Slayaway Camp from Blue Wizard Digital
Slayaway Camp is about as close to a murder simulator as a cutesy, voxel-based puzzle game can get. This is perhaps not an endearing description, but it does help to sum up the unusual combination of genres at work here. Slayaway Camp is both a tongue-in-cheek homage to ’80s slasher films and a tricky puzzler. The question is how well do these two jarringly different concepts merge?
Hack ‘n’ Slash ‘n’ Slide
Slayaway provides a combination of brief cutscenes and neat little “back of VHS tape” summaries to present its setting. The story needs little introduction, however; if you’ve seen a slasher movie before you’re prepared for the plot of Slayaway Camp. The game does a fantastic job of satirizing the story of famous ’80s flicks and their inevitably hammy sequels, putting the player in the role of the killer. But this is far from an action game – murder requires a little more finesse here.
Slayaway Camp is a puzzler based around sliding: anyone who has played some of the old Pokémon games will remember this kind of puzzle. Your character can move, but only in a straight line, and they must continue sliding along until they impact a solid object. In order to finish a level, all potential victims must be killed, and the killer must exit via a pentagram symbol on the ground.
I was a little concerned that this kind of puzzle lacked the depth to supply content for an entire game, but Slayaway Camp manages to keep shaking things up with interesting new threats like police and SWAT troopers that make traversing the level more difficult.
Death Becomes You
There are some fun little twists, like cats which must not be murdered (animal cruelty is off the table here). I found these additions kept things fresh for the most part, but puzzle fatigue does eventually set in. Thankfully, Slayaway Camp offers hints when necessary, and alternative levels open up so that there are alternatives if a particular stage is becoming frustrating.
The difficulty curve is well-balanced, with levels broken up into individual “movies” which bring new puzzle elements. The stages towards the end of each movie definitely ramp up the challenge, and the final level is always especially tricky. There is usually a neat little theme to the final stage of each batch, too; I was particularly amused by the title of the stage “Chippin’ Dale,” which calls for the last target, camp counselor Dale, to be pushed into a wood chipper. Dark humor abounds in Slayaway Camp.
Being voxel-based, Slayaway is very boxy in appearance, but the developers have done a great job of leveraging this aesthetic to the game’s benefit. The characters manage to be both cute and just irritating enough for you to want to kill them. Gore is optional, and blood can become quite prolific on the higher settings. The music is excellent, setting a dark tone which seems oddly amusing given the contrasting visuals.
Slayaway Camp is an intriguing combination of ideas; a satire (and homage) of ’80s slasher films combined with a well-produced puzzler makes for an unusual but appealing game. The core puzzle concept isn’t especially original, and it does begin to lose its flare after a while, but new threats and level variations keep coming, and there are many collectibles (including an array of comical death animations) to unlock.
Slayaway Camp may only be original in its theme, but it’s certainly worth a look for any fan of puzzlers or slasher B-movies.
Slawayay Camp is available on the iTunes App Store and Steam.
Watch the official trailer for Slayaway Camp below: