Slayaway Camp is a horror-themed puzzle game with heart. Literally, hundreds of hearts ripped still-beating from the chests of its voxel victims.
Genre:Adventure Developer:Blue Wizard Digital
Slayaway Camp game developed by Blue Wizard Digital which is a horror-themed puzzle game with heart. Literally, hundreds of hearts ripped still-beating from the chests of its voxel victims. But it also contains devilishly difficult puzzles that are crafted with so much care that it’s hard not to swoon at the sight of each level’s delicately designed kill room. Developer Blue Wizard Digital has poured their love of scary movies, brain-jolting puzzles, and players themselves into this amazing, oddly perfect mix of a game, and the result is an instant classic.
The first thing that drew my attention to Slayaway Camp was the horror theme. Designed as a pastiche of 1980s horror in all its cheesy glory, combined with a voxel look that allowed for some gory slasher action with a comical feel. And then the game released on Steam first. After some work to make the game acceptable for Apple, we finally have Slayaway Camp on mobile, and what I found wasn’t just a game that was over-the-top in gore and humor. I also found a great sliding puzzle game, that also managed to integrate its theme in a masterful way. This is a game that’s fun to play and experience the little world it has created.
Slayaway Camp’s horror film theme is front and center from the very beginning of the game, which shows you the intro to the first Slayaway Camp “movie” narrated by a grisly voiceover of doom. It’s the last day of summer 1984 and the maniac killer Skullface is loose in the camp, hell-bent on murdering every counselor in sight. It’s the player’s job, as Skullface, to exact his deadly revenge on the campers who disfigured him just one year prior, forcing him to hide behind the skull mask (and murder).
Slayaway Camp does an exemplary job at combining all these elements over time into the puzzles. Everything is steadily introduced over time and combined in the way that these kinds of puzzle games should excel at. The puzzles don’t necessarily have rewards for optimal move counts, which can be a bit disappointing for replayability, but it at least means that success is accomplished without any kind of reservation. There are levels that require you to complete them in a certain number of moves, and thankfully these appear just often enough to provide a good spice of variety, and not enough to be annoying. Enough levels that break from the game’s core objective can be frustrating to deal with, but Slayaway Camp just finds ways to balance out variety with fidelity to its core objectives.
Vengeance takes the form of a sliding block puzzle in which you can send Skullface in any direction, but he will only stop moving once he runs into an obstacle. Usually that obstacle is a wall of some sort, but he’ll also stop if he runs into a victim, whom he’ll proceed to slash to bits. The goal on each level is to kill every counselor and then escape via the satanic portal that appears once Skullface’s bloodlust has been temporarily sated.
This sounds like a relatively simple task, but the complexity of the levels and the obstacles within ramps up quickly. For one, potential victims will run away from Skullface if he murders someone next to or slides within one block of them, forcing him to adjust course and nab them at a different location. Hazards like lakes and campfires can be used to drown or barbeque the condemned counselors, but Skullface can also meet his demise if he slides into one. Cops show up and, despite imitating their horror movie counterparts with limited cunning, will capture our killer if he lands in their direct line of sight.
The amount of obstacles and murder methods introduced over the course of Slayaway Camp is astounding and one of its greatest strengths. While Blue Wizard has done a phenomenal job of creating levels that simply utilize sliding puzzle challenges at their core—getting trapped behind a wall, using victims as stopping blocks, figuring out the exact path to take to end up at the final destination—the real joy of Skullface’s rampage is in its sheer variety. Besides the few early stage aspects we’ve already mentioned, you’ll be able to topple bookcases to crush victims, land mines to blow them up, tall walls to hide behind, short walls to terrorize, light switches for shadowy sneaking, and craterous pits for body dumping. There are very horror movie-appropriate objects like pairs of phones—running into one rings the other, attracting anyone nearby—that bring to mind “The call is coming from inside the house!” The dumb cops are later replaced by slightly-less-dumb SWAT, and there’s even a special type of visitor you don’t want to kill. And this is a still a short sampling of what’s in your available arsenal.
The only thing I really have to complain about with Slayaway Camp is the lack of iCloud support. I am interested to see some future content; a DLC pack for Valentine’s Day released with the iOS version, and more killers and gorepacks are always possible. There’s certainly some more clever ways to combine all the different things that pop up here in new ways, and I’m excited to see how they all play out if this does well enough.
Although we love reading the VHS blurbs and perusing our killer collection, Slayaway Camp’s throwback menu does make replaying levels a bit of a chore. You have to pick the movie, choose to replay it, then scroll to the level you want within the CRT level select screen. The movie then continues in order from that level, so if you’re jumping around to complete previously skipped stages you have to exit the movie and redo those steps for every level you want to play.
Every aspect of the game feels minutely considered, like the fact that the skulls of victims you’ve killed remain in the level and will be kicked around as you pass by or the way still-alive characters shake and glance around nervously once they’re aware of your presence.
The only thing I really have to complain about with Slayaway Camp is the lack of iCloud support. I am interested to see some future content; a DLC pack for Valentine’s Day released with the iOS version, and more killers and gorepacks are always possible. There’s certainly some more clever ways to combine all the different things that pop up here in new ways, and I’m excited to see how they all play out if this does well enough. It would have been easy for Slayaway Camp to just be an amusing puzzle game that didn’t try to be a fun puzzler underneath. But, the theme is fun, the puzzles are fun, and those two elements are skilfully combined into one complete package. Slayaway Campis a killer puzzle game.