When you go looking through the touchstone horror franchises of the slasher era, there are several killers that spring to mind: Voorhees, Kruger, Myers, and Leatherface. But what about the Killer Klowns From Outer Space? Unlike the slasher hall-of-famers mentioned above, the Klowns never made it past a single movie, with many attempted sequels mired in development since the 1988 original. Yet somehow, somehow they’re getting an official videogame. And as a horror game, it sounds amazing.
With Randy Greenback, executive director of Friday the 13th: The Game, heading up development there’s plenty of pedigree behind this cult revival, but he’s keen to highlight that the 2017 multiplayer game was far from perfect. “There are things that just did not work,” Greenback tells us, “so we’re patching what didn’t work and making it better here, but we’re also expanding on the things that did work and innovating on them.”
One of the big issues, according to Greenback and the Bogota-based developer Teravision, is the amount of pressure that games like this place on the killer. Because the killer is the only threat, the enjoyment of everyone in the match hinges on their ability to provide tension – if they’re skilled, then survivors don’t feel like they ever had a chance, but if they’re less familiar with the game then survival is too easy. In Killer Klowns there are three killers, facing off against seven survivors, so the job of providing all the fear is shared out a bit more evenly.
There’s another twist: not every human character is player-controlled. This means that if you get killed by a Klown you’ll actually respawn as an NPC in the world, keeping you fully invested in the outcome of a match, even after a few deaths. Of course, the Klowns will eventually whittle the map population down to the point where there’s nobody left to respawn, but the result is like a true slasher sequel: more blood, more deaths, more action. Greenback says the game will lean into this even further by having challenges that reward Klown teams for using as many different finisher moves as possible.
As in the movie, the Klowns aren’t just out to kill humans: they want to capture them by trapping them in cotton candy cocoons and taking them back to the mothership. It’s very similar to how killers use hooks in Dead by Daylight, and it ensures that survivors have a chance to fight back before dying for good. And the survivors can even turn the tables on the Klowns by infiltrating their spaceship and deactivating their respawners – there are a few steps to achieve before you can start permanently denting the Klown population, but it’s an option for coordinated teams.
Both humans and Klowns come in a variety of classes, with humans mostly differing in terms of either how much utility or lethality they bring to the table, and Klowns standing out thanks to some outlandish gadgets and abilities. For example, Spikey – the tracker class – can inflate a balloon dog to hunt down survivors, and if you’re too far away from them then you can hop in an invisible car and speed off in pursuit, balloon dog in lap. It’s slapstick stupidity at its absolute finest.
As you’d expect from any modern multiplayer game, Killer Klowns is being designed as a service game with seasons, new eras, and new locations already planned. “We expect this to last for a long time,” Greenback says, “and we’ve got a lot of content planned, even beyond the first season.” And while Friday the 13th: The Game ran out of post-launch steam pretty early (thanks primarily to an intractable legal dispute over the rights to the IP), there are multiple Killer Klowns sequels that never saw the light of day, and Greenback is working with the creators of the original movie to bring those ideas to life. “We get to cherry pick from the notes they have, talk to them about it, and then add that stuff over the course of the game,” Greenback says.
You can add Killer Klowns from Outer Space: The Game to your Steam wishlist right now – and expect a release date in early 2023.