Do you like cheese-tastic slasher movies of the 80’s? Do you like puzzles? Do you like the idea of squishing and molding those two ideas together? No? Too bad, because we have Slayaway Camp: Butcher’s Cut Edition for the Nintendo Switch. Is it good?
First debuting on Kongregate in 2016 before hitting Steam, Slayaway Camp is a slider puzzler where you play as a slasher going around killing people. It’s a game heavily inspired by 80’s slasher films, most particularly the Friday the 13th franchise, with homages to Nightmare on Elm Street, Child’s Play, and Halloween as well. The Butcher’s Cut Edition comes with all of the bonus DLC and add-ons that the Steam version gained over the years, making this the complete version. It’s a very simple game but I’ve loved almost every second of it.
Slayaway Camp is divided into “Movies”, in which you play a particular scene and try to kill teens, camp counselors, or whoever is in your way. The killer you’re playing as, usually Skullface, can only move left, right, or down until he hits a person, obstacle, or something else that stops him in his track. You must figure out how to kill every single person in the correct order and then get to the hellgate to clear the level, sometimes with a limited amount of moves.
It sounds simple, but the game does a masterful job of crafting tons of clever, brain-racking challenges to complete. Some levels require only a passing glance to figure out, lasting a few seconds. Other stages require thinking far in advance in how to position your killer and move objects or victims around into the right areas for you to succeed while dodging hazards that may end you if you’re not careful. As the game progresses, new tricks come into play like cats you can’t kill, wads of gum that stop you in place, and police officers who will shoot you if you stop in front of them. It can take minutes on some stages and constant trial & error to figure out, but it never feels too difficult or frustrating.
Thankfully, the game comes with several different features to ease the difficulty and prevent you from getting stuck. At the bottom of the screen, you can pause, rewind, fast forward, and skip forward or backwards. Rewinding is great and allows for you to redo steps in case you made a mistake or need to go back to try something else. Skip backwards resets the level and skipping forward, or fast forwarding, gives you the option to bypass the stage or get a hint. The hints can be anything from how you should proceed in a level or what person to scare or kill at a certain point. You can also get a step-by-step walk-through if you’re really lost, all of which helps make puzzle solving easier and less frustrating.
However, the hint system and walk-throughs aren’t free. You’ll need to earn coins in a bonus mini-game between missions. The mini-game plays out the same every time: perform a gore-tastic kill when your cursor slides into the red area of the bar at the bottom of the screen. You get from 50 to 100 coins per move, though I never figured out what determines the amount of coins you get.
After playing a few “Movies,” you can also unlock a special bonus movie where you rack up as many kills in row to earn coins. This helps you grind up coins quickly and is oddly relaxing if you need a break from the puzzle solving. The downside to this mode, and the mini-game in general, is that you’ll end up seeing the same deaths over and over again. It becomes really repetitive and dull, losing its impact really quickly. I wish you could unlock more bonus kills so there’s a bigger variety and you didn’t have to shuffle between the same ones over and over again.
Those coins you earn in the mini-games aren’t just for hints, but also for all the things you can unlock. One of the best things about Slayaway Camp is the amount of content there is. There are tons of movies to unlock and after beating each will open up the Deleted Scenes bonus stages that are a bit tougher. After beating the main game, you unlock the NC-17 versions of each movie, which are remixes of old stages with new ideas that were introduced in later levels and are much more challenging. You can also unlock bonus movies besides the mini-game one, like a homage to My Bloody Valentine, to add to the fun.
The fun stuff that you can unlock doesn’t end there, with plenty of killers and gorepacks to purchase with your hard-earned coins. Gorepacks are extra ways to kill people via a cutscene in a stage. They range from smacking people with a baseball bat to booking a skydiving trip and cutting their parachute. It’s ridiculous, but it helps keep things from feeling repetitive.
Then there’s the bonus killers you get from buying lootboxes for 1000 coins. They are based off random killers from slashers movies, to characters from other games (like Crypt of the Technodancer), to even online reviewers (like Jim Sterling and his costume character, Jimsaw). They are just silly bonus skins for your killer, but they do come with their own, unique kill move that make them feel a bit more special.
Slayaway Camp has a simple cube-like graphic style where all the characters, items, obstacles, and even the flooring are square-shaped. It’s like Minecraft, but more visually expressive, detailed, and better animated. It’s visually fun to look at and the bombastic gore really works well for the sillier and brighter visuals. If this was a game with more realistic graphics, I don’t think the experience would be as great. The music is great and captures that 80’s slasher feel, while the sound effects and voice clips only add to the cheesy experience. I did have some strange load times in between kills that broke up the fast pace when I initially downloaded the game, but I haven’t run into that issue since my first day of playing.
Reflecting back on my time with the game, I absolutely loved it and its over-the-top attitude. However, due to its repetitive nature, I did get kind of bored at times playing for long stretches or in big bursts. This is game best for you to take your time with, play every once in a while like if you would with the phone version. Play a few levels, unlock a character or gorepack, and come back later. That’s the way to play it without getting worn down.
Slayaway Camp is a game best recommended as an experience that you jump into every once in a while. You play a few stages, maybe unlock something, and come back to it later. You should not try to take it in all at once, since that only drags the experience down.