SLAYERS X: Terminal Aftermath: Vengance of the Slayer gives Hypnospace Outlaw the boomer shooter it deserves

If none of the words in the headline made sense to you, that's fine.

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Nostalgia is a helluva drug, and the folks behind Hypnospace Outlaw are the Walter White of cooking up hits of pure crystal clear 1995 for me to rail. Their aforementioned title was a hilarious world-building comedy built to spoof the aesthetic and heroes of Geocities-era online performative identity and communities. While a direct sequel to that much beloved indie title is currently in production, a spin-off set in the same world releases this week.

From the Hypnospace world, one of the characters that broke through in a big way was Zane “Zane_Rocks_14” Lofton—the definitive online edgelord archetype who is equally Linkin Park-stan in baggy camo pants, prickish, but also annoyingly relatable to anyone who grew up in the era. Did you burn a copy of a friend’s Family Values Tour Live album? You might be a Zane-neck.

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For this sort of surprise bonus outing, rather than engaging with the persona a keyboard warrior created to represent him on the web, you’re interacting with Zane’s self-insert art, working in the era’s definitive edgelord medium: the first-person shooter. Not just an FPS, but one built by a teenager of themselves, for themselves, about how much they rock.

For anyone who loved coming up with the 2.5D-esque shareware shooters like Duke Nukem, Doom, Rise of the Triad, and so on, this is something of a dream throwback. Not just to those games themselves, but to the experience of being a teen at the time and immersing yourself fully in the experience. If you were the kind of gal or guy who learned how to edit a .wad file or used some kind of map editor to try to build your childhood home in a shooting game, then this title is expressly about that wish fulfillment writ large.

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Yes, your must trusted weapon is a staff with a glowing skater S on it. Yes, that is your bedroom, Mr. #1 Hacker. // Courtesy No More Robots

SLAYERS X: Terminal Aftermath: Vengance of the Slayer is exactly the vibe, visuals, and tone that its typo’d Surge-fueled title establishes. Built for outsiders whose notion of “cool” is timeless in its misguided nature, the game is action packed with clumsy, technology limited delight smashed up against the sort of design/creative choices that were moonshots for the era but aged immediately into power-cliche territory. Perhaps most perfectly crafted here is the tone of your main character’s constant need to toss out ass-kicking or mom-sexing based insults that, limited by parental protections and age ratings of yore, sticks them squarely into an almost Napoleon Dynamite peg of barely coherent—by nature of forced PG-ness.

This is the very best of the worst of 2002, seen through exploding giblets, talking rats, enemies that cackle maniacally en masse to the point it might break your speaker, and Evanescence-esque driving rock set to a quest to kinda-sorta save Idaho and/or hack the planet.

If the following video makes you laugh, then you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy of SLAYERS X.

Is the game itself any good? Yes, but that part barely matters. While it does release amid a sudden rush of excellent boomer shooter resurgence titles, it’s dedication to matching the spirit of frenetic frustration, barely functioning mechanics, wacky enemies, cartoonish guns, and more attention to Easter Eggs than a player could possibly find… it just nails the target it was hoping for. Anything this good at being exactly what it wants to be deserves the highest praise.

SLAYERS X: Terminal Aftermath: Vengance of the Slayer is available this week on Steam and for free via Xbox Games Pass, for some inexplicable reason. If you own the green glowing gamedevice, you have no excuse to not fire this up for at least a single delightful throwback sesh.

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Categories: Games