Hypnospace Outlaw was a game I appreciated even more as time went on, with its mystifying puzzles and alluring 90s internet art style. And among the many things I remember from playing Hypnospace Outlaw was a webpage created by Zane Lofton (otherwise known as ZANE_ROCKS_14). His page was a look at this edgy, but somehow relatable teen character expressing himself on the internet in bizarre ways. So who would have thought that Zane would make his return in the form of an FPS protagonist in the absolutely insane Slayers X: Terminal Aftermath: Vegance of the Slayer?
The InZanity of Slayers X: Terminal Aftermath: Vengance of the Slayer
In truth, there are multiple layers to Zane's story, but the important part to know is that Zane has an online presence on Twitter, and this game, Slayers X, is a "childhood project" he picked back up after many years. Developed by Zane's Big Z Studios, Inc. -- or Jay Tholen of Tendershoot, the real developer masterminding this funny facade -- and published by No More Robots, I came in expecting mostly comedy but found an actual and very competent boomer shooter.
The premise of Slayers X is as wacky as the actual gameplay, with Zane's town of Boise, Idaho being invaded by the nefarious Psykos. They blow up his mom and invade the Slayers dojo, a badass organization that Zane is a part of. Utilizing the power of Hackblood, the S-blade, his rat allies, and a bunch of goofy guns, expect to mow through dozens of Psykos while experiencing the absolute trip of a town that is Boise.
Slayers X takes the mundanity of a town such as Boise, Idaho (known for its potatoes, it seems) and transforms it into this satirical and unhinged area overrun by cackling maniacs. You'll traverse across trailer parks, convenience stores, sewers, and more -- and while these sound pretty boring as locations for a boomer shooter, Slayers X makes it all come together in such a fun way. Levels are absolutely brimming with weird Easter eggs, hilarious signs, strange situations, and interactable elements.
In between the shooting, I found myself getting distracted by all the different, fun activities throughout these levels. There's this dinky old arcade with ski ball and mini golf, and I literally spent time making sure I got all the balls in the hole for both sports. Surprisingly, I was actually awarded for my actions by getting weapons and achievements, so Slayers X embraces and incentivizes players' curiosity in many different ways.
Level design can often feel like a mishmash of elements haphazardly slapped together, with rooms and arenas making no sense in the context of a normal shooter. But this is not a normal FPS and the chaos feels charming in the sense that Zane, this inexperienced and wholly unique individual created these levels because it felt "cool." He didn't stop to ask why the trailer park was filled with explosives, he just put them there because he could.
All of this comes together in a style that screams 90s edge and has similar hints of Hypnospace Outlaw's crunchy pixel look. Several cutscenes in Slayers X feature creepy, uncanny 3D that adds to the weirdness and charm of the game. Complementing the visual style is a soundtrack by Seepage, the fictional band from Hypnospace Outlaw. The punk rock style of Seepage permeates throughout each level with tracks that I unironically adore -- I kinda love emo music, alright?
Slayers X: Terminal Aftermath: Vengance of the Slayer is Definitely a Boomer Shooter
The primary antagonists of Slayers X are the aforementioned Psykos, and you'll be living up to the Slayer name by mowing through a bunch of these insane idiots. There are several enemy variants, the most common of which wear trench coats and laugh like maniacs as they shoot at you. You'll find things get bizarre with enemy types very quick as there are floating heads with their brains exposed, werewolves with rocket launchers, literal sentient piles of poop. While I like the offering of enemies, I just wished for more. You see all that Slayers X has to offer in terms of enemy variety pretty quickly, so combat feels a little stale later on.
In typical Slayers X fashion, the developer leans into the craziness of Zane's world and creates some truly memorable weapons in terms of design. The pistols are a little ostentatious but the goof factor is exponentially increased when you start blasting away. Zane starts turning his duel pistols sideways, which is totally unconventional but hey, the rule of cool prevails. Your shotgun shoots literal shards -- ahem, sharts, as Slayers X calls them -- of glass and will likely be your main weapon. Ammo is quite plentiful with this shotgun because any glass you see in a level can be shot, broken, and used as ammo. Shootin' sharts has never been this invigorating.
The overall lack of weapons is exacerbated by the enemy variety. With seven weapons total, one being a melee weapon called the S-Blade and the last coming later on in Slayers X, I can't help but feel that another gun or two would have elevated the whole experience. More weapons in your arsenal would have made things feel more fresh. For what we have, the weapons are some of the most visually creative I've seen in an FPS and feel great to use. On top of the shart launcher and goofy pistols, you have a minigun that has a rotating blade on the front and lets you hover; hell, there's even a grenade launcher that shoots cans full of hungry rats.
Slayers X: Terminal Aftermath: Vengance of the Slayer | Final Thoughts
The bulk of my complaints with Slayers X lie with how much content is offered. Indeed, there are worse problems a game could have, but on top of the lack of weapons and enemy variety, the experience as a whole is just too short. I went back and replayed it several times, but it'll probably take two or three hours for most players to finish Slayers X even on higher difficulties. There are a few levels you unlock as extras after beating the main experience, and one of these stages is clearly cut content.
It might be short, but Slayers X is still an adventure worth taking. I don't think I've played a funnier boomer shooter in quite some time, and you'd be hard-pressed to find any game with this much flair and personality. Zane's endearingly crude dialogue and outlandish, haphazard level design is something you really need to experience yourself in order to fully appreciate. And hey, when the Slayers come calling for -- hopefully -- a sequel or more content, I'll be ready with my S-Blade by my side.
TechRaptor reviewed Slayers X: Terminal Aftermath: Vengance of the Slayer over the course of 7 hours on PC with a copy provided by the publisher. The game is also available on Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S.
Disclaimer: Austin Suther, the author of this review, contributed a small "fart" sound effect which is reflected in the game's credits. He contributed this fart via a callout by the developer on Twitter and is not affiliated with the developer or creation of this game.
- Absolutely Hilarious and "inZane"
- Every Level is a Surprise
- Graphics and Music Perfectly Fit the 90s Aesthetic
- Overall a Short Experience
- Enemy and Weapon Variety Just a Bit Small