Remember those cheesy horror movies you used to see at Blockbusters? The ones which hardly anyone ever rented because they were just that awful? Well Slayaway Camp takes a parody approach to those films, letting you, the killer, loose on unsuspecting teenagers on field trips, poor families on camping vacations in the woods, and basically any other block-headed (literally) victims…
The gameplay is isometric, meaning you, the killer can only move in straight lines, and you don’t have any control over when your character stops. Only once you hit an object or kill a foe will you stop moving forwards. This means you have to carefully manipulate the world around you in order to progress through a level. Your aim is to kill everyone on the small map presented to you. Remember those ice floor puzzles out of Pokemon...? These hellish things? Well if you didn’t get on with those, you are in for a bumpy ride here, unfortunately.
The first few stages offer you quite a bit of room for mistakes. There will be an obvious solution to these early stages, but once you start reaching even the third stage of Slayaway Camp, you will find yourself having to replay levels because you messed up, for example, your ordering of movement or of killing people. You need to complete most levels in perfect order or else you will find yourself stuck in a never ending loop. The puzzle aspect of this game is very challenging and will definitely have people scratching their heads until it all finally clicks.
The game is split 10 “videos” and each “video” contains around 20 scenes. Where I was particularly impressed with Slayaway was the amount of extra cut scenes that were added as a sort of “kill cam”. When you murder one of your targets, you’ll get a short cutscene of some gruesome murder being carried out. Well, they aren’t exactly as gruesome as you’d expect - a bit more comical than that; think of the way Worms shows its killing. You can even unlock different scenes using the game’s currency, earned from completing stages. This little feature gives the game some solid comedy value and does detract away from the gruesomeness of the killings, as they are done in a way to make you laugh rather than squirm.
Slayaway Camp has a voxel-style graphical look, which is usually a style that I really detest; however the design worked well with the isometric view and colourful nature of this game. Even though the textures are basic and low-resolution, you can still tell a lot of effort went into making them look presentable because they all look really nice. Even the game’s animation style is done well. I didn’t expect to see a lot from Slayaway Camp on this side of things, but the in-game motion and cutscene movements are all really well done and add to the comical nature of the game. Some of the cut scenes can involve your character dropping the victim into a food blender...I mean c’mon?!
The developers have somehow managed to get some big name voice actors to be a part of this game too. Mark Meer (Commander Shepard from Mass Effect) plays the main character, Skullface, and Derek Mears (from Friday 13th) makes an appearance as “Jessica”. I dread to think of just how much these actors cost, but they do add that high production value to the game that pushes this title to the next level.
All of Slayaway’s levels are extremely well-designed with a wide variety of different obstacles, objects, and foes in your way. Some of my favorite levels were the ones that allowed you to push bookshelves on your victims. Not gonna lie, it makes a very satisfying sound. Many of the levels also include the police force in some way, whether through having actual Police Officers on the ground out to catch you or a imposing a movement limit until the SWAT team arrive to mow you down.
The game has over 200 levels, but with tons of unlockables and collectibles to get, if you enjoy the gameplay you might find yourself playing this game even well after completion. The variety in kill scenes and character skins will all add to the replayability.
I did notice a little bit of a technical issue when using a controller with the game. When in gameplay, there were no issues; in fact playing on a controller was probably my preferred method. However, operating the menus with the controller was almost impossible. I think the developers tried to incorporate mouse control with the joysticks because when you move the stick the cursor moves in a janky way, but also only slightly; you just cannot click on things with precision that way. It wasn’t a massive problem for me since I was sat at my desk anyway, but it would have been a big problem if I were on my sofa, playing.
If you are looking for a game to play this Halloween, but don’t want to poop yourself, then Slayaway Camp will fit the bill quite nicely. I enjoyed my time spent with the game, only my lack of knowledge and skill kept me from finishing puzzles - they just became too much for me, but anyone with a logical thinking brain will be able to get the full experience out of Slayaway Camp. With the game being priced so low at $8.99, you can’t go wrong picking this title up.