05.jpgYou know those ice sliding puzzles in RPGs? The idea is simple enough: an open maze in which the player can't stop moving until they hit something. It provides a nice bit of variety, though once you have dozens of RPGs under your belt, they get a little old. If you've ever wished for a full puzzle game built around that basic idea, with a lot of extra elements added to keep things fresh, though, then perhaps Slayaway Camp from Blue Wizard Digital is for you.

The game really only takes its basic movement from those sliding puzzles. It's themed around gory horror films, and the player's goal as a serial killer playing through different scenes of a movie is to kill all the teens at camp and get to the exit. There are many ways to kill, from sliding up to a teen and attacking directly to sliding up next to them and scaring them so that they run into environmental hazards and die.

As the game advances, a variety of obstacles, dangerous and not, are introduced. In addition to basic walls and other furniture that serve as obstacles, the player stops moving at a space adjacent to a teen to murder them. This allows the player to scare teens into certain spots in order to solve a scene. Other obstacles, such as police, will harm the player if they land in the wrong place. Bookcases, outhouses, and other similar obstacles can be pushed over to kill someone or block a path. Cats must not be killed, but can be scared into moving.

All this variety of mechanics adds a lot of depth to the gameplay. Better yet, the theme ties it all together, making it very easy to remember what everything does or enables, and the visuals make it very clear how everything can be manipulated.

IMG_6200.jpgThe theme really deserves a lot of credit for tying everything together and making the game entertaining. In addition to doing a lot for usability, it adds a layer of humor to everything. The voiceovers for the intros to each "movie", which might be called a world in other puzzle games, manage to strike a great balance between satirizing and celebrating horror flicks. Throughout the scenes, blocky voxel people die in comical, cartoony parodies of grotesque methods. Even the settings menu is designed to look like a TV pause menu, and some of the advanced sliders are ridiculous.

Slayaway Camp is a really neat puzzle game, one that I don't expect to tire of any time soon. There are plenty of unlocks, some aesthetic in nature and others like more difficult versions of levels dubbed "deleted scenes". And what better time to play a comical slasher puzzle game than Halloween?

You can get Slayaway Camp on Steam (Windows, Mac, and Linux) for $8.99.