Slasher Swamp

by Robot


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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.