The name of Slayaway Camp might be a bit on the nose with what goes on there, but this isn’t a movie, it’s a game – a gory and hilarious game. It features a classic horror movie visual style in voxel form, and sliding puzzle gameplay which works to its benefit. Slayaway Camp has been out for a while, and deserves a look due to its well-thought out puzzles and atmosphere that are like no other.
Slayaway Camp has you starting off as Skullface, who is a Jason-like, hell-bent on killing everyone he sees. That’s about it on the story front, as the game places you firmly in control of Skullface shortly thereafter. Slayaway Camp is like a sliding puzzle game in detailed form that comes across as Hitman GO meets Crossy Road in terms of gameplay and visuals. Each level is a scene, which are a part of movies, starting with “Slayaway Camp”. Then you return for sequels like “Slayaway Camp 2: Return to Slayaway Camp”, “Slayaway Camp 2.5: Another Return to Slayaway Camp”, and the obligatory 3D sequel: “Slayaway Camp 3D”.
From the menus to gameplay, there’s a VHS aesthetic that extends from the visuals to the controls, as you can rewind gameplay or start it over at the press of a button. The rewind feature is clutch in a game like this, that let you go back and correct mistakes. Restarting a level is very fast, fits well in the context of Slayaway Camp. Skullface slides from one end to the other, only to stop for a victim or a wall. Skullface can and will die, often. This happens by sliding into an edge that has water, or sliding through a campfire and being set ablaze. Dying in the game brings up the movie credits early, which also has a hilariously goofy song to go along with it. Generally there’s only one solution to the puzzle. In order to clear a level, you must exit from the pentagram found on the floor. Each level ends with a fast-moving cursor and a zone you must hit in order to do an over-the-top and gory kill.
Skullface will often (as part of just playing or the solution to a puzzle), scare victims into killing themselves. Skullface can use a phone as a ruse to lure victims to where he needs, but police will also lay traps to catch Skullface before he can kill too many, and must be avoided. The tricks Slayaway Camp are simple but very fun and rewarding, even as kill screens become repetitive in the early sections as you solve them quickly.
There’s a video shop in the game, which went largely unused by me. You earn currency from playing through movies, and I’d occasionally buy something like a new kill animation, but it never felt like it mattered to me. If you get stuck playing a level, you can purchase two tiers of hints to help you solve a puzzle. Though, I feel the hint system could benefit from a third tier to rest in the middle, as the core hints either didn’t give enough, or gave too much information.
There’s over 200 puzzles to get through, and the difficulty certainly ramps up, but the game doesn’t ever feel impossible to find the solution, either through your own means or by getting a hint from the in-game system. Slayaway Camp is very successful at achieving what it sets out to do: providing an inventive puzzle game with an emphasis on kills done in a dark but humorous way. No matter how little or much you play of, Slayaway Camp is the game that keeps on giving.
A Steam code was provided by the publisher for review purposes