You ever have one of those days where something just delights you, unexpectedly transforming your whole day? It might be that the cute human you like flirted with you when you bought your favorite caffeinated beverage. Or it could be that you discovered a hilarious way to indulge your inner 80's slasher. No? That hasn't happened to you? Which one?
I had one of those days yesterday. I love playing video games—I just don't choose to play games as often as I might have done in my early NES days when you couldn't save a game and played long marathon sessions using the Force to battle through all of the levels of the Star Wars game and destroy the Death Star.
I'm what you'd call a casual gamer. Gamer light. Sure, I'll play a game now and then (Minecraft, WarCraft, StarCraft, basically anything with ‘craft' or ‘Lego' in the title). I don't stay up on all the latest gaming news. I don't have the time (and yet I have an absurd impulse to buy games that I'm not going to spend much time playing, just in case I want to play them).
Yesterday I turned on our XBox One and went to the Deals With Gold (like I said, it's absurd, but there it is), and looked at the games. And there it was:
In all of its blocky gloriousness, Slayaway Camp: Butcher's Cut with the delightful Skullface character. I clicked on the game and watched the trailer and immediately clicked BUY.
And waited for it to download.
I missed the news when Slayaway Camp launched like two years ago. Casual gamer :shrug:. I know, old news, like me.
Seeing Slayaway Camp filled me with the same nostalgic glee as Paperbacks From Hell (awesome book, just saying).
The small human watching with me on the couch said, “You bought it?”
“Yep.” The XBox popped up an announcement that my controller batteries were low. Not from playing. It's just been that long since I picked it up. Casual gamer.
The game finished installing and I launched it with glee. First puzzle, super simple, slide Skullface over to the unwitting blocky person and—choose rating pops up.
I pick an R-rating for more gratuitous cartoony gore. And SPLAT. First victim. I laughed. Horrible? No, hilarious.
Each level makes up part of the Slayaway Camp ‘movie' in which Skullface slaughters victims at the camp in a variety of gruesome and amusing ways. If you've ever watched Friday the 13th, Sleepaway Camp, or any other 80's slasher films, this is all familiar territory.
Except, this is all done in an isometric environment and the characters are puzzle pieces that you slide around the board. You don't directly control the victims—but they do run away in terror if their fellow camper gets beheaded in front of them, or if the killer moves into an adjacent square.
It so funny. Sick? Maybe so. Still funny.
As any good casual game, Slayaway Camp offers a range of souvenirs for the discerning killer on a budget. Final kills at the end of each level generate gold coins that can be spent to unlock weapons and new killers. The puzzles might not change—but you can replay them dressed in your finest costume. Don't want to be ordinary Skullface anymore? How about Flaming Skullface? Skullface's Mom? Killer Clown, or any of the other killers in the gallery.
Completing one set of puzzles unlocks new movies like Return to Slayaway Camp and more. The game uses VHS box art as part of the retro style with witty (or at least amusing) descriptions of each film.
Like any other puzzle game on the planet, Slayaway Camp puzzles increase in difficulty as you progress through the game. It introduces new game mechanics — scare your victims into fires and watch them burn — including cops (approach with caution), pits, falling squish bookcases (seriously, does no one ever anchor their bookcases?), and much more.
Soon after I progressed through the first Slayaway Camp movie, life intervened and we had to go out. Something about needing to buy food, I guess we're not that far beyond our hunting and gathering stage.
While out I had a thought. That game would work great on phones, I wonder if they did a mobile edition?
I soon started hacking my way through the levels I'd just played on the XBox One, happily slaying time with Slayaway Camp on my phone. A hilarious game, executed marvelously, and it makes me happy knowing that at any moment I can pull out my phone and start hunting down victims.
What? Did I say something wrong?
If you've watched all of those old slasher films, enjoy a little casual mayhem from time to time, I recommend checking out Slayaway Camp.
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Ryan M. Williams lives a double life as a full-time career librarian and a multi-genre writer with over twenty books. He writes across a range of genres including science fiction, fantasy, paranormal, mystery, horror, and romance. He earned a Master of Arts degree in writing popular fiction from Seton Hill University and a Master of Library and Information Science from San Jose University. His short fiction has appeared in anthologies from Pocket Books, WMG Publishing, and in On Spec Magazine.