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Slasher Swamp

by Robot


(based on 11 ratings)
5 reviews

Game Details

Language: English (en)
First Publication Date: October 1, 2014
Current Version: 1
License: Freeware
Development System: TADS 3
Forgiveness Rating: Polite
IFID: Unknown
TUID: l3oo5dc8ac0zrwch


38th Place - 20th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2014)


Map and walkthrough added November 21, 2014
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Number of Reviews: 5
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Most Helpful Member Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
Slip, die, repeat in a swamp made out of gory hazards., November 12, 2021
by Wade Clarke (Sydney, Australia)
Related reviews: TADS, IFComp 2014, horror

(This is an edited version of a review I originally blogged during the 2014 IFComp.)

As much as I dislike dwelling on the concept of tropes, Slasher Swamp is an old school (i.e. all puzzling for puzzling sake, sparse prose, several schtick mazes, scores of instant deaths, no UNDO) adventure in which you find yourself a witness to a nonsensical mishmash of splattery horror film tropes after your truck breaks down in the middle of nowhere. It’s a Windows application with the TADS engine under the hood, and the author proffers a small command set which can be used to clear the whole thing. I mapped the game and played to completion in about an hour, but I have to admit I achieved this by brute-forcing the content of locations. And there are a lot of locations.

The prose is a mixture of the atmospheric, the overdone atmospheric, the jokey and the juvenile. It's a tone that will be recognised by anyone who’s played any old school games which indulged their authors.

I mildly enjoyed ticking off a variety of silly death scenes, but they're assembled in this game with no overriding design and no consequence, and thus to little effect. Most objects go unused, including conspicuously important-looking ones. The player has no direction or purpose other than to keep throwing themselves at everything until they can win by a kind of exhaustive attrition of props and puzzles, though there are few puzzles in light of the size of the map. The forest mazes are small but tedious, and the random deaths are numerous, and truly, deeply random.

The worst symptom of the disabling of UNDO is that from any of the scores of rooms with teleport-like one-way exits, you can’t go back. I would often save the game just so that I could try each of the four exits from a room without having to circle the entire map after each teleport.

In the end, Slasher Swamp has all the shortcomings of both old school senselessness and aimless design. The world is the base for something decent, but the hodge podge of blood'n'excrement scenes aren't woven into any specific gameplay content. They’re just there, usually described to you and then gone again all in the space of one move, unrelated to each other, unrelated to progress in the game.

In spite of Slasher's shortcomings, I still got moderate amounts of fun out of it.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Surprisingly fun, with perspective and a walkthrough, at least, January 25, 2023
by Andrew Schultz (Chicago)

We all have games like Slasher Swamp, ones that maybe aren't terribly good, but we played them and enjoyed them for what they were. Perhaps there were better games out there, but Slasher Swamp had a simple enough premise, and the world, while big, only had so many items and so many death traps. So when, on replaying it, I stumbled into an instadeath, I could just reload and try again.

The premise is: your truck (pickup, I assume) is headed for Miami on Spring Break when it breaks down in a swamp. There are all sorts of decrepit buildings and mazes to navigate. You need a combination of good luck charms and weapons to survive. There's little clue what you need if you stumble onto a fatal obstacle, though there's plenty of gore. Then you open another area, mostly through examining stuff and finding a tripwire. This all culminates in a battle in an otherwise innocuous straw hut in the corner of the map.

Along the way you find a severed head and revolver and even some useless items like a King of Spades and Queen of Clubs in an otherwise irrelevant area, which hinted at, perhaps, a few puzzles the author could not slip in before IFComp. Perhaps it's better that way. Too big, and Slasher Swamp would've lost its fun. Looting an abandoned house and gas station is enough. There's even an outhouse and, of course, a side-warping map with non-reciprocal directions. There's a secluded shack, too, not to be confused with the hut. The whole deal is surprisingly dry-goods (find item B in area A, then D in area C since B gives you protection,) and there really is a lack of subtlety. But it is fun for all that. The descriptions seem to beg you to be scared, but I have to admit, they have variety.

Replaying Slasher Swamp years after it was a sort of cult favorite in IFComp 2014 reminds me of other TV shows I enjoyed fondly, even if they weren't good. That one cartoon. Maybe even that one commercial that, these days, makes me smile more than the show it interruopted! You can't have a steady diet, but it has an undeniable enthusiasm and willingness to throw in everything that refreshes the spirit, if not indulged too often. Perhaps I'll have a different perspective seven years from now, in 2030. Somehow, though, it's more than the sum of its parts, and unironically better than you feel a game like this should be, which makes up for more highfalutin' games which miss the mark. We need a few like this. And I guess that's partly why I wrote a walkthrough and map for it years ago, so maybe when I'd need a break from the more mindbending stuff, I could have more simple enjoyments. I did. Maybe you will too.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Good writing trying to escape a creaky game, October 14, 2017

I didn't have a great feeling about SS. It tells me that I can’t use an item if it’s in a bag. Curses! Was able to silently (take key from rucksack) when the player demanded it, and that was in 1993. This game is twenty-one years behind the times already. (EDIT: turns out the parser does deal fine with objects in containers!)

You're stranded in a grim, swampy backwater with almost nothing, and everything wants to kill you.

The parser is surprisingly OK and the writing is reasonably detailed. Most items are described. The atmosphere is great. The descriptions of nature as revolting are unusual and immersive.

I wish there were more clues about the people that lived here. Some locations – the rose and wasp garden – look interesting, but don't have a purpose.

I was wandering about, finding stuff and exploring, when — suddenly — this game kills me without warning and in silly ways and doesn’t let me undo. I shouldn’t need the experience of past lives to win a game.

I am not a fan of insta-death merely for searching or opening an item. One or two insta-deaths are well clued – the (Spoiler - click to show)dark patch in the swamp that the frogs are avoiding is a decent one. But death just for opening a container? Phooey.

It's got a lot of promise and the writing is engaging. The gameplay, though, is frustrating.

See All 5 Member Reviews

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This is version 6 of this page, edited by Jason McIntosh on 23 November 2014 at 12:01am. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item