Back in October of 2022, I had the pleasure of interviewing the creative minds behind Black Tabby Games about their newest endeavor, Slay the Princess, a narrative horror-comedy voiced by Jonny Sims and Nicole Goodnight which just released on October 23, 2023.
I played the demo back when it was first released and fell absolutely in love with the game. Now with the full release, I'm happy to say that adoration has only increased.
You are here to slay the princess
According to the description listed on Steam...
You're on a path in the woods, and at the end of that path is a cabin. And in the basement of that cabin is a Princess.
You're here to slay her. If you don't, it will be the end of the world.
She will do everything in her power to stop you. She'll charm, and she'll lie, and she'll promise you the world, and if you let her, she'll kill you a dozen times over. You can't let that happen. Don't forget, the fate of the world rests on your shoulders.
In Slay the Princess, you work with (or against) the voices in your head to make decisions and ultimately figure out if you're going to...well, it's all in the name, isn't it? Fascinatingly, every choice you make, no matter how small, affects how the game progresses and the ultimate ending to which you arrive.
A single playthrough of Slay the Princess took me three and a half hours, and I can honestly say that I would have been more than happy to play for hours more afterward if I'd been able to that day. The game is hilarious and terrifying in equal measure, with an enthralling visual and written style that makes you want to explore every nook and cranny of the world as it's presented to you. I fully intend to go back and get every ending possible, a feat that Black Tabby Games says can take upwards of 20 hours, which I can definitely believe.
The weight of choices
There are, quite literally, hundreds of choices to make in Slay the Princess, but surprisingly, each and every single one feels important and impactful. I can confidently say that there wasn't one point in the game where I felt pigeonholed by the narrative (well, at least not unintentionally); I felt continuously curious about the results of my actions as I made them.
A minor spoiler, perhaps, but the game is separated into a chapter system that helps you keep track of your progress. These chapters are intensely customizable and reflect the choices you made in the previous one, both visually and narratively. I was in turns laughing and holding my breath, loving the anticipation and nervousness that each new chapter title card brought, and thrilled with the addition of each new voice and character.
This customization adds an intense feeling of narrative weight, causing you to stop and consider what you say and do and how it might affect the world around you. Each decision feels real and thoughtful, which is difficult to do in a game as narratively diverse as this. It reminded me of playing Undertale for the first time, in a strange way; I never quite knew what was going to happen next but I couldn't wait to find out.
The impact of perspective
I'd say that one of the most interesting things about Slay the Princess is its use of perspective. As with every other aspect of the game, this idea is woven both into the narrative design of the game and its visual style.
Your choices change the way you and your character can interact with the world, what that world looks like, and how the other...well, I hesitate to call them other characters as there are technically only two characters in the game, but how the other voices interact with you. For example, bold decisions can literally shrink and shake the world around you and cause the other voices to make bolder declarations. That being said, the perspectives you take on may not be what you expect; caution can make the world safer or more dangerous, depending on the context.
In the same way that choice is given weight, perspective is precisely how the game defines itself. Again without spoiling too much, perspective becomes a major point in the game. How you see your mission can define whether that mission is as simple as it seems.
Tony and Abby have very much outdone themselves. Slay the Princess's full release builds on the comedic yet suspenseful atmosphere established in the demo, taking the brilliant concept and realising it into a full story with depth and philosophical intensity that leaves you thinking about it long after you finish your first playthrough. Its refreshing pencilwork art and intriguingly limited setting make it feel clever and exciting in equal measure. It is well worth the cost as a game that pushes the boundaries of its genre.
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