Game Review: Slayaway Camp

This summer, no one is safe at… Slayaway Camp: The Review!

Blue Wizard Digital has created an insanely fun ode to ’80s slasher flicks. Slayaway Camp revisits iconic horror movies complete with ludicrous plots and retro VHS video effects. It features an army of killers and extensive library of gory deaths but its pixelated visuals and satirical approach to the tried and true formula of just killing dumb youths only improves the genre.

Slayaway Camp Puzzles

Narrative

This is a survival horror, who will make it to the end credits? Except it isn’t. You aren’t the helpless teenagers trying to stay alive. In Slayaway Camp you are the killer, Skull Face, or Jimsaw, or creepy little girl, or even Davi… er I mean Rupert S. Pumpkins (yes even him).  Your goal is to kill off the oversexed teenagers living it up by the lake.

Recalling archetypes from a wide spectrum of horror movies, Slayaway Camp relies heavily on the campiness of old slasher movies. Of course, there is no overt link but you can clearly see the inspiration in every killer and new film. These familiar settings provide new movies for your video store shelf and new abilities as the franchise evolves.

Gameplay

The video store shelves that make up the menu allow you to choose your cheesy slasher film or continue with your current flick. Choosing a movie transports you back to the days of scratchy VHS visuals and 80s horror movies. The movies are broken into scenes, each scene a new puzzle but the objective remains the same. Kill the teenagers.

The mechanics are fairly simple, you can move directly in a single direction until there is a barrier. It is possible to walk right into open pits or electric fences if you are not careful but it is also possible to chase your victims into them. The number of barriers you will encounter and the effects grow as the game progresses. Each new film adding a mechanic creating increasingly complicated puzzles. The game does explain any of them, opting rather to let the player experiment with new obstacles.

Certain obstacles can be manipulated to change the puzzle and threats to both you and your victims. Once you have eliminated them all you have to find your way to a pentagram to complete the puzzle. Sometimes the trickiest bit because it means you can’t just kill everyone sometimes you will need to approach deaths in strategic ways to find yourself in the right positions. You can rewind your movements at any time allowing you to undo any mistakes or restart the puzzle if you find yourself in an impossible position.

Slayaway Camp The Downsizers

The puzzles are absolutely addicting. The thrill of chasing pixelated teenagers around, the fun of brutally murdering them. Seriously, I can not undersell how satisfying the pixelated violence of the different “gore packs”. There are heaps of violent deaths waiting for these kids but the visual style makes them almost too enjoyable.

There are 10 films with about 13-16 scenes each. Once completed you can enjoy deleted scenes or an NC-17 cut from each movie which adds dozens of puzzles. You can also grind away on the “Faces of the Killed” which is just an endless loop of gory deaths. That means there is plenty of content to keep you amused. Honestly, I could murder these kids all day long.

Performance & Graphics

The retro vibe extends past the affinity for old school horror movies. The graphics are retro as well. They are pixelated although in 3D making the game seem like something from a twisted Minecraft fanatic. The figures are detailed enough that each model has a unique character and are amusing in their own ways but retain the retro design aesthetic. The animations for moving around each puzzle and the gore kills have a lot of character for such simple elements. There are a few nice extra touches such as the few added environmental effects and VHS visual effects that bring it all together.

Slayaway Camp Brutal Kills

An added benefit to the simplicity is the game doesn’t require to play. Even low-end machines should be able to run it requiring only 2GB of ram and integrated graphics and audio. Or in Blue Wizard Digital’s words: 

  • OS: Windows 3.11
  • Processor: Rocks
  • Graphics: Must be possible to connect a Monitor to it.
  • Storage: 300 MB available space
  • Sound Card: Must be able to connect speakers or headphones to it.

Audio

There is a familiar sound to Slayaway Camp. In keeping with its 80s themed slasher flicks the background audio is reminiscent of those classic horror movies. The narrator introducing each new movie with a satirical synopsis like “they thought the beach was safe…” Each subsequent description becoming more strained as if he were struggling to think of new variations on the plot. It completes the retro satire perfectly.

Slayaway Camp Robert J Pumpkins
He’s his own thing.

General effects like those of death sequences or the ambient serve as part of the setting well. The sound that is most frustrating and the one you encounter most often is that of your character moving around with every move. The only thing that drives me a little insane about the entire game but over 100 puzzles, hell 20 puzzles in, it grates on the nerves.

Final Thoughts

If you like puzzles, brain teasers, horror movies, or just good games Slayaway Camp is for you. Blue Wizard Digital have made the puzzler fun and challenging. The cartoon violence is satisfying as hell making the whole package incredibly gratifying. Some of the effects do drive me a bit insane but truth be told but if it does get to you know that this is a game that can be enjoyed just as much on mute.

There is a lot more to love about this game, it’s packed with character, challenging brain teasers, and humor. Chasing carefree teens around and brutally murdering them has never been so addictive and let’s face it, were you ever really rooting for the teens anyway?

Score: 9.5

This article was first published on DVSGaming.org

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