Circus Reviews - Slaughtertrain
For people searching for new visual novels, I like to recommend browsing the Lemmasoft forums. It's where I've found some nice games, including some I've reviewed, such as Those Without Names and Fairly Dangerous. Even without deliberately looking, you might find something interesting, as I did today when I went to check the unread posts for the day. Slaughtertrain bills itself as a "randomized violence adventure" and also as a parody of the movie Snowpiercer, and both those counts it is quite correct. You are a rider on a post-apocalyptic train, in the last car, the steerage class, where you eat bugs and slime and bemoan your terrible existence. One day, the conductor at the front sends his soldiers all the way down to your car to kidnap your grandfather due to his previous experience as a professional clown. Now you're on a mission to rescue him, and the only way to do so is to make it to the front of the train.
Each car you enter is randomized, with everything from boy band cars to herbal remedy cars to spa cars. You're generally given three options on how to get through the car: slaughter everyone, steal bombdrugs (which appear to be...bombs crossed with drugs), or trade ten bombdrugs for safe passage through the car. Your choices can vary; if there are no enemies in a room, such as in the one pictured above, you'll have a different first option, and you obviously can't trade bombdrugs for safe passage if you don't have enough of them. At the top, you're also given an illustration of your current weapon, the number of bombdrugs in your inventory, and an overview of your health, which can range from "unnaturally healthy" to "completely fucked, health-wise", and going too long while wounded will end your game. I hate the movie Snowpiercer. It is ridiculous and makes no sense, in a bad way. And yet, this game does what the movie failed to do: it is ridiculous and makes no sense...in a good way. There are tons of potential rooms; your given options may not do what you expect; the random number god is pretty much the only thing keeping you alive on your journey. And that's awesome. Every playthrough is different. You can't just rely on one option to get through everything; some rooms will throw curveballs at you, and a choice that worked out for you ten times previously will suddenly fail. There are three different difficulty settings that alter the number of cars you fight through, and I strongly recommend not jumping straight to the highest one.
Normally a text-based game is low on the images, but this one has a nice set of illustrations depicting your blood-soaked inventory weapons. You start with a random one and can acquire a new one somewhere along your journey (and you probably want to). There isn't much soundtrack; it's mostly a train on tracks, except for in a few significant rooms. But it all fits the aesthetic nicely. Above all, I have to compliment the writing. It doesn't take itself seriously in any way, and coupled with your incredibly hammy protagonist (who is very good at violence, a fact he will never let you or anyone else forget), it makes for a fun journey. So give this game a quick play if you've seen Snowpiercer and want a more out-there parody of the whole concept. I think even if you haven't seen Snowpiercer and are just a fan of randomness and violence and interactive fiction games in general, you'd still like this. It's a fun and interesting way to burn a few minutes, and it has plenty of laughs along the way.
Slaughtertrain is available to play in browser or for free download at itch.io. Final verdict: A hilarious parody of a rather lackluster movie, or possibly of interactive fiction games in general, Slaughtertrain presents a great atmosphere amid a whole bunch of laughable bloodshed and makes short work of the general tropes of a heroic quest. Slaughtertrain is developed by Plus Ultra. The opinions expressed in this review are my own. I was not compensated in any way for this review.