Review: Slayaway Camp: Butcher’s Cut (Switch)

Puzzle games usually aren’t this violent or funny.

By Andy Hoover. Posted 06/29/2018 11:00 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
1-Up Mushroom for...
Solid puzzle mechanics; lots of content; fantastic audio and visual presentation; loads of charm and plenty of humor.
Poison Mushroom for...
A few annoying glitches; inconsistent difficulty curve; some poor menu choices; violence might turn some off.

When you hear about an indie game called Slayaway Camp that happens to be inspired by classic slasher movies from the 1980s, what genre would you expect it to be? Horror, or maybe action, right? Nope! It’s a puzzle game, and a surprisingly fun one at that!

In Slayaway Camp, you play as a slasher villain trying to murder its way through a progression of puzzles divided into a series of “movies” inspired by horror classics. This concept allowed the developers to have a lot of fun in thinking up a large variety of characters, locations, and executions introduced throughout the game. You start as a Jason-esque killer in generic camps but eventually progress to amusement parks, high schools, and even Christmas themed stages as a killer Santa. Furthermore, completing stages gives you the opportunity to earn coins that can be exchanged for new character models and execution animations.

While all this talk of murder might have more squeamish players worried they won’t be able to stomach the game’s violence, rest assured, the brutality is surprisingly cute. The game features a blocky, cartoonish art style that makes the blood and dismemberment rather charming and frequently as funny as it is ridiculous. However, if the game’s approach to violence is still too much for you, there is the option to turn the violence down from R to PG.

The quirky visual design is matched with an appropriate and enjoyable auditory experience. The general background music fits the concept very well but the game also includes a number of ’80s inspired pop and rock songs based around some of the fake movies. These songs are appropriately cheesy and fun, much like the many movie tie-in theme songs from the era. Each “movie” is also introduced with a fake trailer including a corny, cliché-filled voice over that is often hilarious. The squishy side effects and self-aware, random bits of dialogue sprinkled throughout help round out the package.

While Slayaway Camp’s greatest strength is in its presentation, it is wrapped around some solid, generally enjoyable puzzle mechanics. Each level presents a grid riddled with targets to murder and obstacles in the way and your character can only slide in straight lines up, down, left, and right. Since each move sends the killer sliding in your chosen direction until he hits some sort of obstacle, you have to carefully choose the right moves in order to complete each stage. As the game progresses, new challenges are introduced that complicate your murderous efforts. These range from law enforcement who can arrest you to land mines that can kill you just as well as your targets. Thankfully, you can easily rewind your movements and quickly restart stages, so trying again after a mistake is relatively painless.

The core gameplay is definitely fun and the presentation is incredibly charming, but there are a few issues that interrupt the fun. First, the developers opted for a roller coaster shaped difficulty curve. This isn’t a bad idea by itself; most games features ups and downs in their difficulty, after all. But Slayaway Camp features some frustrating spikes that seem more random and imbalanced compared to some later stages. Second, there is a strange glitch involving the presentation. If you die or are captured by cops, the game starts rolling faux-credits; however, sometimes when you rewind your game-ending move, the credits remain on screen as the gameplay fades to black. This is easily fixed by restarting the stage, but the way the game is designed, you are meant to be able to go back to your previous move. Finally, when in portable mode, most of the main menu can only be utilized via the touch screen, while some items can be accessed through button presses. The lack of consistency is strange here, and there really isn’t a good design reason for it.

Slayaway Camp is an all-around solid puzzle game. The core gameplay is enjoyable despite a few nagging flaws, but it’s really the presentation that makes the game noteworthy. The developers clearly have a love for ’80s slasher flicks and it is made apparent by every second spent with the game. The visual references, music, and dialogue not only highlight the developer’s taste in movies, but they also give the game an extra layer of humor and charm. The silly, over-the-top violence is also a part of this, and while this might turn some off to the game, I think most gamers will get a kick out of the discrepancy between the cutesy visuals and the ridiculous brutality.

Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.

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