The Slaughter: Act One Review
The Slaughter: Act One Review
A "noir-ish" tale that delves into the mythology surrounding Jack the Ripper, The Slaughter is an adventure title that will leave all players dying for Act Two.
Posted: 02/03/16 | Category: Review | Developer: Brainchild | Publisher: Brainchild | Platform: Windows

Genre: Point-and-Click Adventure
Release date: January 28, 2016

The Slaughter: Act One exemplifies what it means to be an indie game. Developed by Alexander Francois under the name of Brainchild, The Slaughter has a dark, "noir-ish" storyline that is complemented by its comedic bite. Our protagonist Sydney Emerson finds himself wrapped up in a murder on the streets of London and must do what he can to… pay his rent?

Story
 

Sydney Emerson is a private investigator doing whatever he can to make ends meet. During the prologue, we first meet him as he lies on his side being repeatedly kicked in the ribs. It’d be an understatement to call Sydney Emerson down on his luck.

As a P.I. Sydney follows the old tradition of walking the fine line between enforcing and breaking the law. He’s clearly disliked by the local crime lord Charlie Finch, but he’s also willing to commit theft when offered a sizable reward. It doesn’t help that he’s a full-fledged alcoholic to boot.

After his horrible beating in the alleyway, Sydney is taken home by a helpful prostitute who allows him to stay at her place while she goes to work. Sydney is woken by the arrival of the police and he wastes no time falling out of a window to escape.

One of the most important aspects of The Slaughter is how well the entire cast is written. Despite the dour nature of a Jack the Ripper-haunted London, each character is written in a way that frequently had me laughing out loud. The cast is filled with one bizarre character after another, but this fits nicely with the light surreal aspects of the game.

Notable is Sydney’s penchant for peculiar dreams which make multiple appearances in Act One, though they have yet to tie into the story in any concrete way. Players will extrapolate their own theories about how these elements could develop the story, but until then I think any theories would be primarily guesswork.

Naturally, Sydney gets involved in the murders when one of the victim’s sisters asks him to retrieve a family heirloom. With the promise of a hefty paycheck, Sydney begins his quest of drinking too much, trapping an old man’s head in a door, and seducing his way to Charlie Finch, the crime lord who had Sydney beaten to a pulp.

If it all sounds ridiculous, that’s because it is. But The Slaughter continues to entertain and frighten in a way that doesn’t cheapen any elements of the game. My one complaint, however, would be the usage of Charlie Finch. While I hope his presence continues to be felt in further acts, I was left a little disappointed in not having his relationship with Sydney Emerson explained.

Gameplay
 

As a point-and-click adventure game, The Slaughter doesn’t rewrite the rules in any crazy way. Whether you’re escaping the police or coaxing a dog out of a pile of leaves, Sydney will gather items from the environment and craft a solution.

What set the puzzles apart for me were the humorous solutions in tandem with the excellent dialogue. Some kids are proud of their swing? Well, P.I. Sydney is here to break it and abscond with the materials. Can’t find the piece you need for one particular puzzle? Give up and go to the bar and find the solution at the bottom of your cocktail.

The Slaughter features a mini-game (the ha’penny mini-game) that was the most frustrating part for me; however, after failing several times, the game allowed me to proceed. The Slaughter isn’t designed to be easy, but it also doesn’t play like a game that savors the suffering of its audience.

Audio and Visuals
 

Beautiful and beautiful. Even before I was enraptured by the visual design of The Slaughter, I was immediately captivated by the use of audio. During the prologue, the extended introduction features a wonderful tune that plays while Sydney and his savior ride a carriage along the moonlit streets of London.

The mysterious nature of the game is established in these opening moments, and even when the game delves into its black humor, the moments of mystique never dissipate. While the visuals are effective for humor, they become just as frightening when Sydney finds himself in progressively more dangerous situations.

As I mentioned while discussing the story, the surreal elements of the game are a welcome addition. Sydney’s flirtation with surrealism is generally limited to a single room with a coy fish swimming around or a beer faucet dripping upwards toward the ceiling, but in a game that has a story grounded in history, this design choice sets The Slaughter apart.

Conclusion
 

The Slaughter: Act One is an amazing point-and-click adventure that shows off the multifaceted brilliance of Alexander Francois. The game mixes realism and surrealism to create a story that can cause just as much laughter as fear. A "noir-ish" tale that delves into the mythology surrounding Jack the Ripper, The Slaughter is an adventure title that will leave all players dying for Act Two.

 

Grade: A-
Excellent use of black humor
Artful presentation of a pixelated London
Clever puzzles
 
Involvement with Charlie Finch never explained
 Logo
 
 
Trailer:
 
 
 
System Requirements
 
MINIMUM PC:
OS: Windows 7 
Processor: 1.8 GHZ
Memory: 2 GB RAM
Graphics: NVIDIA GT/s 4xx or equivalent
DirectX: Version 9.0
Hard Drive: 350 MB available space
 
Specials from Digital Download
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