This review contains spoilers

"Hey there, everybody. It's Zane, from hypno. Did you know? My favorite things are... jumping into the sludge, stale sloppo, chill soda without any ice, the newest album of Sipage, aaaand Terds. See you in the Slayers X, everybody."
As an FPS, Slayers X is a wild ride, calling back to the Build Engine games of the 90s with an insane amount of interaction with the maps and the content, making real spaces while having fun with the encounters inside them, and using the weapons as extensions of the aesthetics rather than just your standars tools of the trade. One outstanding example of this is the glass blazta, functionally the shotgun of the game, using pieces of the enviroment as ammo, merging scavenging and exploring to a deeper degree.
The presentation of this game is something else, too. Captivatingly ugly yet a smooth play from start to finish, a gift to the cool teens from the 90s from their adult self. Almost looking like it shouldn't work, the way everything looks like it's barely holding together really elevates everything in here, somehow making what appears to be a very basic palette of colors look like a rainbow in comparisson to what other games bring to the table. The devs are complete masters of this whole shtick, and I really can't wait for what they cook next.
Now humor me for a second here. I'm gonna go on a completely weird metatextual tangent on what I feel the game is actually about, and I'll spoil both Hypnospace and this game. I recommend scrolling a bit on his wikia page, particularly on the twitter hyperlinks it has to learn more about the character outside the games. This is entirely my own theory (my GAME THEORY) so expect me to overread everything to hell. If the vibes are not to your liking, please pretend it's all a joke and read the weird parts with that voice hbomberguy and SuperEyepatchWolf use at the "serious" parts in their videos. You know the one.
The narrative of this game explains that what you're playing isn't a 100% exact recreation of the game designed by teenager Zane, edgy kid from an alternative reality 90's, and a survivor of a dream internet Y2K event, but adult Zane, a dad working a deadbeat job tackling this as a way of giving his past self some bragging rights. You can see a lot of this in the "scrapped" levels you unlock after finishing the game, with an almost 40 years old Zane taking great pride in how much his past self made as a hobby, recreating places he used to be around that time. Yet you start to see some cracks in his demeanor while you play.
In the first level, you learn your mother has been killed by the psykos, the enemis of the game, to which Zane just responds with a "RIP Mom" at first. Yet there's something in his voice when this happens, a weirdly sad delivery from the voice actor playing Zane as an adult. When you finally go around and reach her apartment room, you hear a clearly uncomfortable Zane talking about how he misses his mom and wishes she was still there, looking at her stuff and chocking a bit before speaking. Maybe because I also lost someone dear to me recently, I'm trying to find a way to connect with this fictional character that I found really charming on a game I played before this person passed away, happy to see him alive and well. In a digital way, at least.

Similar situations happen fairly repeatedly on the game, with Zane revisiting his game 20 years in the future and out of discomfort or just straight up "growing out of it" editing parts of it, never fully commiting to erasing what that 15 year old kid was cooking, so you see strange things like a fence separating in half the bed his mother and step father slept in, a lack of interest in acting the death by his own hands of his teenager sweetheart in a boss battle, making them feel like bumps in his own road to having a good time while revisiting his old memories.
You can also feel this in the way the game feels like it's being future proofed for his own son, with cursing being entirely removed from it, with even some already admitely safe words being replaced (something you also see in Hypnospace, yes, but I chose to read that as a mix of Zane trying to avoid getting banned for harsh language when I played and the weird American culture of avoiding extremely tame subjects) with stuff liek "terds" for turds to try and shape them into what he thinks a proper person should be, while also trying to look cool with the cartoonish yet bountiful gore inside the game.
I know this can totally be seen as going in too deep, Zane is presented as somekind of idiot after all, constantly making spelling mistakes and going out of his way to look cool while sounding deadpan, but I can't pretend some moments got me completely undefended and shaped what I thought of it.
What a game, man. I'll be thinking about this for a while.

Reviewed on Jun 03, 2023