So, there are a lot of us older gamers who were raised on true adventure games. Series like Kings Quest, Monkey Island, and the general ilk of the long forgotten Sierra come to mind. The story-heavy, point and click adventure that I am convinced made up a massive part of the geek gamerbase that we have today.
Many of you might have noticed how much I adored the revival of Kings Quest at the hands of The Odd Gentlemen—hell, it was one of my favorite games of 2015. But I know that it isn’t the same. Telltale and Life Is Strange and all those other soldiers in the gaming world that seem to have taken over the “adventure game” genre—it just isn’t the same. And that’s fine. Life evolves and so do games. But every now and then it’s nice to return to that good ole fashioned feeling of an adventure game that makes you read and think and test every stupid item you’ve collected against every stupid clickable thing in the room you’re in before you find the stupid answer they’re looking for…
Sorry. But I’ll bet a few of you know exactly what I mean. Adventure used to mean trial and error. Paying attention to the storyline and scouring the land for what you need. As opposed to now when it mostly means “dialogue choices and quick time events”. But if retro-designed Indie projects have taught us anything, it’s that your favorite game from 1993 exists, my friend: it fucking exists.
Cue The Slaughter: Act One. It’s the first piece of an episodic game, but that’s largely the only part of it that makes me think of modern day adventure games. It places itself firmly in the noir genre, with dialogue and a story that is simultaneously funny and sort of horrifying. During my four hours with it, The Slaughter took brief moments to break the fourth wall, challenge my wits, and, god forbid: make me care about the characters I interacted. But most intriguingly, right off the bat, the graphical, audio and storytelling style of The Slaughter made it clear that this is a pure love letter to adventure games like Indiana Jones and the Quest For Atlantis. The first episode was released on January 28th, 2016, and was made by Brainchild studios.
Initially I was skeptical. Like a lot of dialogue-heavy games, the first fifteen minutes or so of The Slaughter was expositional enough that I was ready to throw in the towel. It’s easy to get frustrated with a writer who is obsessed with the way his words feel in his mouth, but I’m honestly glad I pushed through that to the game itself. The game opens with you, a private detective in Victorian England, getting the shit kicked out of him. It’s a great way of introducing or re-introducing some of us to the mechanics of classic adventure games. From there, you’re on a strange adventure that eventually leads you toward seeking out the murderer of an increasing body count of prostitutes, a la Jack the Ripper.
It might be a very rudimentary idea for a game’s story if it weren’t for the creative elements that Brainchild puts into it. There are Twin Peaks-style dream sequences that hint at the ultimate outcome of the game, and very amusing dialogue choices that teach you more about your protagonist than you’d ever get from your standard story introduction.
It’s a classic adventure game through and through, and I was initially stumped by a few of the puzzles I came across. For the frustrated, I can only offer the advice I’ve been given since my first Sierra game in the early nineties: click on everything, and pick everything that you can up.
2016 is already starting out as a year for exciting games on the horizon, so you can imagine my surprise when a smaller indie adventure game like this one took my interest. I had a hell of a lot of fun playing The Slaughter, and look forward to its next episode.