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Slayaway Camp: Butcher's Cut

Score: 90%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Digerati Distribution
Developer: Blue Wizard
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Puzzle

Graphics & Sound:

Slayaway Camp: Butcher's Cut is a quirky puzzle game that takes the absurdity of the 80's horror genre and runs with it.

Slayaway Camp takes a simplified approach to its graphics by depicting everything and everyone in a blocky style similar to Minecraft. Each character, be it killer, victim, cop, or cat, has just enough detail and definition to make it recognizable, but the blocky look of everything makes for a more simplified style that has a lot of appeal to it. The levels and their set pieces follow that trend by laying everything out in a grid that is just the right size to keep everything on the screen, but clearly depict everything you will have to maneuver around in order to complete your goals.

Slayaway Camp's music is almost a character of its own. Much like the rest of the game, the background tunes take a cue from '80s horror movies and do a fantastic job of setting the mood for the whole game. Even the game's announcer that sets up the absurd situations at the start of each "movie" feels like it's pulled from the era.


Gameplay:

Slayaway Camp: Butcher's Cut puts you in the role of a killer whose job is to murder all of the targets on the board and escape, but you have very limited movement. In fact, all you can do is decide which direction you want to move and your killer slides as many spaces in that direction he/ she/ it can. If it hits a victim, they are dead in one gruesome manner or another. As you slide around each level, you will have to figure out the exact right pattern given the scenario presented to you in order to complete the challenge.

Of course, as you progress through the game, Slayaway Camp introduces more and more mechanics, making each puzzle more complicated and interesting than the last. Sometimes, instead of killing a victim directly, you will only be able to slide next to them. This causes them to run away from the killer and, hopefully, into an environmental hazard (like a hole or a camp fire). If a person next to a potential victim dies, it will cause them to run away. Sometimes, the only way to solve a puzzle is to cause a chain reaction of scared victims all leading to their gruesome demises, or at least putting them in prime-killing position.

While your goal is to take out all of the people on the board, it does quickly introduce some special cases, namely cops. You don't have to kill the cops to beat the level, but you need to be mindful of them. If you stop directly in front of one, you're busted and it's game over. When Slayaway Camp starts outfitting the officers with laser sights, then you can't stop anywhere within their line of sight. To make matters worse, these particular police aren't easy to sneak up on like the normal cops. While there are ways to take care of these troublesome characters, not all solutions to the puzzles involve removing them from the equation, but it is clear that every piece on the board is there to either make the puzzle harder or to make that perfect path to success possible.

Other mechanics the game slowly throws into the mix include cats that, if killed, result in a game over; phones that will attract people (and scare cats); falling bookshelves that can be used to either kill victims or just change the layout of the map, and light switches that change how the people on the board react to the killer. More advanced additions include electric fences and teleporters, thanks to the Jason X nod, "Slayaway Camp X: Space Camp."

Slayaway Camp frames its many puzzles as if they were each from a 1980's slasher/ horror movie. The Butcher's Cut edition not only contains all 10 Slayaway Camp movies, but also the My Gory Valentine, Santa's Slay and HellCamp DLCs as well as a slew of extra killers to play around with.

Provided you've got the game set to the R rating where blood and gore are aplenty, between levels you will be treated to a mini-game that can earn you in-game currency used to purchase more blood-filled death scenarios called Gorepacks. If the blood is a bit too much though, you can flip the switch on its rating and most of the violence will be toned down. Granted, you won't make any money that way, but since you are really only using it to buy blood and gore anyway, that isn't too big of an issue.

What I truly found remarkable about Slayaway Camp is the sheer amount of content the game provided. Not only are there a ton of levels packed away in the thirteen different movies, but once you complete the 10 main Slayaway Camp films, the game unlocks Deleted Scenes and NC-17 versions. While the Deleted Scenes are only a few new levels for each movie, the NC-17 levels are the same layout as the original playthrough, but with the hazards and mechanics introduced in later levels, making them essentially brand new puzzles. According to the press release on Slayaway Camp: Butcher's Cut, this game boasts over 300 puzzles and I can easily believe it.


Difficulty:

Slayaway Camp: Butcher's Cut is a deceptively simple game. The rules don't change, but new complications are layered on top at almost every turn. As a result, what starts off as a simple and quick series of puzzles quickly grows into challenges that require planning and consideration. Thankfully, the game does offer quick and easy ways to back up step-by-step in order to undo your path, in case you find yourself in a tough spot.

There are also two levels of help the game can provide. The first time you ask for help on a level, it will cost you 25 coins and it will give you a hint. These can be anything from a comment about where a victim needs to be, to who you need to kill first, or even if some characters (like a cop or cat) need to be left alone. These are often helpful and most of the times that I relented and paid for a hint, this tidbit was enough to get me thinking in the right direction. If the solution still eludes you, then you can pay an additional 100 coins to watch a walkthrough of the level from start to finish. These were really rare cases for me, and in all cases, when I finally saw how it all played out, I realized the now-obvious moves I had overlooked.


Game Mechanics:

Slayaway Camp: Butcher's Cut isn't the first puzzle game I've seen to use the slide mechanic as its only form of movement. The first thing that comes to mind are the lock puzzles found in many Skylanders games, but Slayaway Camp takes that basic concept and stretches it out into new and interesting directions, making it a much fuller and more enjoyable experience than the mini-games seen elsewhere. By adding additional mechanics like phones and light switches, many of the ways your character can interact with the world change and make for a much deeper experience. What is great is the different ways the developers worked out how to use their various mechanics together. In one particularly tricky puzzle, you had to scare victims to just the right location in order to cause them to go into a campfire so that they could scare a cat. The cat would then knock a bookshelf onto a sniper. Doing so let you stop on a certain spot without getting shot so that you could take out a hard-to-reach victim. The result was a fun and challenging puzzle that was a nice mix of the different mechanics introduced throughout the game, and something far more complex than seen in other versions of this type of puzzle game.

For fans of puzzle games and 80's horror movies, Slayaway Camp: Butcher's Cut is a no-brainer and you don't have to be a fan of both genres to enjoy this game. If you have an affinity towards either aspect, then the game's cheap price tag, coupled with the amount of content it boasts, will still make this game a pleasure to play though.


-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

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