Slasher’s Keep is a classic example of the nosey explorer hacking and slashing his way through the tombs and tunnels that the DOOM saga left behind. Developed by Damian Schotler, it has a style and gameplay reminiscent of classic first-person games, whilst tossing in more modern mechanics to add more texture to a relatively un-dimensional game world. In a gaming era of epic open worlds, vast graphic engines, and over-complicated UI’s, Slasher’s Keep provides an excellent escape by instead throwing you deep into the dungeon crawling experience. I found it difficult to connect with Slasher’s Keep straight off the bat, I had multiple issues with it; however, the game does hold a certain appeal, whether that be the visual experience, or the reward of finally conquering one of the many floors the game has to offer: I kept coming back for more.
Let’s begin with what Slasher’s Keep does well, and I mean really well. The game is visually impressive, it feels like your being thrown straight into a cartoon world, but one where every frame could be a perfect screenshot. Every aspect of the world is meticulously detailed, from the bricks on the walls to the small wax candles lighting your path through the cruel dungeons. The beautifully detailed world is complimented by a semi-intelligent light engine, furthermore drastically improving the ability the game has to create an atmosphere for you to explore. The cartoon styling is also vital to the creation of the huge variety of mobs and enemies you meet on your travels, from zombies to flying skulls, to giant naked mole rats; it really is important how well created these enemies are, and how the visual style helps render these creations. Slasher’s Keep has a wide range of randomly generated collectible weapons, armours and items, some of which can then be used in the game’s interesting crafting system to create your perfect monster slaying equipment, I found myself much preferring to crush my enemies with a ‘leg of lamb’.
The dungeons and levels in Slasher’s Keep are randomly generated, which fortunately means that you never see the same dungeon twice… obviously. Some levels are created with the extra dimension of height, whilst some are filled with completely empty rooms leading to nothing, but I will admit, I was very impressed by just how sporadically different each level was. Both logic and jumping puzzles are a common find in the game, which is a sigh of relief from the game’s fast combat experience, and on rare occasions you are given quests by a talking idol, again providing just that extra push that I found I needed whilst crawling through the unforgiving dungeons. You are also blessed with the ability to push opponents, by whacking them with your inventory sack, whether that be into a wall of spikes, or into a vast dark pit, it’s an excellent and creative way of dealing with any mob that’s getting a bit too big for its boots.
Unfortunately, the game does have one or two darker sides, but one of them in particular cannot be overlooked at all: the combat. It’s your traditional click once for a light attack, and hold it for a heavier one, sat alongside your ability to block attacks thus reducing incoming damage, but the Slasher’s Keep just doesn’t pull it off. The main problem with the combat itself is that it feels to slow and inaccurate, some of your attacks just won’t connect with your opponent, when they clearly should. The game encourages you to explore varying fighting styles, with slow, medium and fast attack speed weapons, but due to how sludgy the combat is, taking a lighter weapon and attempting to be nimbler, switching between attacking and blocking just isn’t feasible. Additionally, the mobs have tendency to pull at once, which due to the strength of individual opponents just results in an immediate death, as even when blocked, 5 attacks at once will just wipe your health bar.
Slasher’s Keep is so close to being an excellent little dungeon crawler, with some fantastic mechanics to really boost the crawling experience. The creative dungeons, complimented by a host of villains and monsters, with a side of traps, obstacles and puzzles really does make for a fantastic experience within the vaults of the keep. However, with its heavy influence from the earlier cell-shaded games, and the huge market they have created, a high level of standard is set, thus, a flawed combat system leaves me a touch disappointed, but very hopeful. I would definitely recommend Slasher’s Keep to any dungeon crawling enthusiast, and would add a pinch of salt to everyone else, however I am confident that with just a touch of future development, an already great game, could become an incredible one.
- Visually Impressive
- Interesting Level Design
- Simple but effective crafting system
- Huge variety in gameplay
- Combat feels clunky and inaccurate