Comedy in games can be very much hit or miss. You see, humour is generally purest within something like a 10-second joke, followed by a comedy anecdote, then a story, then a sketch, then a sitcom, then a film. Keeping a film funny for a couple of hours is one of the hardest things to do. So imagine trying to tickle the funny bone across the playtime of a six to eight hour game.
Well, Slayers X: Terminal Aftermath: Vengeance of the Slayer tries to do this. But it’s all subjective, coming across as either hilarious or annoying. Let’s find out what side of the fence we stand on.
Mouthful of a name aside, Slayers X: Terminal Aftermath: Vengeance of the Slayer has a great meta setup where you are introduced to a cutscene before the menus pop up. Zane, aged 15, made the best game in the world but it was lost to the annals of time. But now, aged 37, he and his friend Chase have found it, put it on a CD ROM, and shared it on the internet. Using his trusty notebook with all his awesome design, the game is here. It’s a brilliant way to set up Slayers X: Terminal Aftermath: Vengeance of the Slayer and I love the way the parody narrative is fully committed to.
That narrative has a great – but silly – 90’s vibe. Think Beavis and Butthead meets Duke Nukem. That mad narrative sees Zane as the last member of the superhero squad. When their base gets attacked by the Psycho Syndicate Gang and his friend is kidnapped, Zane has to get out there, take down the enemy and save the day.
The story, writing, characters and locations are very funny, at least for the first hour or so. It’s clever, weird and fun. But after a while that smile starts to fade a bit and for me, Slayers X: Terminal Aftermath: Vengeance of the Slayer grows a bit tired. Still, it has some very funny sections and plenty of little details in the environmental design.
Gameplay-wise the game is a straight up old school retro FPS shooter; think of games like Doom. You start each huge level, left to get across the map, shooting everything you find along the way. The enemies mix up in various ways too – gang members, floating jesters, and small and large pieces of animated poo at times. Whichever though, the AI of the enemies isn’t the brightest, preferring to overwhelm you. It’s in that in which Slayers X: Terminal Aftermath: Vengeance of the Slayer should be seen as a very tricky game.
The level design is great with some very fun sections, like a laser quest room in an arcade. There’s a boss battle with a giant toilet in a restroom. There are secrets to find at each level and lots of things to look at. You do find yourself – at times – lost as to what to do next or where to go, not helped by the lack of markers. You may also find yourself backtracking around a level for a long time. And like any game of old, ammo is limited and I found myself desperately out of luck, running away, hunting for anything to load my wide range of guns with.
There’s no doubt that, visually, Slayers X: Terminal Aftermath: Vengeance of the Slayer nails the retro FPS shooter look. Everything has that jagged pixel look and feel to it. It’s colourful and brash, coming across exactly how it would look if designed by a 15-year-old boy. It also comes with cutscenes that seem to use clay animation techniques; I thought they were amazing and worked brilliantly.
Further, the soundtrack has a vibrant, heavy metal soundtrack that will keep you powering through the combat and gameplay. Voiceover works well too, and the actors deliberately ensure that things sound weird and are badly performed. That helps with the humour. Did I tell you that Slayers X: Terminal Aftermath: Vengeance of the Slayer is very funny?
Slayers X: Terminal Aftermath: Vengeance of the Slayer is one of those games in which the creative choices should be applauded; at times, it feels genius. But the gameplay does get a bit tiresome after a while and the lack of direction is frustrating.
No matter though, it’s pretty safe to say that Slayers X: Terminal Aftermath: Vengeance of the Slayer will stay with me for a long time.