Killer Queen Black‘s long-awaited Switch port is finally here, ready to treat scores of new players to a rewarding balance of strategy and chaos. Dropping you and your friends on either side of a war between insect hives, this team-based competitive game stands tall with many ways to win and a very high ceiling for strategic, creative play. At its best, Killer Queen Black is a high-octane showdown where quick, careful thinking and skillful play prevail. It is one of the top multiplayer indies on Switch. However, it does have a few hoops to jump through before that satisfying underlying game is fully unlocked.
Fast-paced and incredibly chaotic, Killer Queen Black is at its best with six-to-eight players at a time. Luckily, there are reasonably intelligent bots, so you can have a great time by yourself or with just a couple of friends. There is often a ton going on, so much so that it is almost intimidating to try and make sense of everything happening on screen. Indeed, Killer Queen Black will at first feel almost impenetrable to friends who have barely ever tried video games — a significant drawback for a game best enjoyed by a bunch of folks at once.
Gameplay in Killer Queen Black is hard to grasp at first, but victory await players who pause to figure out what’s going on, who’s doing what, and where they can be most effective for their team. Amidst perpetual disorder, strategy is key. Your squad, consisting of a queen and three loyal, upgradeable worker bees, can prevail through economic victory, military victory, or snail victory.
Economic victory is awarded when your team completely fills your hive with berries scattered around the field. For a military victory, kill the other side’s queen three times — both your queen and any upgraded worker bee can take a lethal shot at the enemy queen. Finally, a snail victory involves riding an angry, bee-eating snail all the way to your team’s edge of the battlefield. The snail is big, slow, and leaves its riders pretty much defenseless.
Each strategy has its pluses and minuses. To Liquid Bit’s credit, no path to victory feels entirely useless, and none are unequivocally better than the others. Economic victory was my favorite way to win long, grind-it-out matches. It is easy to take a moment and slowly fill your hive with berries while queens and fighters are tangled up over a snail or just trying to stay alive and out of the fray.
If someone on your team is a particularly effective combatant though, you can snag several quick military victories. You can also put the other team at a substantial disadvantage just by killing the queen twice, thus forcing her to play much more conservatively. The snail strategy, meanwhile, works best when everyone else is caught up going for another means of victory, or when your team throws everything they’ve got at protecting the snail while you ride to glory. (Alternatively, one of the best ways to temporarily stop an advancing escargot is to sacrifice your worker bee body, jump at the snail’s face, and get eaten.)
While the game itself is awesome, Killer Queen Black has its drawbacks on Switch. The menus and general game setup can be a bit of a trip to navigate, and the tutorials are long and slow. For the most part, however, the game’s problems are temporary, and once you’ve got the hang of it, Killer Queen Black‘s multiplayer experience is a strategic playground unlike anything you have played before.
Getting eight interested players together for a full, local round of Killer Queen Black sounds pretty daunting, but luckily, the game has casual and ranked online modes that run fairly well. I was able to get a few matches in and found them all to run smoothly. Online play is a viable option for those without friends nearby. As a bonus, the game has cross-play enabled with Steam and Xbox, so you can jump right in with your friends on other systems.
Ultimately, with Killer Queen Black, there are layers of complicated, dragging tutorials, confusing menus, and gameplay generally unfriendly to newcomers. But past that, there is an exciting, unique, and thoughtful title that will have you and your friends frantically testing out all kinds of different roles, plans, and contingencies on the fly.
The publisher provided an advance code for this review. Our review policy.