Before I started playing Slayaway Camp, I had only seen a few screenshots of the game and knew it was heavily inspired by a bunch of classic horror/slasher franchises. I had no idea what it played like, and was surprised to find out it’s actually a puzzle title. Developed by Blue Wizard Digital, whose team members previously worked on popular games like Peggle and Bejeweled, it’s no surprise that Slayaway Camp is also available for mobile devices. The PS4 version is the game’s console debut, and its gameplay made me wish there was a Vita version as well.
The game is extremely easy to pick up and play, and levels are generally short and small. Since there are over 300 of them, this isn’t an issue at all. The way each level works is much like a sliding puzzle – the kind that usually involves layers of ice and sometimes penguins as well. Push in a certain direction, and you’ll slide until you hit something. Ideally, an innocent camp visitor – since you play the role of the slasher. Besides offering dangers, you can also utilize the environment – for instance by flipping light switches.
End up right next to someone, and they’ll flee – which can complicate matters but can also be a part of the solution, as they end up in new spots that you’ll be able to reach later. Gameplay is similar throughout the game, so it’s definitely a title best enjoyed in short bursts. Traps and environmental hazards add additional layers of challenge to the mix later on, and also keeps the experience somewhat fresh.
The same can be said for the game’s backdrops and animations, which are inspired by famous Hollywood horror franchises and villains. This makes the game especially appealing to horror fans and lifts it well above the average sliding puzzle for that target group. A lot of the animations are actually kills – which can be as creative as they are sick, so this isn’t a casual puzzler you’ll want your kids playing despite the cute and boxy look of the game.
Besides the gory nature of the visuals, the game is quite forgiving – featuring a rewind option and even video tutorials for each level that you can unlock. You can also unlock additional finishing moves and extra characters, including a creepy clown called “That” who ties in well to a recent blockbuster hit.
The Butcher’s Cut edition of Slayaway Camp features tons of content – including everything that was released for the original PC version post-launch. It does so at a budget price, which makes this a good purchase for those interested in casual puzzlers – especially if you dig the horror theme. I sure wish there was a Vita version though – Slayaway Camp’s gameplay format would be perfect for it. Until then I’ll just stream it to my Vita from the PS4 as I play it in a dark bedroom for some extra atmosphere. Great for a few rounds just before bed.