narrator is trying to sway you back onto the path at hand, there’s enough rummaging in your head to keep you on a more wandering road. But then, the worlds start changing, until all that’s left is nothingness.
Is the point to let it all come to an end? Does something good actually happen once you slay the princess? Whatever happened to “Love conquers all”? Why does each path keep changing the kind of “hero” that you actually are? And what of the different princess entities that you’ll find yourself seeing at the end of each different result?
Honestly, saying a lot about Slay the Princess does more hard than good. In fact, I fear that I might’ve already given a little too much info. Granted, I haven’t ruined any twists or surprises (at least, I hope I didn’t!), but Black Tabby Games have crafted a game that’s best to go in blindly to get the full experience. The more I say, the more I might ruin something about this visual novel.
What I can say about Slay the Princess is that it delivers an unforgettable experience. One moment, you’ll be shrugging over the pencil-sketch designs; the next moment, you’ll be in awe of the imaginative visuals that start to protrude through the story. (The artist: Abby "Screaming Opossum" Howard! Her husband Tony Howard-Arias is the game's programmer & designer, just FYI.) On par with that is the voice acting, done solely by two actors (one playing the princess, the other playing everyone else). The levels of personalities that both people manage to pull out of the characters is remarkable, making for some fantastic character development and narrative work.
Although you can attempt to beat the game in about 3-4 hours, that one play-through is not all that you see. Every tiny decision you make, ranging from obtaining the weapon to how you’d ask a question, results in a new route being created. I don’t exactly know how many endings you can discover in Slay the Princess, but one will definitely need to play a lot to experience them all!
- Unpredictable storytelling
- Good humor, thought-provoking narrative
- Loads of endings
- Might make you question reality
Slay the Princess is a simple premise, but it’s executed in a way that’s both wild and unpredictable. Every little decision you make has major consequences, and no two princesses you come face to face with will be the same. So what will you do: will you slay the princes, or let the world fold itself into a crumpled-up piece of matter? Whatever you choose, just don’t delay yourself from experiencing one dark and well-written fantasy.
Promotional consideration provided by Zachery Bennett of Stride PR. Reviewed on the PC via Steam.