Slayaway Camp, released a couple of years ago by Blue Wizard Digital, was a neat little puzzle game that really paid great homage to 80s slashers. Now they’re back with a semi-sequel, and brought the Friday the 13th license with them.
Killer Puzzle is an isometric game that sort of plays out like a sliding block puzzle. The aim of the game is to use Jason to murder all the characters on the screen, before killing the Final Girl, Final Geek, or whatever the game decides to call the character that pops up right at the end. Naturally, this all becomes quite bloody, at least for a game with this cartoon style. Big headed characters, a quaint visual style… soon splashes of red come across the screen as Jason can use one of the many weapons in the game to chop, dice and slice the many teens in the game.
What starts off as fairly easy soon becomes challenging with obstacles and the need to kill off characters in a specific order. Jason only slides in one of four directions and the only thing that can stop him are the walls or a teen you’re about to kill. It’s possible to become stuck which is where the handy rewind and restart buttons come into effect. You also have your mother’s decapitated head in the corner that can give you a hint or just reveal the entire puzzle if you so wish.
There’s quite an ingenuity to some of the puzzles. Moving next to a teen or killing someone in front of them, for instance, will cause them to run in the opposite direction, and some puzzles require them to be in a specific position so you can reach the final victim. Later levels introduce traps that don’t just kill your prey but Jason also. This comes in the form of bonfires, bear traps, water and more. Then there are cops that will kill you if you come face to face with them, or the cats which, if killed cause an instant fail state. Because animal cruelty is a step too far for our sweet boy Jason. And that’s just a small taste of the mechanics the game eventually throws at you.
What fans of the Friday the 13th series, like me, will enjoy is the many homages it pays to the source material. With twelve movies, there is a lot of material to play with. Starting out in Camp Crystal Lake it soon takes detours through prisons, New York, space and more, with a good variety in the twelve different areas. It’s clear the creators are big fans because while it’s easy to look at a film like Jason Takes Manhattan and set a level in New York, it takes real fans to reference the fact that the majority of that movie takes place on a boat.
The care and attention to the Friday the 13th universe also playing into the variety of Jasons you can select. Starting with classic Jason you can soon unlock a number of others. Some are brand new (post-apocalyptic Jason) and others are taken more directly from the movies (for instance Uber Jason from my personal favourite, Jason X). While a lot has been taken from the film series, the levels the developers have created especially for this game actually feel like they could’ve been a part of Friday the 13th canon and is actually quite unfortunate that they were never turned into a full-fledged movie. A Friday the 13th set in a Mad Max-style wasteland would’ve got my money instantly, but I digress.
On top of the standard puzzle mode there is a daily death which, as the name suggests, pops up a daily puzzle for the player to complete. Doing so 13 times in a row unlocks a new Jason to play with. Then there’s Murder Marathon. In the main game, during the final kill you have to stop a moving bar inside a small red section to perform a kill, otherwise, the teen escapes – Murder Marathon mode basically takes that concept and has you trying to do that as many times as you can in a row. It’s a simple little time sink, and once you’ve got enough to unlock a new Jason outfit then there’s little chance in returning. Even though it does have an amazing 80s style soundtrack over the top.
If there’s one downside to Killer Puzzle it’s that it won’t be long before you’re seeing the same kills over and over. It’s possible to skip the animation, but the lack of variety definitely shows. Also, unlocking weapons once you level up is done in a loot box style system. And the weapons themselves don’t appear to trigger different kill animations. For instance, I was using a baseball bat and Jason was killing people as if it was a machete (stabbing them through the eye etc.)
While there is a definite joy in being a Friday the 13th fan and seeing all the different homages, you don’t have to be in love with the series to get enjoyment from Killer Puzzle. If you can like a good mind-bender then there’s plenty of content here for you to enjoy, with some decent tongue-in-cheek humour and a good challenge. And if you enjoy this, then you should3 check out the developer’s previous game, Slayaway Camp.