When you hear Friday the 13th, what comes to mind? A crazed killer stalking and disposing of overly horny teenagers in gruesome ways? How about one of the most successful slasher series of all time? Both are true, but what about video games? In the almost 40 year run of the series, only two have been made, one for the NES and now Friday The 13th: The Game on PC, Xbox One, and PS4.
The game was developed by Illfonic, and published by Gun Media. Friday the 13th is a survival horror, multiplayer game set across some of the most memorable locations throughout the films’ 37-year history: Higgins Haven (Part 3), Packanack Lodge (Part 2), and no Friday the 13th would be complete without Camp Crystal Lake (Part 1,6, and Freddy Vs Jason).The maps are beautiful reconstructions of the movie sets, the developer even went so far as to re-create, by scratch, Higgins Haven, which was burned to the ground after a fan had tried to re-create one of the scenes from the third film. For a fan of the series, it tugs at the heart strings to visit locations from the films. It shows the developers level of detail and commitment to the franchise. Jason’s designs are straight from the movies with the exception of one, which was created solely for the backers of the game.
Eight players are placed into an online match, where one player is randomly selected to play as Jason Voorhees; the rest are counselors who need to either kill Jason or escape. Jason’s job is to catch and kill all the counselors during the twenty-minute match. Jason is able to eliminate the players through “kills” bought with experience points or environmental kills found throughout the maps.
When playing as the counselors, one of the main objectives is to escape. There are several ways to escape, such as calling the police or repairing a vehicle. In order to do any of the following, players will need to collect items hidden all over the map in order to repair phones and vehicles to escape. The goal is made that much harder with Jason popping up at every turn.
The gameplay is unbalanced, Jason is overpowered, and that’s surprisingly a good thing. It makes the game seem like the films, giving the players a real threat and forcing them to work together to survive. This is what makes Friday the 13th fun. However, this is soured by poor controls. The controls are sluggish and don’t always want to interact with the what they are supposed to. It can add an unnecessary frustration to the game, especially if you need a gas can or a machete to defend yourself with. Movements are also sluggish. Characters will either want to run or walk, without too much pressure on the analog. There had been several times that I had been offed, due to a door not closing or my character wanting to walk instead of run.
The music is wonderfully done and composed by Harry Manfredini, who composed the music to all but two of the films. Now, since this is a horror game, the music blends into the atmosphere and makes an encounter with Jason, that much more epic. A musical cue will play when Jason is close and it ties into the game’s sound beautifully. The score portrays the calm and nurturing nature of the forest, while also a bit of paranoia. When the player is being stalked, you can hear the panic in the music, almost as an adrenaline kick to make the player move out of harm’s way. It transfers well from the movies to the game.
Some of the graphics are amazing! The way Jason looks. The way he is animated. The team seemed to have taken their time with Jason and it shows; they even had Kane Hodder (the only actor to play Jason more than once) perform the character’s motion capture for the game. It blows the mind, how authentic this game gets when it comes to the license.
The same, however, can’t be said for the counselors. . .
Their animations are plain and basic. They have a general look to them and their facial animations are horrendous, some will even have this shocked look all throughout the match and it makes the experience feel hokey, and not in a good way. One thing that I had noticed while playing, is that some objects stand out, not matching the tone. The game is full of dark colors and randomly there will be a bright group of tents or a red door. While I think this may have been the developers’ intention to not make the scene not seem so gloomy and to show the player that they can interact with these objects, they seem to take away from the foreboding atmosphere of the game.
Some of the real frustration of the game is how quickly it can get old. The flair wore off after about six hours of straight play. You do have the ability to level up and earn new Jasons to use and more kills to unlock, but that’s about it. The developers did throw in something called the Pamela Tapes, which allow the player to get a glimpse into Jason’s mother’s mind (if you didn’t know, she was the killer in the first film). They are randomly generated and placed throughout the levels. However, players are constantly being hunted by Jason, and unless you’re a hardcore fan of the series, there is no need to collect them.
Friday the 13th delivers a unique experience– when the game works. The game is currently filled with bugs and the matchmaking servers simply do not work. The developers probably didn’t anticipate just how many players would actually be playing the game, causing server issues. It pains me to say this about a franchise I love so dearly, but the game isn’t ready yet and it feels rushed. I will never regret giving the developers $40.00 for their dream project. Although, now that the game is released, I feel the price was too high.
When the game does work, it feels fantastic and captures the thrill of the films, being hunted or hunting individuals. This isn’t the worse licensed game I’ve ever played, but it was one that I feel a little disappointed in. I had fun and I had frustration. Only time will tell if I re-visit the game and have the time of my life.