Killer Klowns from Outer Space Review

Killer Klowns from Outer Space header

The 80s was a great time for fans of slasher films and horror in general, but I’d never heard of Killer Klowns from Outer Space before seeing the modern game trailer for the first time. I did know IllFonic, though, as the custodians of the late Friday the 13th: The Game, the more recent Predator: Hunting Grounds and a number of other asymmetrical multiplayer games.

Update: This is now our final scored review.

I was admittedly a little dubious, with some of IllFonic’s licensed games significantly better than others. Friday the 13th was a decent jaunt, sadly passing on with its support ending, but Predator: Hunting Grounds didn’t live up to its expectations. Thankfully for the potential longevity of this game, the film creators, the Chiodo Brothers, seem very on board with making this game a success, talking about how they want to expand the universe of Killer Klowns in a way they were never able to do before with the original movie. Of course, it helps that the game feels like a real winner.

Each match pits three extraterrestrial Klowns against seven humans, with the human players trying to escape the map and the Klowns hunting them down and trying to bring about the Klownpocalypse. It could easily have fit exactly into the formula of all the other asymmetrical multiplayer horrors, but the humans here can fight back, making this very much a battle of attrition compared to the oppressive nature of Killers vs Survivors in Dead by Daylight.

Killer Klowns from Outer Space guns

Case in point, I was able to get very tooled up very early as a human in one match – I found a shotgun, some bullets and a handgun – and managed to take down two out of three Klowns in a fight before being killed myself. I like this because it means you don’t have to fear for your life in each game as a human, and alongside various rescue and resurrection options, gives your team a fighting chance even with some early set backs.

On both sides, communication is key and the game is as authentic as possible with in-game proximity chat for humans that all nearby players can hear, while the Klowns can chat at range with… telepath, maybe. It forces would be survivors to explore and try to find your comrades so you can see what items they found and actively work together to escape.

Each map has up to four escape points for which you’ll need to find specific items to open and make a getaway. For instance, the boat requires having its gas tank filled, a spark plug installed and its engine started, each process requiring a skill check (timed button press) to not make noise that alerts Klowns across the map. There’s also the fact that these exits might be coated in a thick layer of candy floss which will need to be removed before you can get out – the Klowns can reapply the coating with their various ridiculous guns, as well.

Dotted around the map are a metric ton of pickups to find; baseballs, hamburgers, a compass, energy drinks, weapons and so much more, all of which are useful at some point during the match. I tried to keep an energy drink on me in case I got discovered by a Klown, necking the energy drink in order to boost my stamina and make a getaway

There are currently five different archetypes to select from; Athletic, Rebellious, Heroic, Resourceful and Tough, each one varying in stats. The Athletic type for instance has a higher stamina stat meaning they can run for longer, while the Tough type has better health.

There’s also currently five different types of Klown, coming with their own unique stats, weapons and skills. The Ranger comes with a cool ability which lets you hypnotise Humans into walking towards gormlessly awaiting an untimely death, while the Tracker can create an awesome Balloon Dog that will pull you in the direction of where Humans are hiding, meaning you are never truly safe from from the Klowns wrath. These abilities are not tied to the specific Klowns either, because after unlocking them, you can mix and match the abilities and guns.

Killer Klowns from Outer Space stealth

Klowns can generally have hunt down survivors without fear and preventing them from escaping, either by killing them outright, or by using them to trigger an early Klownpocalypse – this happens once the fifteen minute timer runs out, giving one last ditch escape opportunity before the map is covered in cotton candy.

You can get an early Klownpocalypse by hooking up big cotton candy cocoons – either spare ones or created using downed humans – to lackey generators around the map. Each machine has four spaces, and hooking up sixteen of them will trigger an early end game. In the meantime, they will also spawn minions that roam the map, exposing the positions of humans and trying to grapple and hold them for you, making them far easier to shoot and turn into candy… or for performing a Klownality on them. My personal favourite is the pie finisher, where you throw an impossible amount of pies at the poor Human, before topping them off with a cherry.

It’s all very tongue-in-cheek which is very in keeping with the theme of the original movie. It was a horror comedy and that very much feels like the vibe here. The game is not trying to take itself too seriously and be a complete horror experience and is instead focusing on just trying to be fun. Dead by Daylight could learn from this, such as by having an in-game timer to prevent games being held hostage by toxic players.

The game also encourages players to stick around after death. Klowns will respawn, but humans are given minigames to complete, which reward items that you can either pass to living players, or fill your own inventory if you’re hoping for a rescue or resurrection. Some minigames feel better than others,, though success is just about reducing the time before you get a reward. The resurrection machine is a fantastic inclusion that should help massively towards the ‘entitled survivor’ that’s cropping up in these kinds of games recently.

It’s worth a mention, but after watching the movie between sessions playing the game, I was impressed by how accurate the game actually is, right down to how you knock a Klown out – first by stunning them and then by popping their nose – and the way it disappears. It’s very smartly done.

Thankfully the first couple patches before the official launch have ironed out the worst of the pre-release kinks. Checking in with the game over the last couple days has been generally smooth experience, letting the game’s fun combination of ideas come to the fore.

Of course, we have to compare this game to the rest of IllFonic’s releases, and for all intents and purposes, it feels like a reskin that jumbles up the player count and some other gameplay tweaks. Saying that alone doesn’t do this game justice or feel fair, though. Killer Klowns definitely feels like an evolution of the system and is much more fun to play as a result. While not quite as good or as polished as Dead by Daylight, Killer Klowns still has a place in this genre without stepping on anything’s toes or replacing them.

Code was provided by IllFonic for the purposes of this review.

Summary
Many contenders have tried to take the asymmetrical crown from Dead by Daylight, and while Killer Klowns from Outer Space might not necessarily be better than DBD, it's a fun alternative that can stand on its own two (Klown) feet.
Good
  • Gameplay is fun and engaging
  • Good humour and a faithful recreation of the original movie
  • Is different enough to Dead by Daylight to be relevant
Bad
  • Very buggy pre-release and a lot of server issues
  • Tutorials could be a lot better
  • Having to wait to unlock some of the archetypes
8
Written by
Consummate professional, lover of video games and all-round hero that can be found doing a podcast, writing about games and also making videos. Oh, I have saved the world 87 times and once hugged Danny Trejo. You're welcome.

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