Videogames about slasher films can be a mixed bag. Some games have you play the survivors, which means you are playing from a point of weakness against a vastly superior enemy. That can be a bit nerve-wracking. Other games have you playing the killer, which sometimes make me question if it is really healthy to be hunting down people for fun. The older I get, the less sure I am of this. This can make finding a good game about slasher films tricky.
Slayaway Camp does something interesting. You are the killer, but instead of bullying defenseless teens, you are navigating your way along a course only able to move in the cardinal directions and only able to stop at walls or living bodies. That’s right, you’re playing a puzzle.
It is that puzzle element that takes the feeling of predatory power away from the player. Don’t get me wrong, you’re still knifing people and severing heads, but it is darn hard to do. The puzzles are tricky and the addition of police men, armed officers and freaking fire pits have you sympathizing with your favorite masked killer you next time you see a movie.
Did I mention that the art style is done in minimalist cubes? The people look like early attempts at Minecraft. When someone gets their head removed, it looks like a Lego block being pulled off. It really takes the away from the horror when everything looks so cute and adorable.
Added to the puzzle element is a lot of humor. Slayaway Camp loves all horror movies and tropes and will gleefully play with them all. The trailer that plays before every campaign really puts a lot of the blame on the dumbasses who decided that it was safe to go back to the murder camp. As an added challenge, no animals are allowed to be harm in the playing of the game, which means you spend a lot of time making sure you don’t endanger a darn cat. The overall effect is this feels less like a slasher simulator and more like the goofiest b-movie you have found on Shudder.
Slayaway Camp is open all year long.