IF Comp 2014: Slasher Swamp

slasherswampSlasher Swamp, by Robot, is a parser game in TADS. As the title suggests, it’s corpse-strewn horror of the cheesier variety, set in the Everglades. Abundant squick below the cut.

Man, this is a blast from the past: a terse, AFGNCAAP-y horror game featuring bizarre writing choices and spooky and/or revolting shit scattered about at random. Back when I were a lad, every comp had to have at least ten of these, and you had to wait for a month and a half before you were allowed to say anything snarky about them.

Your truck breaks down in the Everglades on the way to Miami, human body parts are everywhere, and this is about as much story as you will ever need.

The player-character spends a lot of time vomiting in disgust, sweating in apprehension, and otherwise expressing emotional reactions through the excretion of fluids. The game continually tries to one-up itself in nastiness: human body parts are scattered all over the place for no very clear reason, there are maggot-ridden corpses and buckets of poo and a creepy doll head inserted inside a dead deer like some kind of horror turducken. (The ending reveals that there’s a creepy serial killer haunting the woods, but, until this point I had no idea that it wasn’t just Random Spookiness.)

There is a large area of swamp that you get lost in, eventually emerging at random points on the map. There’s a maze – well, not much of a maze, but all the rooms are identical. There are tons of one-way directions. The walkthrough only mentions the key actions, without connecting them with movement. There is instant death – much of it for stuff that you ought to do, but need extra stuff for – and no UNDO.

>open briefcase
You open the briefcase and thousands of cockraoches emerge. The insects swarm and cover you completely. You scream, and they clog your throat. Slowly walking back to your truck, you yell”Fuck this swamp!” over and over. The sun goes down. You are sick and feverish as you fall asleep, and suspect that you did not cough up all the roaches. You begin to shiver violently around midnight. A hulking figure rises from the swamp and opens your truck door. You clearly see the person hack off your legs off with a machete before shredding the rest of your remains.

*** You are dead.***

Everything about this is bad – the red-herring booby-trap, the leaps in the action, the spelling, the death that has nothing to do with the thing you actually did, ‘the rest of your remains’, ‘hack off your legs off’, the ridiculous image of the staggering protagonist repeatedly shouting ‘Fuck this swamp’ with a cockroach-chafed throat, the vagueness about your assailant combined with ‘clearly see’. But I cackled with laughter, because how could you not.

There’s quite a lot of unimplemented scenery. While the game is mostly about wandering around searching for things, it mentions this prominently in the ABOUT text, and it’s not overburdened for things to search; but the chaotic shape of the map makes it very hard to do anything systematically. To be fair, the author is up-front that this is meant to be a difficult-for-the-sake-of-it kind of game, and it is possible to figure out the walkthrough and finish it in fairly short order, though it’s worth poking around and getting yourself gruesomely killed a few times first.

In its favour, it has a specific setting that’s appropriate to the story it’s trying to tell, and it manages to evoke a pretty decent sense of it, despite its incapable prose. Furthermore, Florida is the perfect setting for things that are both creepy and cheesy.

Recommended if you are able to derive any pleasure from IF kusoge (hat-tip to Molly Geene for alerting me to this useful term). It is, to be sure, a game with lower ambitions, worse design and more shambolic writing than a number of games that will score lower, but I had a good time with it, which is an automatic 5.

Score: 5

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2 Responses to IF Comp 2014: Slasher Swamp

  1. Pingback: IF Comp 2014: Slasher Swamp (Robot) | Emily Short's Interactive Storytelling

  2. Pingback: ParserComp: Mean Streets | These Heterogenous Tasks

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