Killer Queen Black – Review

Releasing on Xbox Game Pass or for just over £16, Killer Queen Black is a 2D battle arena game that sees colonies of bee’s battle for supremacy.
Originally released on PC back in 2019, and based on the 2013 arcade game Killer Queen, KQB makes it’s way to the Xbox promising intense and fun multiplayer battles.

Similar to games like Astronauts or even #iDarb, Killer Queen Black is set on a 2D battlefield. Each team starts off with 4 players, one controlling a queen and the others each playing as a worker, there are multiple paths to victory and your team can claim the win with either an economic, military or snail victory.
On the battlefield there are numerous flowers containing orbs (or nectar) workers can collect a single orb and return it to the base, or use it in a power-up pod to change into a soldier who, like the queen, can attack opposition bees, but can’t pick up other orbs.

Filling your hive with orbs will net an economic victory, or you can kill the enemy queen three times for a military victory. The third win condition is often the slowest, with a large snail in the middle of the screen, which a worker can ride, slowly towards their own goal, once you’re on a snail it will stop to eat enemy workers, but you’re vulnerable to a quick kill from the queen or a soldier.

The three win conditions mean you can be useful no matter what role you take, I’ve seen some games where a team wins solely because the queen was constantly evading opposition, causing a distraction while her workers quickly returned orbs, other times, a single worker on the snail made for an easy win backed up by his queen and two soldiers who dispatched anyone who came close and some teams will go for all-out attack forgetting about the snail and orbs to get 3 soldiers beside a queen who quickly dispatched the enemy team (and queen) and without a doubt, you’ll see and suffer far more military victories than the other two especially in lower ranks when queens are maybe a little less tactical about their approach.

This does however mean teamwork is key, so having a few friends online is far more rewarding than heading into random matches solo, the difference between an organised team and 4 solo players is night and day and heading into a game with any sort of strategy or tactics will generally make for easy wins against the unprepared.

It is however incredibly easy to pick up and play, and a lot of fun, sure there’s judging the distances of jumps or your attacks, but within five minutes you’re likely to be as good as the vast majority of players. Likewise, the more initiated who have those distances down to a tee, will rip through an enemy team and soon enough you’ll come across a team full of experienced players who are going to feel near impossible to beat.

Thankfully there’s leagues and rankings, so matchmaking is pretty fair, and there’s a nice sense of progression as you work you gain experience and naturally become better at the game, but with such a heavy emphasis on team-work, it’s going to be far more enjoyable with friends.

Graphically, KQB is a little disappointing, I appreciate it remains true to the 2013 original which has a novel 8-bit style, but I would have loved to see the last 15 months of Killer Queen Black spent on maybe adding a new texture pack or updated backgrounds, but it’s fair to say it’s much more about the experience as opposed to the visualisation, the game does run silky smooth with no graphical hiccups, so bonus points for overall performance.
Audio is fine, again, not a real strong point, but once again feels very retro and arcade-like, for non-game pass users, it’s a game that’s likely to run on most PC’s with ease, and it’s less than half the price on Steam than it is Xbox, so with no major improvements (and cross-play support).

Overall, Killer Queen Black is a great Game Pass addition, but it’s a little tough to recommend a full purchase unless you’ve got a team of friends to play with regularly.

Gameplay - 8.5
Graphics - 7.5
Sound - 7.5
Story - 7.5
Value - 8.5


Overall, Killer Queen Black is a great Game Pass addition, but it's a little tough to recommend a full purchase unless you've got a team of friends to play with regularly.

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