Sunday, November 13, 2016

Video Game Review: Slayer Shock

Let me start by saying that I do really like developers Minor Key Games. At the time of this writing I've got 44 hours in their first game, Eldritch, a "Call of Cthulhu by way of Minecraft" type first person rogue-lite. So you could say I'm a fan and none of this is meant as an insult against them.

Slayer Shock is an interesting game and does have potential. You play as the Slayer, an implied Buffy expy who hangs out in a coffee shop with a gang of friends and occasionally goes out to hunt undead monsters. The game is very Buffy, even to the extent of dividing itself up into seasons and episodes - every mission is an episode, find and defeat the boss vamp, that's the end of the season. Move on to the next season and the next boss.

It isn't a bad premise and like I said it does have potential. The problem right now is the gameplay. Again, the idea isn't bad. It's basically the same combat and movement mechanics from Eldritch, but turned up a notch. There are RPG elements at play; you can't just expect 1-2 shot kills all the time like you could in Eldritch, instead enemies actually have HP and damage stats of their own.

And that's kind of the issue here. Slayer Shock is a hard game, and unfortunately it's not all for legitimate reasons. Despite what the game's Steam store page says stealth really isn't optional. Enemies tend to travel in large packs, they often take many hits to kill and they strike fast so evading isn't as easy as it was in Eldritch. If you're playing on anything above Easy difficulty open combat becomes suicidal, so you'll really need to rely on stealth to get by.

The problem is, the stealth doesn't work very well. You move so slow that trying to sneak up behind enemies while they're moving away from you is next to impossible, there is no grace period when you're spotted, and even with the perk that lets you deal additional damage on a backstab you're STILL looking at a protracted battle against most enemies.

Worse, enemies like to spawn in on top of you. I've seen enemies pop up two inches in front of my face as I was walking, and unlike Eldritch where you could stop spawns by not looting enemies, here there is NO WAY to stop new enemies from re-appearing constantly.

Basically, Slayer Shock is a good premise, executed poorly. The developers are still working on the game as of this writing, so hopefully they'll fix the stealth mechanics and the respawn problem. If they do then expect this review to be updated but for right now I can't really recommend this game in good faith.

KR Rating: [2] BAD

Annotation From The Future:
It seems that Minor Key Games has, sadly, given up on Slayer Shock so sadly none of these issues will ever be fixed or addressed. I know it's their game but still. It had potential and its sad to see that potential squandered. As they say, a work of art is never finished, it is only given up on, and Minor Key Games... they gave up.

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