This is not, despite what you may think from the title, a game about the dangers of going swimming too soon after eating.

No, Krampus Kills is a first person shooter (FPS) mixed with German folklore, where Krampus is apparently some kind of big deal. So, given that we are playing an FPS where the playable character is an obnoxious 11-year old child, and we still end up with a shotgun, is it all as weird as it sounds? Well, at risk of slight spoilers – yes, yes it is. 

krampus kills review 1

Krampus is a character from German folklore, the kind of Anti-Santa, if you like. Whereas Santa will punish naughty children by bringing them coal, Krampus has a more kind of hands-on approach – if he catches you, he will kill you. That game title must have written itself, eh? So, what the story of Krampus Kills brings is this – Krampus has come to town, to our house to be precise, and he has brought a load of baddies with him. The thing is, Krampus is unkillable – he can be stunned very briefly, but that’s all – and so when he chases us, it is a case of trying to get out of his line of sight and then hiding. He can hear very well too, and if we make a sound (such as by standing on the Christmas decorations in the first level) he will be there before you can say “don’t kill me, Krampus!”. Can we escape and survive? Will anyone ever care?

Graphically and Krampus Kills is serviceable, but one thing it does do well is create an atmosphere of tension – as you go sneaking around, you can hear Krampus nearby, his thudding footsteps and jingling bells a reminder to keep low and keep quiet. Once the rest of the enemies show up, well then it descends into the realms of Christmas farce, but the Krampus bits are pretty cool. The enemies are fairly generic though; bulbous eyed Elves that are just begging to be shot in the face, Christmas zombies (where would we be without zombies?), some kind of mutated reindeer that looks more like something from Dead Space, alongside evil snowmen, ensures that the scene is set for some good shooting fun. 

Soundwise it is  also pretty good, with the jingling footsteps bringing dread, and the rest of the sounds are pretty much as you’d expect; even the atmospheric music fits pretty well. All in all, as long as you don’t have to actually shoot anything or watch the graphics in motion, it looks pretty good. You may think I am damning the game with faint praise, and there’s a good reason for that…

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You see, at its heart, Krampus Kills is basically a pursuer game, where we are constantly being chased by an enemy we can’t defeat. Think Nemesis in Resident Evil and you won’t be a million miles away. The game is also full of jump scares and does do a pretty good job of drawing you in and then going “Rarrr!”.

But, let’s look at the actual gameplay, shall we? I feel we should as the news here is slightly less good. The shooting is very underwhelming, honestly, and the gun seems to have no heft or feel to it. Given that we are an 11-year old child and we can, at an early stage, upgrade our double barrelled shotgun into the Noob Eater, a quad barrel shotgun, you’d expect the kid to break in two if he fired the thing. But, no problem, he handles the shotgun as well as Marcus Fenix handles a Gnasher – it just seems a bit strange. 

But hold on, there is more. Every wall in the game appears to be porous – our hero can wander up to, look through, but not pass through. It is actually worse if Krampus should catch you as his killing animation is to lift you into the air and break your neck. I’ll gloss over how his hand appears to have a mind of its own when it grabs you, but if he does nab you near a wall, he will quite often lift you through the wall or the ceiling (or both) and so the animation gets even stupider. In addition, the hit mechanics have no feel to them either, with the enemy quite often coming up behind you for a nibble on your arse; the first you know about it being when the game over screen appears. With checkpoints being very widely spaced, this gets pretty annoying. 

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The controls aren’t great either. X is the interact button, but if you have the flashlight turned on (which you will, as it is pretty  dark) then the prompt to pick something up, which is written in white, disappears in the glare of light. Not to mention that you have to be pixel perfect in order to pick up ammo, rather than just grabbing it as you run over it like in every other game. The map that brings Krampus Kills together is basic in the extreme, and in a maze-like level like the Hospital, this gets very confusing. 

What we have in Krampus Kills is an atmospheric Christmas horror game that is badly hamstrung by the actual game part of that description. It plays badly, it controls poorly (you’ll want the sprint button in order to keep moving faster than an arthritic woodlouse) and even the puzzle elements are an exercise in frustration, mostly as controller optimisation is very poor. 

All in all, if you find Krampus Kills in your Christmas stocking, you’ve clearly been very naughty indeed. 

Krampus Kills is on the Xbox Store

This is not, despite what you may think from the title, a game about the dangers of going swimming too soon after eating. No, Krampus Kills is a first person shooter (FPS) mixed with German folklore, where Krampus is apparently some kind of big deal. So, given that we are playing an FPS where the playable character is an obnoxious 11-year old child, and we still end up with a shotgun, is it all as weird as it sounds? Well, at risk of slight spoilers - yes, yes it is.  Krampus is a character from German folklore, the kind of…

Pros:

  • Good atmosphere
  • Krampus himself is well realised

Cons:

  • Shooting
  • Moving
  • Interacting with stuff
  • The camera is hilariously bad

Info:

  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - DangerousBob Studio
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One
  • Version reviewed - Xbox Series X
  • Release date - 2 December 2022
  • Launch price from - £12.49
TXH Score

1.5/5

Pros:

  • Good atmosphere
  • Krampus himself is well realised

Cons:

  • Shooting
  • Moving
  • Interacting with stuff
  • The camera is hilariously bad

Info:

  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - DangerousBob Studio
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One
  • Version reviewed - Xbox Series X
  • Release date - 2 December 2022
  • Launch price from - £12.49

User Rating: 5 ( 1 votes)
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