Review – Slayaway Camp: Butcher’s Cut

A sliding puzzle based off slasher movies like Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street featuring Minecraft-esque voxel visuals and a healthy dose of dark humor. Yep, it’s official: if you want to play some creative games that are downright absurd in concept, just dive into the indie gaming market. My first reaction when I heard about Slayaway Camp: Butcher’s Cut was that there was no way this game would turn out to be enjoyable, that the premise was too nonsensical for it to work. Well, I was wrong. Pleasantly wrong. Slayaway Camp is far from being a perfect game, and it does feature some annoying elements, but it is a very good puzzle game for the Switch, without a doubt.

Aaaaaand he’s gone

The gameplay in Slayaway Camp is simple: like any other sliding puzzle, keep moving your adorably low-poly serial killer around a grid full of obstacles until you kill every single victim onscreen, and once that’s done, proceed to the exit. With the exception of maybe a couple of rewind buttons (which feature severe lag input for some reason), that’s all you need to do here, and you can even use the touch screen to slide your little Jason Vorhees wannabe around if you’re feeling like it.

The first dozen of puzzles or so are actually very easy and act more as a tutorial of sorts, but the game knows how to progressively get harder and more challenging, adding new obstacles, winning conditions, and unusual character placements that will force you to think a bit before deciding on executing your strategy. There is a hint system as well, and it uses in-game currency. Thankfully, despite its mobile origins, Slayaway Camp features no microtransactions.

Rated R for insane voxel gore

What really differentiates this game from the ten billion sliding puzzles out there is its presentation. Its levels are compiled in groups of around 12 puzzles each in order to resemble a horror movie VHS tape. At the beginning of each level, a narrator provides some hilarious voiceover in a movie trailer-like fashion. Killing victims is insanely gory and varied, just like your typical slasher horror flick. Thankfully, the game doesn’t try to feel like a horror movie, as it never tries to provide the sensation of fear. On the contrary, this is a comedy game at heart, and everything is presented in a tongue-in-cheek manner. The game knows 80’s horror movies are cheesy and full of clichés, and it embraces these aspects.

There’s one thing I didn’t like in this game, however: the visuals. Even though they’re one of Slayaway Camp‘s selling points, the Minecraft-ish visuals are cute (weirdly enough, considering it’s a gory game) at first, but they get tiresome after a while. Killing voxel teenagers is funny, but it won’t take long until you start seeing repeated execution scenes. Due to this fact, Slayaway Camp is best enjoyed in short sessions.

I see what you did there. The victim didn’t…

Slayaway Camp is an enjoyable puzzle title that fits perfectly with the Switch’s portable capabilities. It’s not an engaging or deep game by any means, and its Minecraft visuals are annoying after a few minutes, but it’s a good pastime in short bursts with a lot more content than expected. Hop on a little diorama, cut some naive victims in half, then put the Switch back into sleep mode. Cathartic violence has never been so practical.

Graphics: 5.5

The Minecraft-ish visuals are charming at first, but they get tiresome quickly.

Gameplay: 8.5

You basically only use the directional pad (or the analog stick) to move around and the left trigger to restart the level. Weirdly enough, that button features a very delayed response time.

Sound: 8.5

The creepy soundtrack itself isn’t very special, but the voiced introductions to every new chapter are downright hilarious.

Fun Factor: 7.5

The game is charming in its own psychotic way, as well as very challenging. Its themes can be tiresome after a while. Best played in short sessions.

Final Verdict: 7.5

Reviewed on Switch.
Also available on: PS4, Xbox One

A copy of Slayaway Camp: Butcher’s Cut was provided by the publisher.