Slayers X: Terminal Aftermanth: Vengance of the Slayer. That feels like a mouthful. I’m gonna call it Slayers X moving forward because that’s literally what it's called on Steam and I don’t want to get winded. Anyways. Slayers X is a Boomer Shooter by Big Z Studios Inc and published by No More Robots Inc., I first heard about it from Civvie11 on YouTube. I thought “This looks alright”, so I downloaded it off of Game Pass and decided to start playing it. And there is some…weird stuff with this game.
To get this out of the way, a lot of this game’s weirdness makes a lot more sense if you’ve played Hypnospace Outlaw. Slayers X serves as something of a companion piece to it because it features one of its characters in something of a weird, self-indulgent power fantasy. You play Zane, one of the X-Slayers who uses the power of Hackblood and gun-infused martial arts to fight off the Psyko Sindikate (I swear I’m not making any of this up) after they kill his mother and mentor and kidnap his girlfriend. All while constantly going on and on about how awesome he is.
I’m not gonna front here, the game’s intro makes it abundantly clear that this has the makings of a game that a 17-year-old edge lord would think is cool and would make two decades later. A lot of it is made with an almost charming lack of self-awareness. Or total self-awareness, I can’t tell, especially since the actual Twitter account for this game is run in character and thus never breaks kayfabe. All of it, from the choice of musical stylings, the art style, the intentionally bad spelling (even in the subtitles), the somewhat quaint faux-cursing, the weirdly obsessive use of scatological humour and more all feels true to a very specific kind of early to mid-2000’s teen culture that was influenced by everything from Limp Bizkit to The Matrix. And while I came up in a different cultural context (the second-generation Canadian experience and R&B/Hip Hop being the primary parts of my formative years), I can very much see where a lot of the influences come from. But don't let the light sociology dive I just did fool you, all of the elements I listed come together to make Slayers X feel like a massive shitpost. Both figuratively and literally. But I don't hate it. It’s got enough weird charm to it that I basically saw it through to the end because of how endearingly cringe it was. And by cringe, I mean in the “God, I was such a dipshit back then, but this was also fun” kind of way. There’s also some interesting stuff in some secret areas that try to tell a deeper story and I appreciate it for that. But we’re here mainly for the cringe.
This also extends to the main gameplay. All of your weapons are the most edgelord things imaginable, you got a weird sword called the S-Blade that can shoot lasers when charged, a shotgun that shoots glass shards, a chain gun that’s called “the Mutilator” that’s adorned with a sawblade, a crossbow that fires chemicals that calls in rats to eat enemies, a triple barrel rocket launcher etc. They all have a delightful sense of escalation to them that highlights how ridiculous it is. But don’t let the outlandish feeling of the arsenal fool you, all of the guns feel great to shoot and enemies great to fight. Even if they are mostly variations of dudes in trench coats.
Slayers X is also surprisingly short as well. Overall, it took me about four or so hours to play through it without doing any extraneous secret hunting. And with this trend I’m on of playing games I can actually finish, I 100% don’t mind because games of this kind were also super short back in the day if you knew what you were doing.
Slayers X serves as something of a weird time capsule. There are other boomer shooters out on the market, and a lot of them are also much better made, but I have a weird soft spot for this. It feels like looking into the graphite notebook of a teenage boy who drew in the margins of their schoolwork while daydreaming of their most awesome self in class. While it does feel like an elaborate shitpost at times, it also feels like it comes from the heart at times too. This feels like it really was a guy trying to reconnect with his lost creativity from his youth. Am I reading too much into this? Probably, but I like to think there’s a kernel of truth to it as well.