The lights go off and Los Santos turns into Carcer City.
Grand Theft Auto Online’s new Slasher mode is as nasty as an 80s VHS tape.
One person is armed with a shotgun hunting down seven victims holding flashlights.
They have three minutes to stay alive in a dark, tight building. If anyone is still standing at the end of the countdown, the tables are flipped and the hunted get the shotgun and a chance for revenge.
It echoes the chilling gameplay of the PS2 era’s most notorious game, Rockstar’s Manhunt. What sounds like a simple game of hide and seek turns out to be a desperate scrap to the death. You become Manhunt’s James Earl Cash. Fight or flight.
The lights are off, and only the bravest of sheep switches on the torch. One hit from the pump action and you’re down and out, watching the rest of the flock through low-fi night vision. There are places to hide in the mansion, slaughterhouse, lab, yacht or office, but you don’t want to stand still for too long.
Force the game into first-person mode and the tension ratchets up. You’re chasing shadows, spooked at a flash of light, freezing when you see a silhouette down the corridor. Friend or fiend?
Manhunt’s vibe hangs heavy over the encounter, from the cold synth soundtrack to the split second violent eruptions. Flashlights are enough to club a man to death if you time it right and are willing to risk a shotgun shell to the chest. The atmosphere makes you play irrationally. The mob beats on the Slasher even when he’s gone down. You’ll pump an extra shell into your victim’s corpse when you know it’s already meat. You can almost hear Manhunt’s Director goading you from the shadows.
Everyone wears the Halloween masks, standing silent with a fixed expression. They could be Manhunt’s Wardog or Innocentz gang members, poking around the meat hooks and hanging carcasses.
Rockstar has already subsumed many of its smaller games into Grand Theft Auto. Smuggler’s Run became Trevor’s drug running side missions via buggy or plane. The tuning and obsessive customisation of Midnight Club are reflected in the Lowriders update.
Now Rockstar’s most nihilistic creation has bludgeoned its way into GTA Online. Los Santos has been turned into Carcer City.
Five Slasher Adversary modes were added to GTA Online with the Halloween Surprise this week and will remain as part of the game going forward.