Developer: Blue Wizard Digital
Publisher: Digerati Distribution
Format(s): Playstation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One
I really, really, REALLY love horror movies, whether it’s the horrifying stalking kills of Jason in the Friday the 13th series, the deadly dreams of Nightmare on Elm Street, or even a killer clown using your fears against you in IT. There’s always a unsettling and frightening feeling to be had when watching them, but seriously, I just can’t get enough of it.
I also just so happen to like sliding puzzles. You know the type – where you’ve got to move a character or object across specific lanes with different obstacles in the way to block their path. It’s a tried and tested puzzling formula that’s been used in a multitude of games, but they’ve always been something I’ve enjoyed solving.
Naturally then, Slayaway Camp: Butcher’s Cut massively appealed to me. Mixing up a huge assortment of these sliding puzzles with a horror movie-inspired theme, everything about it resonated with me. I’ve spent a good few hours playing it now and I can confirm that the horrifying puzzles make for a great little concoction too, and even now I still find myself returning to the game time and time again to play it.
Slayaway Camp: Butcher’s Cut sees you taking on the role of a wide variety of horror movie-inspired serial killers that have to kill a bunch of teenagers. What else would you expect? Of course, there’s a twist to the formula in that you’re doing the killing by solving sliding puzzles.
This means taking your killer through grid based levels and sending them sliding either up, down, left, or right. Once you send your killer in a direction they’ll keep moving until something blocks their path, be it an obstacle in the environment or one of your victims. You can then move them again in another direction and keep going until you end up taking everyone out. Simple.
I’m probably selling it a little short there, because there’s a lot more to the experience than that. Every level takes strategic planning and sometimes demand that you move around in a specific order if you want to take everyone out – they’re all puzzles, so there’s always a fixed solution. Because you move in a sliding motion, you can’t just move one tile at a time in a direction to get near someone though; you have to use the environment around you to block your path in order to reach your goal. It’s a lot more complicated than it sounds, but it’s all easy to work out when you’re actually playing the game.
Each set of levels you encounter in the game is based upon a different movie, so you’ll go across a wide variety of locations throughout your murdering adventure. This might be through the titular campsite, some murky mines, a creepy amusement park, or even a Christmas themed winter-wonderland. There’s a great range of environments throughout the game, with each one ensuring that the experience stays fresh and always gives you something different to look at.
Of course, Slayaway Camp: Butcher’s Cut also introduces different gameplay dynamics into each level to ensure you’re doing something different throughout too. For example, if you manage to position your killer next to one of the teenagers they’ll run away scared. This can be used from a puzzle-solving perspective though since you’ll then be able to use them as an obstacle to reach a previously inaccessible area of a level.
There’re also hazards to avoid, police who want to arrest you, animals that you have to avoid killing (only human killing is allowed here, thank you) and interactive objects like telephones to distract your victims. There’s a lot to think about in each level and it’s never just a case of moving your killer around to kill everyone, but instead carefully planning out your route and how you’re going to take everyone down effectively.
Naturally, with so much forward-thinking required there’ll be plenty of moments where you’ll mess up in Slayaway Camp: Butcher’s Cut, but fortunately there’s a rewind function in place that’ll allow you to either undo your last move on a step-by-step basis or alternatively start from scratch immediately. It’s a great little feature and one that I actually found myself using a lot of – Slayaway Camp: Butcher’s Cut can be tough, so there’ll be plenty of moments where you’ll need to revise what you’ve done so far and figure out that one move that you’re constantly messing up. When you finally hit that ‘eureka’ moment and solve a puzzle that had you stumped for a while though, it’s very satisfying and typically motivate you to keep going on in the game.
Those who need a helping hand can actually buy hints though, as well as the full solution to a puzzle. There are better things to spend your hard earned in-game currency on though, with different killers and even more brutal kills available in the store. Still, sometimes you do need help, and I have to admit that I did purchase the occasional hint to get through some sticky situations. I’m not proud of it…
Whilst there’s plenty to do and a decent amount of variety in Slayaway Camp: Butcher’s Cut, there’s no denying it can get repetitive over time. I struggled to stick it with it for sessions lasting over an hour, and whilst it does have that ‘one more go’ appeal to it, you’ll also get to a point where you’ve had enough. It’s the kind of game that’s easy to pick up and play time and time again though. In between my sessions of this Fall’s blockbusters, I’ve also spent a ton of hours solving puzzles as a serial killer and it’s been a lot of fun.
Whilst its simplicity and lack of gameplay variety during some of the latter stages might not appeal to all gamers, I actually found Slayaway Camp: Butcher’s Cut to be a lot of fun and something I still find myself coming back to time and time again.
The horror movie theme is fantastic, the visual style itself is surprisingly cute and charming (and bloody, don’t forget bloody), whilst the sheer volume of different levels and unlockables on offer means you’ll get a good few hours out of the game. If you’re a fan of a good puzzler and also enjoy yourself some horror movies, Slayaway Camp: Butcher’s Cut is simply an essential purchase.