Slayaway Camp Is A Cult Horror Puzzle Game

Slayaway Camp [official site] is a free game in which you play the killer in a collection of old VHS movies, slaughtering the hapless cuboid characters who are foolish enough to Kum Ba Yah and cuddle by the fires and hot springs of the titular camp. The whole thing is presented as an isometric puzzle game – you slide the killer around each level, trying to kill every victim without falling in a pit or trapping yourself between two obstacles. I hate puzzle games. Unless they’re also slasher films, apparently, because I can’t stop playing this.

You can play the game for free now on Kongregate and it is apparently coming to Steam soon. You should play it. My only complaint is that I can’t find a way to mute it (I like the music and sound but I’d rather have my own if I’m going to keep clicking away for an hour in the evening).

One of the people who created this also designed Bejeweled and co-founded PopCap, which just goes to show that you never really know someone until you’ve seen their VHS collection.

“Originally started as an experimental roguelike collaboration between Jason Kapalka (PopCap co-founder, designer of Bejeweled, etc) and Ido Yehieli (of Cardinal Quest 1 and 2), Slayaway Camp evolved into its current form when they realized that Sokoban-style sliding-block puzzles were enormously tedious… unless they involved gratuitous murder. Then they were awesome. Kapalka’s fondness for cult horror films finally found an outlet that had been denied during his decade at PopCap.”

It’s a very good tribute to a certain kind of cult horror film, and I love a lot of the little details: cut-aways to particularly nifty kills look like out-takes, there’s a Slawaway in space spin-off movie, Sumerian demons make an appearance. Good, clean fun stuff like that. You can spend the coins you earn by completing levels to buy new kill-packs, just to unlock death animations.

And it’s not as simple as it first appears. After a few levels, you’ll be introduced to cops, scare tactics and soon you’ll be setting up combos of kills, and making cult classics of your own.

Don’t fret if the Jason kill montage a couple of weeks back made you squeamish and reckon this might have the same effect – Slayaway Camp is a cute kill ’em up. Sure, there’s dismemberment, decapitation and quite a lot of impaling, but it’s adorable. And I’m not even sure you’re playing the actual killer – I’ve only finished the second film (there are ten videos, with more than 200 puzzles total) but it seems like I’m playing the actor who is playing the killer. You’re trying to make the perfect version of the big murder scenes rather than actually re-enacting murders.

None of which really matters because this is a puzzle game starring people made out of cubes, but the distinction seems worth noting.

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3 Comments

  1. Eight Rooks says:

    Definitely want to give this a shot, partly because, well, it looks neat, but partly for bah-humbug reasons: I can’t stand Popcap’s “look”, and one article I read a few years ago about their general approach to game design scared the crap out of me (I think it was in Edge?). Niceness at all costs! Never do anything that might evoke a single negative feeling in the player! Tell them they’re a special snowflake over and over and over again! Ugh. The thought that the first thing one of the co-founders wanted to do once he left is pretty much KILL, KILL, KILL strikes me as highly amusing, to say the least.

    …now if you’ll excuse me, there are these three ghosts outside who say they want a word.

  2. MajorLag says:

    I was digging it until I was gated by coins.

    Also, Adam, if you’re playing in Chrome you can mute the tab.

  3. bluewizard says:

    Adam! You can adjust your sound and music by clicking the gear-looking settings icon after hitting “pause” to go back to the video store…

    MajorLag guy: not sure where you’re being gated by coins? There’s only a single bonus movie you have to spend coins on to play.

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