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Bloodwash Brings the Scares With a Classic Slasher Vibe

The latest release under the Torture Star Video label, home of Puppet Combo, lum’s Search Party and Chilean developer Ignacio Maldonado’s The Horror of Salazar House, Created by Jordan King (who goes by the handle LeggoMyGiallo on Twitter which is frankly amazing) and Henry Hoare, Bloodwash takes the terror to an unlikely venue–a laundromat. Of course, this one includes a horrifying secret. Torture Star focuses on funding small developers who create high-quality horror experiences and so far every title has been a slam dunk.

Bloodwash is another stellar entry into the PS1-style horror game catalog. It’s set up like a classic slasher, with protagonist Sara discovering the backstory behind the disappearances of several women and some grisly murders. The big baddie in Bloodwash is called the Womb Ripper, which is wonderfully gruesome. They would fit in quite well with the Michael Myers’ and Jasons. Pregnancy horror is something I’ve talked about before, but having a baby ripped out of you is on another level.

Sara has recently moved into a run-down apartment and needs to do some laundry before a job interview the next day. Unfortunately, the machine is out of order, forcing her to go to a laundromat on the edge of town. The bus driver tells her that it’s a bad part of town and not safe for this time of night. Where would we be if final girls ever listened to this advice? She’s also accosted by a strange man on the bus who demands to sit with her. Uhh yeah, no thanks, dude.

a dimly lit apartment lobby. a large screaming skull is graffitied on the wall

Once you get to the laundromat and start the washer cycle, you’ll have time to explore and talk to the other storekeepers in the strip mall. Several comic books can be picked up and read, and they’re all beautiful. Collecting evidence like newspapers lets you talk with NPCs about the tragic events surrounding the burnt-down laundromat next to the shiny new one. There are several pieces that are missable so be sure to check around every corner.  This “calm before the storm” gets you in the right headspace for the climax of the game. There’s also some fun cameos from other Puppet Combo titles here and even a reference to Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama. Two arcade games are playable, and I’m a huge sucker for these game-with-a-game matryoshkas.

It’s certainly not the first game to use a VHS filter but it’s one of the better ones. It doesn’t feel distracting or overdone, it just adds to the overall feel, like you are watching an 80s film someone stashed away and is now seeing the light of day. These effects can be turned off in the options menu if they are not to your taste.

The game also uses some tropes of the genre to full effect, like jump-scares (they all got me and I accidentally scared my cats in the process), calls from unknown numbers, tense music, and an overall deliciously grimy atmosphere. It also features the “harmless but weird” stereotype, so you’re not sure who the killer is at first.

After your clothes are done the real fun begins as you run away from the masked killer, who’s slaughtered everyone else in the building. Sara calls 911 and you get a different point-of-view as a cop investigates which breaks up the game nicely.

a masked killer drags a dead body away in a laundromat

One thing I appreciate about indie horror, especially in this subgenre of retro slashers, is they don’t outstay their welcome. They generally only take an hour or two to beat give or take if you want to get all the achievements. It’s similar to the length of a film so it makes perfect sense. The price point for the majority of these is quite low, usually less than 10 dollars. That’s less than the cost of a movie ticket (not that many of us are going to the theatre right now anyway) for a similar experience. In fact, they can be even more rewarding–indie horror has some of the best horror gaming titles in recent years. Move over Resident Evil!

There’s a lot of discussions in the gaming community as a whole lately about the length of a game VS its supposed worth. I think it does a disservice to developers if your biggest complaint is a game’s length. Not only do most of us simply not have the time to dedicate 100 or more hours to a single title but lately, I find myself getting to the point where I just want a game to be over and that is not a great feeling! So to be able to tackle a small title like this in one night is perfect.

While I don’t want to give away the dramatic final events of Bloodwash, let’s just say this spin cycle is out of control in the best way possible. I’m usually a console gamer so my mouse aiming is, let’s just say, not the greatest so the tension was ramped up as I flailed around wildly trying to get away from the Womb Ripper.

Games like this are really special and I think have the ability to bring those otherwise not interested in exploring horror to open their eyes to what fun it can be, whether by yourself or watching a streamer scream when the killer pops out. If you like this game there are plenty of films, you’ll probably enjoy including The Prowler, Maniac Copand the newly released Malignant

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Written by Lor Gislason

Lor is a body horror enthusiast from Vancouver Island, Canada who can be found chilling with their two cats and playing farming simulators. Find them on Twitter: @lorelli_

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