We’ve all watched horror films, and yelled at the characters on-screen.
“Don’t run that way!” “No, grab the knife instead!” “Why are these people so stupid?!” Hell, I am sure you have said to something that if YOU were up against the killer, you’d do things differently. Much differently. Well, Friday the 13th The Game is your chance to do just that; try to survive against the unstoppable killing machine that is Jason Voorhees.
Announced way back in 2015, the long-awaited Friday the 13th The Game has had a long gestation cycle. Kickstarter was the game’s Hail Mary, raising over $800,000 from over 12,000 backers. And rightfully so; a lot of the core people from the Friday team over the years were involved. The original film’s director, Sean S. Cunningham was on hand to make sure it had the authentic, Friday touches. Harry Manfredini, composer for eight films in the series, would lend his talent to make sure it sounded just right. Tom Savini provided some insight into the brutality and even designed a special Jason skin. And last but not least, Kane Hodder, America’s favorite Jason, was on hand for all of the mo-cap needs. This was a match made in video game heaven, and one that was sure to make up for the original NES game.
And now here we are, years later, and the game has finally been released. Was it worth the wait?
I want to sound out with a resounding YES, but I will settle for a “mostly” at the moment. Don’t get me wrong, the game is a LOT of fun when it works, but that is part of the reoccurring issue for everyone during release weekend; it doesn’t always work.
Before we get into that, let’s get into the nitty gritty of the game itself.
Never has there been a more authentic serial killer game. Ever. Sure, plenty have tried, and even came moderately close. But Friday the 13th The Game is one of the most fun games I have ever had.
The game is an asymmetrical multiplayer game, much like Evolve and recent killer jaunt, Dead by Daylight. Up to 8 people can play at a time, with 7 of them taking on the roles of camp counselors and one lucky person taking up the mantle of Jason himself.
While playing as one of the counselors, your goal is to survive, by any means necessary. Whether that entails repairing a car to make your escape, phoning the police, radioing Tommy Jarvis for some help, or even just surviving to the end of the round, that is entirely up to you. I heard a lot of complaints on the first day that there isn’t much to do as a counselor, but I disagree. Since you will spend the majority of your time as one of these folks, it’s important to find the one that works best for you.
Each of the playable characters has different strengths and weaknesses. The jock can obviously run faster than most, but he can’t really do well with the technical stuff. The nerdy guy can repair the phone faster than anyone else, but good luck trying to outrun Jason. It’s these typical, cliché roles that help break up the game itself, and allow you to play who you want, how you want. You become part of your own horror film here, and you split second decision making can make or break your survival.
Of course, you can go at it alone to try to survive, but chances are, you won’t make it. The key here is communication, and your ability to stay alive will often depend on your ability to work as a team. Being able to work with the other counselors helps significantly, especially if you all have microphones. Voice chat is proximity based, so you’ll be able to hear those around you. Grab a walkie, though, and you can talk people clear on the other side of the camp.
Working together, it’s much easier to find the gas, the keys, and the battery to get the car moving again. Likewise for the motor boat, or even calling the cops. Teamwork is key, and your chances increase drastically if you do so. Of course, if Jason arrives, you can always forgo that, and throw the others in his path, ensuring your own survival…survival of the fittest, and all that. As Jason nears, the music picks up, pumping your heart rate, and your fear, to new levels.
In fact, the audio cues all around are fantastic. Footsteps crunching the leaves underfoot, glass breaking, and even the famous “Ch Ch Ch Ah Ah Ah” are nice touches that make the game feel like your normal, Friday the 13th film.
Even if you DO get killed during the round, there is a chance you might come back as Tommy Jarvis, and help the kids to defeat Jason. While the chances of that are few and far between, coming back to be the savior of the camp IS a lot of fun, and brings you closer to surviving the round.
That said, if you are killed and want to earn the XP you got during the round, you need to sit around and wait for the round to end. If you bite the dust early on, this could take up to 15 minutes. In today’s world, wanting to jump into the next game is pretty normal, so forcing players to wait until the end of the round is frustrating at times. However, like I mentioned, there is the chance you can come back as Tommy. And you can always spectate the other players to see how things are going. But again…a slight annoyance at times, especially if you want to play again quickly.
Of course, once a round begins, you have a one in eight chance of actually being Jason, and trust me, when that time comes, it is a blast. You will stalk, run, morph, and surprise the counselors; your only mission is to kill each and every single one of them. And of course, being Jason, there is a variety of fun and brutal ways to do just that!
Normal Jason-like kills are aplenty, but there are also context kills; ones that use the environment around you to make things even more hilariously bloody. There is nothing quite as satisfying as chasing someone down across the map, and then smashing their head between your bare hands. Or, as a car is making its daring escape, stepping out in front of it, causing it to crash into you, as you pull the driver out, and spear them with your weapon.
Playing as Jason is amazing fun, and to me, well worth the wait to get to do so. The game perfectly captures the look and feel of him, allowing you special abilities to track down your prey AND catch up to them.
Each round, no matter who you play as, earns you XP. This XP unlocks new counselors, new skills, and even new Jasons to play as. Everyone has their favorites, and it’s a cool system to earn these new rewards.
Really, the look and feel of the game is perfect for the Friday the 13th vibe, and is the most fun I’ve had in a long time. It’s damn near perfect.
And then, we get to the problems…
Look, I know a lot of games have issues when they first come out. It’s unavoidable. But this launch was plagued with a bit more than the usual problems. First off, I don’t think the developers were quite ready for the massive amount of people who wanted to play. As a result, their servers couldn’t handle the load. This resulted in NO ONE really being able to connect to matches on their server. As of the time of this writing, the problem still hasn’t been resolved 100%. I just tried to connect again, but was unable to.
The work around for this is getting invited into private matches. I’ve gone on the game’s official forum a LOT to post my Xbox Gamertag, and even used the hub’s “Looking for Groups” feature. This way, you can connect with others pretty quickly, and not have to sit around waiting for a match to connect. This a major annoyance, but one the developers have been working on all weekend, so hopefully it is resolved soon. But obviously, not being able to play the game you purchased is a big problem.
There is also a lot of bugs and game crashes, which could be related to the server issues. I’ve had my game freeze on me a few times mid-action, and boot me back to the Xbox One home screen. Thankfully, it wasn’t just me, and the whole party jumped back into games shortly after, but after waiting so long for matches to begin, it does begin to wear thin. At times, it does feel like we are playing a beta version of the game, with things running slowly. But when they right correctly, they are wonderful. Patches are incoming across all systems, and will solve most of these soon, hopefully.
The price tag does feel a little steep, at $40, for what amounts to a multiplayer only game. Rumors of a single player mode are abound, allowing you to compete with bots, but that’s still a long way off. There are three maps to play across, each featuring locales from the movies, but at the end of the day, whether or not you feel that $40 is justified will vary.
Growing pains aside, Friday the 13th The Game is a LOT of fun. It’s scary (when you’re a counselor), it’s satisfying to kill others (when you’re Jason), and it’s the perfect companion to the film. Think of it like a game of brutal hide and seek, but with a lot of blood and hilarity at times.
So, I recommend this game highly…but only if the issues plaguing it now are resolved. Perhaps wait a few days, and see what the reports say. That said, if you’re a fan of horror films, I definitely think you will have a blast with this.
For more information on the game itself, visit its official website at: http://f13game.com/