Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Slaughter - Act One Review


Ah Londoners during Victorian times, such a morbid bunch

  • Developer: Brainchild
  • Publisher: Brainchild
  • Release Date: 29 January 2016
  • Time played: 3.2 hours

Back in 2013, I decided to back a game being developed by a chap named Alex Francois. He was going to develop a retro-style point 'n' click adventure called The Slaughter set in a dark time for Victorian London where a serial killer is on the loose (Jack the Ripper anyone?). Anyway, it's been over two years since Francois has managed to secure a very modest £8,170 from 403 backers (me being one of them) and he's now done a Broken Age and decided to release the game into three acts - a decision he did not take lightly but it does mean he could release the game sooner to his loyal backers and any potential new fans. He is confident he will make enough sales from the act in order to fund development for the future ones.

So how is the game? Was this Kickstarter project a bad gamble or a good one?

Plot (5/5)

You play the role of Sydney Emerson, a down-on-his-luck, private detective living in 19th century London around the same time a serial killer known as "the Ripper" is active (obviously inspired by the real "Ripper" or "Jack the Ripper"). You're getting the life beaten out of you by a local crook's hired goon when you're saved at the last minute by a kind-hearted prostitute, and so begins The Slaughter – Act One where you'll soon have a reversal in fortune although at what cost? Is the risk to your life and your sanity, too high?

The game contains a cast of quirky characters that are often not what they seem, and the dialogue has the trademark British dry humour. The plot is intriguing and generally well written and kept me returning for more.

Gameplay (5/5)

The Slaughter – Act One plays like your typical point ‘n' click adventure: You have your usual inventory that's opened by scrolling your mouse to the bottom of the screen. Here you can drag and drop items on the main screen or merge inventory items together to create new items. The left mouse button activates objects and the right mouse button is for looking at objects. Otherwise, clicking the left mouse button moves you around. Eventually you'll have a map that allows you to travel between locations such as your home, the pub and other locations in London. You can talk with most characters in the game and with important characters you'll be given three conversation choices or topics. These topics will be updated as you continue to talk to the character or once you learn new bits of information.

I thoroughly enjoyed the game and I found it quite simple to pick up, although that also means the game might seem a bit too easy for veteran adventure game fans. I found it refreshing that the puzzles were logical and that the conversation options on offer were often identical to things I would say such as:

CHARLIE: "You see Sydney, this ain't the day to wind up Charlie Finch. Do you know why?"
SYDNEY: "It's your birthday?"

I also liked the mini-game that was included in the pub called Shove Ha'penny which I'd never heard of until recently (apparently, it's a real game so you learn something new every day!).

I also liked the mini-game that was included in the pub called Shove Ha'penny which I'd never heard of until recently (apparently, it's a real game so you learn something new every day!).

Sound (4/5)

The game has some pretty choice ambient sound effects and contains no voice acting, unless you consider the audio clips that play whenever a character laughs as voice acting (although usually whenever that particular sample plays, it really creeps me out since it sounds like a demonic laugh grabbed straight from a Wolfenstein 3D-era FPS.)

Music (4/5)

The soundtrack for The Slaughter is what I'd consider a minimalist one and while there aren't any tracks that are truly memorable to me, it is effective at setting the mood for each scene.

Graphics (3/5)

The game contains pixelated, retro-style graphics along with rather wooden animations, which were commonplace in point ‘n' click adventures during the early 1990s. The game also appears to have the occasional clipping issue where Sydney will end up walking through tables or balustrades.

There are some pretty advanced graphical effects though that will bring you back to 2016 such as the gorgeous lighting effects and the blurring that occurs when the foreground goes in and out of focus.

Replay (3/5)

I really enjoyed this game. Usually it takes me ages to finish games and sometimes I lose interest in them, but this isn't the case with The Slaughter. I'm really pumped to see what's in store for us in the second act.

The game is meant to generate Steam trading cards although this functionality doesn't seem active yet. It also appears that Steam achievements aren't a feature of the game either.

Polish (4/5)

The game only has a couple of minor issues which include the occasional spelling mistake and the inability to take screenshots through Steam via the F12 key. Otherwise, I've got no complaints.

Score – 8/10

I'm definitely not feeling "backer's remorse" for contributing to the development of The Slaughter. Alexander Francois has developed a game he should be proud of and while I have some minor quibbles with the game, its quirky characters, intriguing plot and entertaining puzzles have won me over. It contains all the crucial ingredients for a top notch point 'n' click adventure but with an indie game price tag.

The Slaughter – Act One is available from these retailers:

Is the game worth $8.09 USD?: Yes. It's just over $11 AUD and if the second and third acts are as good as the first, that's about $33 for a decent adventure game.

If you like this game, you might like...

[ LINK: Official The Slaughter Website ]

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