by Thomas Mikkelsen
reviewed on PC
The name’s Slater, Mark Slater
The Slater is a first-person stealth/infiltration game that desperately wants to be Hitman. It so desperately wants to be Hitman that it fails to be The Slater.
You (Mark Slater) are the son of a murdered detective who was investigating a new, highly addictive designer drug called D-Pain. A year after your father’s murder, you take the law into your own hands to take down the criminals who murdered your father and to get the D-Pain drug off the streets. Armed with a silenced pistol and your bare hands, you make your way to a dive bar where you’re tasked with killing two drug dealers and retrieving a briefcase containing information about the production and distribution of the drug. With the information from that briefcase, your next target is revealed and your next mission is unlocked.
This is the formula that remains consistent throughout The Slater. A handful of targets to kill, some information to steal, and make your way back to the car to make your getaway. Rinse & repeat. Some areas in the game are off-limits unless you’re wearing the right costume and if anyone sees you there, they’ll start shooting at you right away. If you walk past guards after they’ve told you to stop, they’ll kill you. And, of course, if you unholster your gun in public, they’ll also kill you. There seems to be no middle-ground with them, though, because if you follow their colleague into the bathroom, strangle him and take his clothes, they won’t give you a second glance. They’ll just ask how you’re doing without expecting a response (in typical American fashion) and send you on your merry ways.
The targets patrol a fixed path through the map, and you can spend a few seconds observing that path on the map in the menu to identify the room in which they’re meant to be killed. There’s usually one place they go where they’re alone for a few seconds before turning around and heading back into public. This is where the game intends for you to kill them and there’s very little variety involved. There’s one way to get into the room unseen (usually pretty obvious), one corner you can stand in where the target won’t see you as they enter, and the room always has a way to hide the body. Compared to most modern stealth/infiltration games, this feels rigid and formulaic, but the level design is good, so it’s not frustrating in any way. The paths are obvious and you always know where to go, but the game’s scope feels hampering.
Visually, the game is quite dated. The character models and animations seem robotic and poor, and the voice-acting is barely passable. The game’s real drawback is the writing, however. The dialogue reads as though a ten-year-old thought to themselves: “what would a bad-ass ex-cop vigilante sound like” and applied the resulting over-the-top naivete to the rest of the cast. It is forgivable when games written by non-English speaking developers sound a bit off, but when the whole thing feels foreign - when unnatural sentence formations are used consistently - the result is a failure to immerse the player into the story.
The Slater is a relatively short game with decent level design and a low price point. At 14€ on Steam, I won’t say it’s a bad deal. It’s not a particularly good one either. Get it if you’re a huge fan of the stealth/infiltration genre and need to play everything on offer in that niche. Just be aware that there are superior games out there that will undoubtedly serve better to satisfy your assassination fantasies.
Fair level design
Dreadful writing, dated visuals, linear/formulaic design, dumb enemy AI.