‘Slitterhead’ Preview: Hands-On with ‘Silent Hill’ Creators’ New Horrific Beast


When the first Slitterhead trailer was revealed back in December of 2021, there was a surge of survival horror that the trailer was dripping with. Mix that with the fact that Silent Hill creator Keiichirō Toyama was headline development in Bokeh Studios’ new project Slitterhead. On June 7, 2024, we got our first glimpse at gameplay, which, in fact, seemed more action-focused than a slow, tension-raising survival horror game. From the mixed reaction, it seems fans were unsure what to make of this. But, having gone hands-on for an hour, I can tell you the idea of the gameplay mechanics comes across much more clearly with a gamepad in hand. That being said, there is still a long way to go, but I am hopeful.

A Slow, Linear Demo

The general setup is we play as an unknown entity who has the power to possess and unlock the skills lurking in bystanders’ blood. For the majority, this includes a small knife made out of hardened blood used to attack and defend. For the demo, we played the opening tutorial level, which had us slowly going through the town, which was more of a linear experience. As we possessed more bystanders and gathered more memories of our past, our powers grew, from learning how to move around while in possession mode to learning how to run. It’s a slow and methodical approach to a tutorial, but one I found necessary as a lot is going on in the skill system of Slitterhead.

Closing out the tutorial, our character notices he can see through Slitterhead’s eyes as they go to attack someone he figures is important. As we take them over, we realize that some bystanders are more in tune with their power, and possessing them unlocks incredible blood powers resembling what I can only describe as blood claws. This also shows off some cooler mechanics to keep in mind while fighting the monstrosities that Slitterhead throws against the player. One of my favorite skills turns the possessed body into a bomb that you have to jump out of at the last second to do the most damage.

Jumping Ahead In Slitterhead

Next, we jumped roughly halfway through Slitterhead. Here, it was explained that you would have a stable of special characters that you choose from at the start of each mission. Each character seemed to play much differently. In this preview, I was given two characters: one was the character from the prologue mission, and the other was a man with a blood shotgun. He was much slower to attack but hit harder, as the other character was quicker, but her damage output was smaller. Both had different skill sets as well, but without going into them much, they both kept the same general rule: Use nearby people as your weapons.

In this second mission, we get a better look at how boss fights will play out in Slitterhead, as well as how snappy and quick the traversal is. First, we came upon this boss who looked normal but, after a quick cutscene, turned into a body horror monster made up of so many arms and blood that I didn’t really know what I was looking at. During boss fights, you have to manage how well you use bystanders, as you have a skill that will summon them and another that makes them swarm the boss. Between that and using Slitterhead‘s interesting blocking mechanic, where you have to hold your weapon at the same angle your enemy is attacking from, a lot is going on in these fights, almost overwhelmingly so.

Getting Around Town

After taking it down to half health, the boss escapes, and this is where we get to see Slitterhead‘s primary use of traversal. Besides possessing people to reach new heights, there’s also a grapple you can use to swing off posts. But the main method is quickly switching between possessions and a blatant disregard for their body’s life. This is quickly presented to the player as one bystander I had possessed needed to jump off a roof to let me get close enough to another person. Seeing how the world reacted as my previous character splattered to the ground was truly interesting. My new one casually walked away while everyone else on the streets was running and screaming at the sight of horror.

That was a big takeaway for me during my time with Slitterhead. While it may not be a survival horror game on its face, it is still an action horror game, with most of those elements coming in from its grotesque characters and the sheer amount of blood and body horror on display. The amount of detail shown in some transformations as the skin splits and heads open up like a flower, leaving this pustule mass rising up with a tongue like a razor whip, is a lot to take in. But I’m definitely here for it.

The Verdict?

With the mixed reaction online to the trailer of Slitterhead, I’m happy to say that getting hands-on made it more compelling, even if it still feels like there is a long way to go. I’m interested in how they expand the powers and how character shifting will evolve to keep that gameplay fresh. For now, I am cautiously optimistic for Slitterhead and all of the gruesome body horror it wants to display.



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