In the world of Slay the Princess, steel your resolve as the Hero with a task unlike any other. A Princess waits for you in a distant cabin but she is no damsel in distress. Instead, she is a threat and you must slay her. Developed by Black Tabby Games, Slay the Princess is a fully-voiced surreal horror visual novel where nothing is quite as it seems. Righteousness and an unwavering duty are classic traits for a hero, however, players will begin to question the morality of their actions in this dark tale.
It starts in the woods with a well-walked path just up ahead. The Narrator, voiced by Jonathan Sims, guides you every step of the way. The objective is clear. You know what you must do. Beyond the brush of branches and leaves sits a wooden cabin on top of a hill. Through its windowpanes, it glows under the starry night sky. Past the doors and down to the basement, she is shackled but not hostile. Why is she here? Is this actually right?
Slay the Princess is straightforward with a seemingly simple, singular objective: slay the Princess. What appears as a simple task, however, quickly becomes a journey filled with questions and doubt. In its wit and humor, the game holds players captive with its mysterious Narrator who deliberately withholds information, sowing the seeds of mistrust. The ambiguity of the Narrator combined with an equally withholding Princess (Nichole Goodnight) is a testament to exploring the layers of the story.
The environment and scenes are still images, black and white and hand-drawn. The pencil-stylized visual creates a unique look and feel that is befitting of an offbeat fairy tale. Its graphite shading and hatch work add the right amount of texture and depth to the gray palette scheme. In fact, it compliments the charms, humor, and sudden twists of the game. What is an otherwise elevated interior castle with a demure Princess shifts suddenly to an unsightly image of her attempting to rip her arm off.
As a choice-drive, narrative-focused game, players are granted several dialogue options. The progression moves as you do, with a click of the mouse choosing whichever style of response suits you. The more players choose to explore and engage in conversations, the more unravels. As such, the world begins to shift according to your actions.
The tale of Slay the Princess is told in a loop. Repeating itself over and over. While each loop shifts the world, you will always find yourself presented with familiar scenes. You will always return to the woods, to the cabin, and similar choices. At times, depending on your dialogue selections, a few newer things appear while others are no longer available. Whether this helps you or adds more confusion will be answered in repeated cycles.
What begins as something fragile and impactful with player choice loses a bit of allure over time. Revisiting the same situation and environment slowly feels endless and pointless. However, it reels you back unexpectedly should you stray. A contributing factor to this is the compelling writing. It is well-decorated with embellished descriptions that move players along through actions and engagements. As players venture through another loop, the voiceover of both the Narrator and the Princess commands attention as they too shift in tone and actions.
From subtle to blunt shifts in the scenery, Slay the Princess does well creating mood and mystery with music that fits each new reality. A muffled low, hollow roar carries in the background as off-key notes twang distortedly in an environment that once looked like normal forest greenery and shrubbery. The world is breaking, every crack unearthing just a bit more.
Slay the Princess is a straightforward choice-driven visual novel that slowly breaks at the seams revealing a rabbit hole of possibilities that prey on player anxieties and paranoia. Its seemingly simple approach crafts an experience that will feel maddening and holding. Trust the Narrator and aim to complete the task or side with the Princess and trust her words? The result may not be the storybook ending you’d expect.
Slay the Princess is now available on PC.
Slay the Princess
Slay the Princess is a straightforward choice-driven visual novel that slowly breaks at the seams revealing a rabbit hole of possibilities that prey on player anxieties and paranoia.