The Slaughter was funded on Kickstarter in late 2013. As a backer, I participated in the beta of the first act, which is now available for Linux on the Humble Store and Steam.
In Act One, we're introduced to our protagonist, private investigator Sydney Emerson, while he's curled up on the wrong end of an alleyway beating. Luckily for him, his assailants run off when a figure emerge from the shadows, thinking it's the serial killer Ripper come to claim another couple of victims. Sydney himself barely make it out in one piece, thanks to the help of a kind stranger.
What I feel is the main strength of the game is the writing, which delivers an exciting thriller filled with dark humor and genuinely funny quips. Dialogue looks like authentic Victorian London slang, and has me convinced, but I admit I'm not the best judge of that. The story is paced well, without fluff and there seems to be significance to every encounter. Some characters don't appear to have any bearing on the plot so far, but there are more acts to come, and we don't yet know the identity of the ruthless killer.
Most of the puzzles in the game are relatively straightforward and shouldn't pose any major obstacles to players familiar with the staples of the genre. There is one puzzle in particular though that has you collecting items from several locations, takes a bit of timing and also requires you to win a game of Shove Ha'Penny. If you enjoy that minigame, you will also get the option to play it again towards the end of the game. Additionally, there are the occasional surreal dreams, where you have no inventory, but instead solve environmental puzzles to escape the dreams.
The soundtrack consists of simple tunes on traditional instruments, which to me sounded to have a theme of nostalgia running through them. I especially enjoyed the piano piece that plays in Sydney's flat, which is full of melancholy, and perhaps a reflection of Sydney's own emotions. There is no voice acting in the game, but there are plenty of sound effects that add to the soundscape. I wasn't sold on some of them though, like the same coarse laugh of two very different characters.
Where the game falls a bit flat to me is in what I suspect are some of the earliest animations. The thug Sallis' kicks look more like gentle stomps, and I can't help but feel that Sydney's walk animation looks a bit stiff. And is it just me, or are Sydney's arms a bit on the short side? I also think that the menus could do with a bit more grit, as they look a bit out of place to me, but that's nitpicking.
The Linux version of the game initially had some technical issues that prevented it from being released alongside the Windows version. It seems to be in good shape now, however, and I haven't encountered any issues lately on my systems. The game is made with Construct 2, which uses NW.js for desktop apps, so there might be issues on SteamOS.
According to my notes, my first full play-through of the game took me about three and a half hours in total. That's incidentally the same time I have logged on Steam, though that is two partial play-throughs on different computers put together, as well as a few minutes of checking on things here and there.
If a crime thriller with dark humor and traditional point-and-click puzzles sounds appealing to you, The Slaughter is a game that is easy to recommend. You can get the first act DRM free with a Steam key from the Humble Store or directly from Steam.
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