Killer Queen Black
Developed By: Liquid Bit and BumbleBear Games
Published By: Liquid Bit and Nighthawk Interactive
Category: Multiplayer Arcade / Action-Platformer
Release Date: 10.11.2019
Killer Queen Black is a high-flying multiplayer arcade port with action-platformer gameplay and real-time strategy influence. Originally created as a 16-person arcade game on the west coast, this title requires cooperation towards the end goal of victory. With three different ways to win, and constant teamwork necessary, this is one of the more unique multiplayer titles on the market that also touts itself as a potential eSport superstar. I am not sure if we will see this game in any MLG matches soon, but this offers one of the most addictive and satisfying gameplay loops, even for those that are traditionally not into multiplayer online experiences.
The first of those three win-conditions is through military dominance. You are playing in a hive, and each team has their own Queen. If the Queen is bested three times in a match, that team loses. Queens can fly around the stage and dash with a powerful stinger attack, but each team can also transform the basic worker unit into a fighter to aid in taking down the Queen or clearing out the enemy workers as they get closer to the other two ways to win. Weapons layout include bee fighters wielding a sword, morning star, and laser rifle, each having their own pros and cons. Sword attacks mimic those of the Queen for the most part, morning star fighters swing their weapon in a circular pattern, which is ideal for besting several workers in close quarters, and the laser rifle which when used by an accurate player can be deadly in all instances. Overall, Military Victory is the easiest to achieve, as you could theoretically rush the enemy Queen and take her down quickly if skilled enough. Also, this is the most necessary victory condition to switch to when the other team is close to completion, as this is also the quickest way to get a win. Knowing when to focus the Queen or strategically have one of you workers go fighter to slow the enemy workers pace will be the first crucial piece of this puzzle you will need to balance.
Being able to gather up enough berries to complete you hive is the second of those win conditions, known as the Economic Victory. Workers can gather up berries that are piled up around the level and run them over to you hive to fill out a certain number of open slots in the hive. This will most likely be the main objective that worker units will start working towards and will probably be the first strategy you ditch if you start to get behind, as it is the one that takes the longest to finish. Workers can throw the berries in order to save time crawling through the hive, and even allow for a split-second defense as throwing the berries at enemy units stuns them for a brief moment. The perfect use for stopping that Queen coming at you. Beyond that the worker units don’t have the ability to fly, which is where the platforming in this one comes in, as accurate traversal and speed makes for a faster path to victory. All in all, everything you do here is a race to the finish as both teams streak towards one of these victories.
Finally, the final victory condition is the Snail Victory, which is where things get weird and sneaky. While all of this chaos is ensuing around you with carnage between Queens and fighters, while workers are running for their lives with berries being thrown everywhere, a lonely snail sits at the center of the stage. This snail can be ridden on, and as you move the snail in one direction towards you end goal, you can get a win by successfully riding it to victory. This is usually the sneakiest of wins, as you have to jump on and ride the snail is smaller segments as the fighter units will target you. Technically, this would be the quickest route to victory, but this is a main focus for the fighter units as they are the only ways that can full on stop a worker riding the snail. A rival worker can throw themselves to the snail, allowing the snail to eat it, in order to make it pause its progression, which is used to hold things up long enough for a fighter to get to the snail.
With these three ways to play, you have a lot to balance and keep track of. On the fly strategy is necessary, as well as team cohesion, to attain these wins. It isn’t easy and having a weak spot on your team can throw you down repeated losses, but all in all can be overcome with different strategies. My only major issue through all of this is the laser rifle, which is beyond over-powered when compared to everything else being done in the game. A fighter with the laser can own the whole match. Also, I want to note that this game is cross-play against several other systems, as well as against PC players. Along with the usual internet issues that you can find with random players’ connections influencing a match, you also have the fact that it is tough to take on players from specific systems when you are on a controller on a console. I never found this to be too much to overcome, but it was clear when a PC player was in the lobby. My final qualm with the game is that even though this are usually pretty all over the place, with very little in terms of gameplay getting samey, I do have to note that good players on line go for the same strategies each match based on the map you are on. There are 6 different battlefields, and each has a quicker way to victory purely based on level design, and you will see these strategies come out over and over again, making a chaotic, fun experience into something very structures, defeating the whole purpose.
Offering three modes of online play (Unranked, Ranked, and Custom Matches) that cater to solo players or groups was something I had fun playing regardless of whether I was alone or not. Although this one is more fun with friends, as is common in multiplayer titles, I think the single player can offer just as much fun playing with random players online. Four players can play on one Switch, so a team can jump in together and head online, or two Switch systems can be paired up allowing for a large group of 8 friends to play in custom matches. Lots of different ways to play.
I also really appreciated an in-depth tutorial and a spectate mode that allows you to watch a match that is currently ongoing in order to try to learn the ropes. These are definitely some user-friendly additions that made my time go much more smoothly so I could get to the fun quicker.
Killer Queen Black is one of the more fun online experiences I have ever had in my life and having nice accessibility options and quick tutorials to teach you the ropes make you feel like you can contribute to the team right away. Although there is a hardcore player base that follows the same strategies, with some difficult competition from the PC ranks, you can avoid a lot of that through playing in Unranked Mode, or by leaving matches with players that aren’t making your experience a fun one. Bots and quick matchmaking make for quick in and out experiences, and the bots have a surprisingly good AI that really changes to the proper strategy as the match moves on. I was surprised I had as good of a time as I did with this title, and look forward to playing it casually for the foreseeable future, regardless of the few minor qualms here and there.
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The retail edition is courtesy of distributor Nighthawk Interactive and is available on Oct. 25 for $29.99 at all major North American retailers, including Amazon, Best Buy, Target, and Gamestop.
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