Slayaway Camp is a slide puzzler with a difference; you play as the brutal murderer, Skullface, solving ever more difficult puzzles to reach the end portal to progress onto the next scene. Is it violent? Yes. Is it challenging? Definitely. But is it fun?
The basis of the game is simple, you need to move your killer through a gridded system, allowing you to only move up, down, left and right, killing people in a specific order to progress. You can view the world in either an isometric or top down view, which can be changed during play to get the best view possible in order to complete the puzzle.
With this being the “Butcher’s Cut” you will get the main campaign as well as all the later added DLC. This means you have 300+ fiendish levels to complete and over 60 killers to choose from, so there’s plenty to keep your hunger for killing at bay, at least for a good while.
You play through a series of movies in the form of VHS tapes, each with its own setting and killer. Each movie has around 10 to 15 puzzles or “scenes” to solve, each with different scenarios, different characters and levels which sharply increase in difficulty as you reach the end. As these levels get harder they start to throw in a range of obstacles for you to avoid. These can be mines, fire pits, holes and even just water. They aren’t always inanimate objects though, and you will eventually have to work around police and SWAT teams, just to keep you on your toes. You will need to avoid these completely, face your demise or, more sinisterly, lure an unsuspecting victim into them to help you reach your goal. You don’t always have to kill people first either, lots of puzzles need you to scare victims onto a specific point on the map, allowing you to complete the cycle, kill them last and be on the right block to get to the portal.
At the end of each “scene” you get a chance to get a perfectly timed kill, which involves some kind of sharp instrument to the face. This is done by stopping a moving marker in the “kill zone”. A well timed tap will result in a spectacular death and some coins to spend on new gore packs, which there are over 90 of. Purchasing and unlocking these packs allow you to learn new, ever more brutal finishing moves to keeps things varied.
If at any point these challenges get a bit too much and you find yourself either throwing your Switch out the window or banging your head against the wall, you can spend some of your well earned in-game currency and get either a small hint for a small price (25 coins) or if you’re really stuck you can spend 100 coins and be given the full walkthrough. There will definitely be multiple occasions where you’ve killed everyone but are now unable to reach the portal as you’ve done so in the wrong order. I have to admit that after multiple attempts I usually found myself getting the correct sequence but every once in a while I needed the whole clue!
Each movie has its own killer with more unlocked as you play. You also get to choose your killer in each movie; whether that be the character assigned to the movie or another instead. It always looks great when for some reason you’re playing as a clown, chasing camp counsellors through the woods. Slayaway Camp doesn’t always have to be a murderous splatterfest though, and you can actually turn on a ‘PG’ mode which takes away the completely outrageous, sometimes comically brutal killings and make it, for lack of a better phrase, more “family friendly”.
The soundtrack, performed entirely by legendary Canadian group GNÜ TRUNTION, is a glorious throwback to the classic horror movies. It’s wobbly, low bassed and full of creepy tones that bring you right back to Halloween or the original Friday 13th. Slayaway Camp has numerous homages to classic horrors, with iconic killers such as a Freddy inspired character, classic camp counselors settings and even iconic weapons such as chainsaws and machetes.
Graphically and it has to be said that things are very simple; the killer, victims and the surrounding area are all voxel, Minecraft style graphics. This simplicity means no flashy graphics get in the way of puzzle solving, you aren’t distracted by how beautiful the skin textures are, how luscious the trees are, or even how realistic the kills are as you watch someone’s head split in half. If fact, it’s the complete opposite and that makes this game so much fun. Because the characters are so blocky, a style normally taken from simpler games aimed at children, it creates the humour as a cubed Jason from Friday 13th or Killer Clown sets a person on fire or throws a spear into their abdomen. This creates a lot of laughs throughout and as you unlock more types of kills with coins, you will only laugh harder.
Slayaway Camp’s aesthetics don’t match its time. Its cute characters look harmless, but under the hood it’s a brutally violent throwback to 70’s, 80’s and 90’s horror movies. You slice, dice and splatter your way through levels and it is an absolute joy. It can get very frustrating at times when you try over and over again to complete a puzzle, but that can be solved through sheer persistence or by buying yourself a clue. Usually having so many levels can be a blessing, but I’ll have to admit that after 150 odd puzzles, things do start to get a little samey.
Don’t let its childish looks fool you though, this really is “splatterlicious” violence at its best.
Massive thanks to: Digerati
Release date: March 2018
Formats: Nintendo Switch (Review), Xbox One, PS4