Cartoon violence hits iOS in Slayaway Camp puzzle game
Price: $2.99 / £2.99
Size: 201 MB
Developer: Blue Wizard Digital
Platform: iPhone & iPad
When it was announced that slasher-puzzle game Slayaway Camp was heading to iOS after a successful indie-launch across desktop platforms, many questioned how it would get past Apple’s stringent rules. Sure, Apple has a 17+ age range option for certain apps submitted to the store, but it remains hyper-aware as to the content it provides.
In the end, Slayaway Camp arrived on the App Store largely unchanged – a notable, but minor change being that Slayaway Camp’s teen counselor victims were altered to simply camp counselors.
But let’s back up. In the game, you play Skullface, a psychotic killer at Slayaway Camp that slashes and maims his way through the camp. It all sounds quite violent. And as a base concept, it is. But despite the game obviously receiving Apple’s 17+ rating, the violence is so cartoonish, over-the-top and tongue-in-cheek that it’s hard to take any of it seriously. In reality, it’s a total gimmick.
So, what kind of game are we playing here? Despite the violence, Slayaway Camp is absolutely a game you’ve seen before. You’re presented with a grid, and on that grid are a series of obstacles – for example, if you’re outside, they may be trees; if you’re inside, bookcases, chairs etc. You swipe in any direction on the grid to move Skullface, with the goal being to reach other campers. Once you find yourself next to them, Skullface dramatically kills them in a gruesome cutscene.
The challenge largely resides in the restrictions in Skullface’s movement. When you swipe him in a direction, he keeps moving until he hits an obstacle, requiring the player to use their smarts to reach the victims. Once all the victims are dispatched with, a satanic portal activates, and you have to reach it to complete the level.
As you progress through the game’s many levels, you find new game mechanics. For example, you’ll be given a set number of moves in which to complete the level, or cops will be stationed on the grid who can bust you if approached from the front. It gets more interesting once camp fires, or holes in the ground are introduced. Frequently Skullface will scare the victims, causing them to run into a fire or a hole. Of course, Skullface will also fall victim to these elements if you’re not careful with your movement.
The premise is widened after you finish the first set of scenes. You return to the menu, which is designed like a video shelf for old horror VHS’ and you find that Slayaway Camp is a long-running series of movies that you have to play through. There are other elements like different weapons and costumes that you can unlock and activate.
But back to the violence. This probably isn’t a game to pass on to younger children. But having said that, the game’s design is designed in the exact style as the likes of Crossy Road and Shooty Skies. The blocky-style is very familiar, and diminishes the gore and violence factors considerably. However, some may feel this to be a normalization of this kind of violence.
That aside, Slayaway Camp is only really a fairly decent game. The puzzles are interesting at times, start easy and get more challenging, while the aesthetics are also entertaining. But we can’t help feeling that the shock factor is simply a distraction in order to sneak through a puzzle game that’s… well, only mildly interesting.
- Interesting design – turns horror into blocky pixels
- Decent learning curve in the challenges
- Puzzle dynamics are nothing we haven't seen before