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Building the 1980s VHS Horror Vibe of Slayaway Camp

When we decided to create “The Most Violentest Puzzle Game of All Time” we knew we had to go big (or go home). Slayaway Camp is a sliding block puzzle game, like Sokoban and many, many other logic games, yes… but it’s also a gore-encrusted love letter to the sleaziest horror films of the 1980s.

Slayaway Camp Screenshot
While the actual puzzle mechanics will be familiar to many players, we wanted to build an entire world around them that paid affectionate – if tongue-in-cheek – tribute to the horror classics we fondly remembered watching on our parent’s VCRs.

The 80s were a golden age of horror films, with timeless classics from John Carpenter and Wes Craven to, well, not so timeless cheapo knockoffs produced on a shoestring budget to turn a fast buck at the local drive-in or multiplex. We wanted to pay homage not just to the good films of the era, but the hilariously inept ones too.

Slayaway Camp Screenshot
The game is structured around a series of sequels to the imaginary Slayaway Camp film, which we created as a low-rent rip-off of classic slasher flicks, such as Halloween and Friday the 13th. Starring a skull-masked murderer, known logically enough as Skullface, the films start in traditional summer camp territory, but move to more bizarre locales as the series proceeds, with stops in beach resorts, an amusement park, and outer space.

While Skullface was our starting murderer, we wanted to broaden our cast of characters by introducing new killers as the game progresses (and later as unlockable bonuses). Taking our cue from obscure horror classics that feature unlikely sources of slaughter, such as killer snowmen and angry molesting trees, we took the same creative liberty in establishing our own troupe of psycho slashers.

So now there are over 60 different killers available, referencing all sorts of horror heroes (plus some that are just… uncategorizable, like Killer Hot Dog). There are a couple more modern references thrown in too, like Mary Mason from the Soska Sisters’ cult classic American Mary. Even Skullface’s mom gets her own chance to shine (and slay)!

Slayaway Camp Screenshot

Each killer has their own signature execution scene. These are the spectacularly gory kills that were the money shots of the slasher subgenre. We wanted to really stay true to the genre here with some extraordinarily gruesome kills… so a hyper-voxelated graphic style helped keep the ultraviolence from becoming more disgusting than humorous.

Slayaway Camp Screenshot

Keeping with the VHS theme, the entire interface of the game is structured around the world’s nastiest video store. Here, you choose the videotape you want to play, and can examine the lovingly recreated box cover art, before firing up the movie on the store’s flickering ceiling-mounted TV.

For the bonus mode, where you can rack up extra coins via our twitchy action-reflex game, we decided to reference the infamous Faces of Death videos, a series of extremely dubious ‘movies’ that purported to show ‘real’ deaths onscreen, with our poorly translated bootleg copy of Faces of Killed 3.

Slayaway Camp Screenshot
Even the in-game options menu is designed to look like a TV setup menu from the 80s, though we added a large range of unusual options to tweak. We’re especially proud of the Slider of Sliders that controls the number of extra options sliders on your menu…

For the finishing touches, we added a range of VHS tape artifacts and a full soundtrack of simulated 80s synth-metal from Canadian rockers Gnu Truntion, who composed a pair of awesome original tunes for us: Only the Strong Survive and Love is Like a Machete To The Heart.

While there is a bloodless PG option for players who just want to focus on solving the 300+ puzzles in the game, Slayaway Camp is really dedicated to those with an abiding affection for horror films, whether good, bad, or ridiculous. Come join us in the world of trashy videotapes and homicidal psycho slashers!

Slayaway Camp: Butcher’s Cut is the meatiest version of the game yet, with over 300 puzzles, 90 Gorepacks, and 60 Killers. Even better, it’s ready to download right now from the Xbox Store as part of the Shocktober Sale with a certifiably insane 25% discount!

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