Game Reviews

Killer Klowns from Outer Space: The Game Review – Pratfall Inc.

Well, you can’t say that this one was coming. Whenever a horror icon jumps back into the spotlight, it’s for a crossover in Dead by Daylight, like Chucky from Child’s Play or Ghostface from Scream, or a crossover in Call of Duty, like Spawn or… well, Ghostface from Scream, actually. Still, there’s more ammo in the clip in this instance, as 36 years later, Killer Klowns from Outer Space has gotten the game treatment.

This is the latest title from Illfonic, most well-known for the somewhat underseen Friday The 13th: The Game, and the exceptionally jank Dead Alliance. Developed in partnership with Colombia-based developers Teravision Games, who are responsible for the VR tower defense title Captain Toonhead vs The Punks from Outer Space, Killer Klowns sees both developers return to familiar territory – Illfonic in structure, and Teravision in aesthetic.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, it’d be remiss of me if I didn’t recommend the original 1988 film the game is based on. A testament to low-budget buffoonery, it’s a near-perfect balance of physical comedy, memorable moments, and practical effects, with just enough ironic winking towards the audience without feeling patronizing. There are even a couple of creepy moments that slip in, intentionally or otherwise.

An in-game screenshot of Killer Klowns from Outer Space: The Game, showcasing the player trapped inside a cotton candy cocoon and close to death.

As for the game, it’s an asymmetrical multiplayer affair, one which somewhat follows the events of the movies. The Klowns have come to Earth in order to transform humans into cotton candy cocoons that the Klowns use for sustenance and energy. In-game, 3 Klowns will face off against a maximum of 7 humans, who look to escape using several methods and fight back against the Klowns to temporarily stop their plans to bring forth the “Klownpocalypse”, a game event that will kill all remaining players if they haven’t escaped.

On the player’s side, you have two forms of health: Your hit points, which can lead to death, and a meter showing how much you’ve been cotton candy-ized, which can also lead to death. On the Klown’s behalf, they only have one health bar, which when emptied, can only be killed by a sharp object popping its big red nose. Klowns do have infinite lives however, so it’s only a minor setback.

On the surface, it looks like Killer Klowns is paying more than just lip service to its peers. The cotton candy cocoons have to be hooked up to several generators, something which you can also do to human players if you manage to transform them. However, Illfonic and Teravision seem to be paying attention to how the game flows in its peaks, eliminating concepts like “hook camping” or “tunneling” since the player pool, and scope, is much bigger.

The end result screen of Killer Klowns from Outer Space: The Game, showcasing the game declaring a "Modest Klown Victory"

Surprisingly, it manages to become its own thing. A vaguely PvPvE experience with just enough tactical opportunities, class variety, different forms of combat, and punchy references to show they’re not being cynical. Whenever you use the “Balloon Dog” and “Invisible Car” powerups, you’ll find it hard not to crack a smile, especially if you’ve seen the movie before.

It also helps that Killer Klowns tends to be a balanced affair, with both sides having enough in their arsenal to be a major threat to their opponent. While teamwork on the human side of things is almost non-existent, the maps’ gargantuan sizes and several escape paths are helpful in making sure that even the most neglected players have a chance to come out of the ordeal alive.

With that said, the level designs for the map themselves tend to range from bog-standard to obfuscating annoyances. It’s clear human players are meant to have a more versatile skill set for evading Klown attacks, and some of them exist, like vaulting over obstacles or locking doors, but verticality is almost non-existent.

An in-game screenshot of Killer Klowns from Outer Space: The Game, showcasing a Klown preparing to hook a cotton candy cocoon to a generator inside a fairground.

When it comes to core gameplay, or actually executing actions like evading and attacking, Killer Klowns plays like an awkward version of Dead By Daylight mixed with Dead Rising. Klowns tend not to focus on melee combat, as their cotton candy weapons are faster than a rubber mallet to the head, but this just makes the human side of things – and indeed, the hit detection when swinging away – all the more worse. Everything has so much weight to it, and almost no feedback, just a small hitmarker on an atrociously-presented UI.

So this will lead to a lot of cheap deaths on both sides, but on the human side of things, death isn’t a “sit back and put the controller down” moment. If you’re spectating another player, you can partake in microgames that can grant said player random items that range from health and powerups to weapons.

It’s actually a really nice touch, encouraging engagement at all times, even though without communication, a lot of the time, you’ll leave a breadcrumb trail of items due to a full inventory, and an intrusive pop-up on their screen each time.

Honestly, Killer Klowns’ biggest issue is that there’s something about the presentation that tends to take itself a bit too seriously. There’s an air to the ordeal, from gameplay to atmosphere, to the general UX, that implies it’s a lot scarier than what it actually is. Is that wrong? Not at all, but the game tends to struggle, even more so than the movie, as to whether it wants to be an actual fear-inducer, or a pisstake among friends.

An in-game screenshot of Killer Klowns from Outer Space: The Game, showcasing a Klown driving around the map in an invisible car.

It doesn’t help that aesthetically, it doesn’t seem to be inspired from the movie all that much, even when you go past visual design. Instead, you have Killer Klowns emulating that typical 80s style, and you know what that means; purple tints, VHS fonts, and fake tracking issues. There’s an alien spaceship shaped like a circus in the film, filled with all types of atypical visual design , and instead, we’re in what looks like Raccoon City, but it’s been attacked by The Blob.

Still, all of this is Illfonic’s wheelhouse, their forte, their particular brand of poison. The edgy jank experience of a unique multiplayer rodeo that juggles between several different mechanics, and this seems to be the first time where, alongside Teravision, they might have a hit on their hands. While Dead Alliance and Friday the 13th suffered from a case of “right place, wrong time”, Killer Klowns has enough mechanical gas in the tank and replay value to justify its presence.

Killer Klowns from Outer Space: The Game Review | Final Verdict

Did I enjoy Killer Klowns? 100 percent, I’d be imprisoned for perjury if I said otherwise, and there’s enough here to bash any nay-sayers who’d propose a more straightforward crossover. It may look generic, both in motion and its arduously forced 80s static, but there are enough inventive ideas under the makeup to see Killer Klowns for what it is.

Not just a competitor, but a fun time.

Killer Klowns from Outer Space: The Game was reviewed on Xbox Series S, using a copy provided by the developer over the course of 12 hours of gameplay – all screenshots were taken during the process of review.

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