When I was sixteen, I spent a full month trying to design a map of my apartment in Duke Nukem 3D. Then I decided I wanted appropriate sprites and sounds for some specific Italian things, such as the TV for example. Then, after three months I moved on to Quake and thought I would just make a machinima instead. None of this stuff was ever finished, but if there’s anything to be learned from my Slayers X review is that it’s never too late to reach your 90s goals.
Slayers X: Terminal Aftermath is a long-lost shooter developed by Zane, a character from the Hypnospace Outlaw (go play it) universe, the classic “cool dude” that you either met in high school or fought with on AIM or IRC back in 1997. He speaks in cool lingo, but he never swears and, back in the day, he developed this awesome first-person shooter that, only years later, he’s managed to complete. Zane is part of the group of heroes, the X Slayers, and they have to defeat the evil Psykos, especially because they killed Zane’s mom. Revenge is a dish best served with turds.
Indeed, Slayers X earns its title of “boomer shooter” right from the get-go. It is a full-on modern recreation of a janky FPS made by someone who believes himself to be the awesome-st guy who ever lived. Nailing the balance between making Slayers X look “amateurish”, but also playing like a good shooter should was probably the biggest challenge by the devs. Well, they succeeded. Slayers X is janky, filled with turds, toilets and fart jokes, but it works. Sure, it has its share of bugs – it was updated several times as I was reviewing it – but Zane himself told me that the final version should play okay. I believe him, why wouldn’t you?
In the first few levels, Zane progresses through typical FPS levels: supermarkets, apartments, trailers, sewer levels [cue zombie sound] and fantasy castles. Our first weapon will be the S-blade, a melee weapon that can be charged with Hackblood, dropped by enemies, to also shoot a wave of energy. Naturally, there are pistols akimbo (Caleb is one proud dad), a fantastic shotgun that uses glass sharts (Zane knows best), missile launchers and sewage grenades. It is a small arsenal, but it definitely works for most situations.
The levels do indeed remind me of those classic “my house” user levels that I mentioned at the beginning, with an abundance of 90s references and little secrets here and there. It is interesting to know how they are not designed to provide you with the best “shooter” experience, as the balance in the level design definitely seems to go more towards the “janky” side of things. But it makes sense in order to experience the full Slayers X package. For example, there are entire sections which seem to be just empty and also several invisible walls. Cut Zane a break!
Still, as much as I was having fun, there was one weapon and level which truly altered my experience: the talisman in Kataklism. There, the classic FPS experience becomes quite different as the talisman allows Zane to fly by firing continuously (the alternate firing mode is a concentrated burst of energy). The game does require you to use this flying mode, which comes a bit abruptly in the gameplay, and also is a tad too difficult to use efficiently since it constantly needs hackblood energy. But, even if you kill enemies, hackblood will disappear in a few seconds.
Luckily, the following levels don’t follow the same gameplay ideas, but while that sudden change in tone is interesting, it comes on a bit too suddenly for its new weapon (and no, you’re not allowed to use anything else in that level). But then we are back to the potato festival and the mandatory theme park with a haunted house, so everything is fine. Naturally, there would not be a 90s FPS without appropriate music and Slayers X does not let down with a selection of nu-metal, prog-infused hard rock and a splash of midis. I was missing only some tasty industrial, but perhaps the “bad to the bone” DLC?
Your enjoyment of Slayers X will definitely come down to how many other boomer shooters you’ve played and if you’re familiar with Hypnospace Outlaw. Honestly, there might be more references to classic 1997 FPS Blood, than to the Hypnospace universe. Surely, any veterans of the 90s nostalgic wave of FPS will find much to appreciate here, but do keep in mind that it is meant to be janky and weird and full of toilet humor. This is Zane we are talking about anyway, either you’re game or you’re lame.
When I first heard of the idea of designing an FPS around a character from another game, I thought it was a wild idea. And surely it is, but the fact that Slayers X works is a testament to the talent of everyone involved. The FPS nails that particular period in time, on the internet, where users were making content that would share directly with each other. Just like Hypnospace Outlaw, its parallel world, its characters and their problems speak to the experience of many of us who are now “internet boomers”. We definitely needed a “final” shooter to represent us all.
So, indeed, trying to be objective about a game from my pal Zane is quite difficult. I mean, he did tell me several times on Twitter that he banged my mom (and my grandma too, not sure). Zane is there with all of his Psykos friends (sorry, enemies), waiting for us to be gibbed and to spout some turd-based nonsense. If that’s not the biggest nostalgic pleasure you can find, well then, you are a mother flipper.
Our review of Slayers X Terminal Aftermath was made possible with a key by the developers. Slayers X is available on Steam and Game Pass, along with Xbox One and Series X.
Slayers X Terminal Aftermath: Slayers X is the boomer shooter to end all shooters. Zane brings back the ultimate 90s experience filled with gibs, turds, kicks in the nards and, of course, a few bugs here and there. – Damiano Gerli