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This upcoming FPS is a love letter to soul patches, JNCOs, nu metal, and everything else 1999

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“Seven weapons, blood and gore, twisted music by Seepage & Psyko Syndikate, and maps where you can blow up everything,” Slayers X: Terminal Aftermath: Vengance of the Slayer promises with its YouTube trailer. “Its awesome. started making it in 1998 in high school with my friend and now im 37, so i have life experience now.”

Say no more, I’m in. Slayers X is a retro-style FPS coming by way of Hypnospace Outlaw creator Tendershoot a prominent Hypnospace Outlaw character, 14-year-old Zane Lofton, now the 38-year-old manager of a “Dollar$aver” store. We first reported on Slayers X and Hypnospace’s upcoming spiritual successor, Dreamsettler, last April, and the demo for this spin-off FPS dropped in June.

Hypnospace Outlaw is still an imminent play on the old back catalogue for me, so I’m happy to report that Slayers X still lands even if you’re coming in fresh. The lore on display is enticing rather than alienating.

Like Bubba Blue explaining the various preparations of shrimp, a true connoisseur knows that the phrase “retro shooter” belies infinitely cascading variations and subgenres, and drilling down I’d say Slayers X gives strong Build engine vibes. Like Duke Nukem or Blood, you’ve got these very vertical, expansive levels that try to create recognizably real-world locations in that Doom-y, 2.5D rendering style. 

Zane’s suburban home, complete with secret underground sewer base, is charming and detailed, with bits like his hung-up JNCOs (complete with wallet chains), trashy movie posters, and scrawled messages to his mom on the walls really winning me over. Slayers also gets points from me for being the only shooter I’ve ever played aside from Counter-Strike: Source to feature destructible PC towers with fully-rendered 3D innards.

My favorite weapon from the demo, a crossbow that launches explosive canisters in a large, languid arc, reminds me of Blood’s signature dynamite in the best way, and I always appreciate a game where your rocket/grenade launcher is eminently usable instead of a too-precious superweapon to be held in reserve. The other weapons are more standard classic shooter fare, but all have a great feel and fun aesthetic gimmicks like your shotgun being a “glass shart launcher” whose ammo can be acquired by breaking mirrors and windows.

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Slayers’ presentation is a real winner for me as well, with Zane doling out delightfully lame quips like Duke or Caleb while the soundtrack features the stylings of Seepage, an in-universe nu metal band from Hypnospace Outlaw. I was also delighted by a bottomless pit you can fall into that requires a level restart to get out of, a clearly signposted troll from the level designer that I still went for because I’m a curious schmuck.

Dumb guy humor is hard as hell, and I couldn’t tell you what separates MacGruber from Don’t Mess With the Zoltan except that the first one is really good and the second one just isn’t. Slayers X nails this ineffable quality⁠—it is dumb guy excellence that had me hooting like a moron while I mowed down poop monsters with dual Berettas. It feels like a playful and joyous celebration of this type of FPS and this type of guy rather than a mean-spirited parody.

You can check out the Slayers X demo for yourself and wishlist it on Steam. Meanwhile, it doesn’t look like we have long to wait for the full release: a January tweet from Tendershoot stated that Slayers X will come out “Within the next few months. Game is done, just needs polish and optimization.”

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