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Slasher Swamp

by Robot

Horror
2014

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Number of Reviews: 4
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Slip, die, repeat in a swamp made out of bits of slasher movies., November 17, 2015
by Wade Clarke (Sydney, Australia)
Related reviews: horror, IFComp 2014, TADS
(This is an edited version of a review I originally blogged during the 2014 IFComp.)

As much as I hate dwelling on the concept of tropes, Slasher Swamp is an old school (i.e. all puzzling for puzzling sake, sparse prose, several schtick mazes, scores of instant deaths, no UNDO) adventure in which you find yourself a witness to a nonsensical mishmash of slasher film tropes after your truck breaks down in the middle of nowhere. Itís a Windows application with the TADS engine under the hood, and the author proffers a small command set which can be used to clear the whole thing. I mapped the game and played to completion in about an hour, but I have to admit I achieved this by brute-forcing the content of locations. And there are a lot of locations.

The prose is a mixture of the atmospheric, the overdone atmospheric, the jokey and the juvenile. It's a tone that will be recognised by anyone whoís played any old school games which indulged their authors.

I mildly enjoyed ticking off the scores of discrete images and moments I recognised from horror films Iíve seen, but they're assembled in this game with no overriding design and no consequence, and thus to little effect. Most objects go unused, including conspicuously important-looking ones. The player has no direction or purpose other than to keep throwing themselves at everything until they can win by a kind of exhaustive attrition of props and puzzles, though there are few puzzles in light of the size of the map. The forest mazes are small but tedious, and the random deaths are numerous, and truly, deeply random.

The worst symptom of the disabling of UNDO is that from any of the scores of rooms with teleport-like one-way exits, you canít go back. I would often save the game just so that I could try each of the four exits from a room without having to circle the entire map after each teleport.

In the end, Slasher Swamp has all the shortcomings of both old school senselessness and aimless design. The world is the base for something decent, but the hodge podge of blood'n'excrement scenes aren't woven into any specific gameplay content. Theyíre just there, usually described to you and then gone again all in the space of one move, unrelated to each other, unrelated to progress in the game.

In spite of Slasher's shortcomings, I still got moderate amounts of fun out of throwing myself at it for an hour.

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Andrew Schultz, November 21, 2014 - Reply
The swamp mazes don't properly seem like mazes, since (Spoiler - click to show)it's generally a one-way trip through three or four rooms. I suppose we should be grateful for small things, as the author could have been really vicious. In fact, at the end, (Spoiler - click to show)a fellow competitor managed to lose the game because they put an item in a bag, when I didn't, so I won.

Nevertheless, in the tradition of Luster, I decided I'd post a map. I'm still not sure how to map the meadows without being confusing, but I'll add mine, for the curious. It has numbers. I may even write a full walkthrough!
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