Slay the Princess gives you one simple task. Go into the cabin, find the Princess in the basement, and kill her. If you don’t, then it’ll be the end of the world. But, with a task so suspiciously easy it doesn’t come as a surprise when the alarm bells start ringing.
Whenever following an objective that's so clearly spelled out, I’m usually pretty fast in doing what I’m told. However, this indie horror game gives you the chance to go against the grain, and, depending on your moral compass, unlock some pretty macabre consequences.
If you only learn one thing from Slay the Princess, it’s to trust no one. Each decision you make has consequences, which you quickly learn. Because of this, you try to think tactically about how you can escape certain scenarios, but it’s essential to remember that your actions have consequences.
After regretting my decision to slay the Princess in the first sequence, and trying to reason with her in the next timeline, her nails quickly sank into my chest and pulled out my still-beating heart. But this despair that Slay the Princess presents is a constant reminder that there’s no easy way out, despite how pure your intentions are. It’s a constant battle between you, your internal monologues, and everything around you. And unfortunately, there is no right answer.
But while this lack of success could make for an unsatisfying gaming experience, there’s something about the storytelling and narration of Slay the Princess that keeps you coming back to see where the journey takes you next. It’s tense and unsettling but morbidly captivating enough to enchant you and keep you awake at night, dwelling on the what-ifs rather than the actions you did pursue during your playthrough.
My mirror's staring back at me
What impressed me the most about Slay the Princess was how the developer (Black Tabby Games) was able to manipulate your thinking through a choice-driven narrative, making you doubt yourself and everything around you. Each time you’re presented with a decision, you immediately overthink it. Usually, once I’ve made my mind up on which path I want to take, I can easily select the dialogue or actions to lead me down that road. However, the constant narration from each of the internal monologues of the heroes versus the contradictory speech from the narrator will always have you second-guessing your choices - even after you’ve made them.
This feature can drastically change the approach you take to the game. One action, such as going down the stairs without getting the dagger first, can flip the entire experience upside down. You have to think about what you’re doing and expect the unexpected; each move you make is such a gamble it makes it impossible to plan anything. This confusion feeds into the feeling of being unable to trust anyone within the game, including yourself, since there always seems to be a bad ending regardless of how much careful planning you do. Making a cut-throat decision (both literally and figuratively) has the same amount of payoff as something you’ve spent a decent few minutes considering, and it always feels like a lose-lose situation.
In addition, the looping nature of each passage you take, depending on your dialogue choices, means you’ll always end up where you start. You never feel like you’re getting anywhere, and while there is no right or wrong answer, naturally, going back on yourself feels like little to no progression was made. But that’s all part of the game's appeal, which I say incredibly lightly since it’s hardly charming and occasionally feels very frustrating due to the lack of evident progression. Still, that’s what makes Slay the Princess so unforgettable.
All these factors allow Slay the Princess to sit in your mind even after you feel like you’ve done as much as you can. It’s a game that plays on what-if scenarios rather than leaving you satisfied with your decisions, and even now, I keep thinking about how things would’ve played out if I had taken a different approach to certain situations. But, despite all these what-ifs, one thing I did appreciate about Slay the Princess is the inability to go back on yourself once you have made a choice. You set your actions in motion from the moment you pick an option, and as sour as some of the outcomes are, unfortunately, you just have to live with the consequences.
We’ve got all the best indie horror games if you’re looking for an adventure just as hair-raising. However, our guide to the best indie games may offer something slightly softer, as will our complete guide to the best cozy Switch games if you want to head in the complete opposite direction to the best horror games.
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Kara is an Evergreen writer at TechRadar Gaming. With a degree in Journalism and a passion for the weird and wonderful, she's spent the last few years as a freelance video game journalist, with bylines at NintendoLife, Attack of the Fanboy, Prima Games, and sister publication, GamesRadar+. Outside of gaming, you'll find her re-watching Gilmore Girls or trying to cram yet another collectible onto a shelf that desperately needs some organizing.