Erik Hodges of Try Hard Guides was won over hard by Slay the Princess, the fully-voiced surreal horror visual novel developed by Black Tabby Games (Scarlet Hollow), rating the game a rare 10/10! With each hand-drawn scene by Ignatz-winning graphic novelist Abby Howard, he was lured deeper into the game’s growing horrors… many of which were less about the immediate visceral depictions, and more about what the game forces its erstwhile princess-slayers to contemplate.

Not to spoil the game’s story, which is full of incredible surprises and concepts so deep that I actually feel a little shaken after playing, but the seemingly infinite branching paths available in the game sort of tie into the themes of the story. Themes such as choice, the value of experience, and the influence of perspective appear to be central to the game. If there are a few themes I’ve missed there, it’s because this high-concept writing frankly made me feel a little stupid with its unexpected depth of meaning. It’s a psychological and cosmic horror that constantly shifts in new directions you won’t be able to expect and shocks you with its ending.

Though that’s not to say that there isn’t plenty of visceral horrors involved as well. The game does not shy from depicting the eponymous violence at hand, utilizing the gore to heighten the terrifying nature of its interactions. Black Tabby Games has provided a list of content warnings for those who require them.

Neither the story nor the art are afraid to get violent. On-screen discussions of serious topics, such as suicide, along with drawn portrayals of unusually gory violence, contribute to the game’s distinctly terrifying vibe. It feels like an old obscure horror movie your parents would not allow you to watch and one that never airs on any channel. It all just comes together perfectly, creating a game that’s as memorable for its horror as for its thought-provoking themes.

Slay the Princess is out today on Steam, and is available for Windows, MacOS, and Linux.