If this Christmas your wonderfully decorated tree starts talking to you, instructing you to kill, please don’t listen to it. Go and seek help instead. That is unless you’re playing Puppet Combo’s Christmas Massacre. In which case, slay away.
First released on PC in 2021, Christmas Massacre is best described as Hotline Miami crossed with a Christmas-themed slasher film. And now it’s available on PlayStation consoles, allowing more people to bathe in its gory, festive spirit. You’re in control of this video nasty-turned-videogame, guiding the troubled Larry through a series of stages in which your aim is to simply kill everyone. Why? Well, that isn’t something you have to concern yourself with. Your Christmas tree told you to do it, and whatever the tree says goes.
Initially you’re likely to approach each stage with apprehension. You may be the killer here, but if just one potential victim gets wind of your presence they’ll run for the exit. If they make it, that’s it – you’re caught and have the start the stage over. Stick to the shadows and you’re pretty much invisible. You can interact with light switches, too, which has the added benefit of sometimes attracting attention.
Once you’ve learned the layout of a stage, however, stealth gives way to all-out carnage. While others will simply want to make their way through all of Christmas Massacre’s stages and call it a day, others will want to master them. That requires you to beat them as fast as possible, quickly racking up kills to form a formidable combo.
It’s something that requires a fair amount of planning and skill. Each stage has to be approached like a puzzle. There’s undoubtedly a best route through each, and timing also plays a part – catching a roaming victim at an opportune time pays dividends. Luck also play a role, unfortunately. Christmas Massacre is pretty basic mechanically, and hit detection can be a bit hit and miss. Sometimes you’ll slash down with your primary weapon – a knife – and you’ll inexplicably miss. You can give pursuit, but it’s hard to catch up what with the dark visuals and tight environments.
Christmas Massacre isn’t the biggest game in the world – you’ll likely be done with all of its stages in a few hours or less. There are fun extras to unlock, however, such as a range of of outfits. And as mentioned previously, some players are likely to return to stages, trying them time and time again in order to improve their ranking. Along with its budget price, think of it as a stocking filler: a little Christmas treat that’s not exactly wholesome but enjoyable while it lasts.
Something a little bit different from Puppet Combo, Christmas Massacre puts the shoe on the other foot, putting you in the position of power in a retro-horror setting. You’re the killer here. You’re the villain. Instead of fighting for your own life, you’re seeking to put an end to others’. It proves to be a challenging and morbidly enjoyable endeavour, even if the the game itself isn’t the most mechanically robust. If you’ve got the stomach for it and enjoy the macabre, Christmas Massacre is definitely worth giving a go. At the very least, it’ll let you release some steam if you get stressed this Christmas.