Friday the 13th: The Game Review – All About the Social Aspect of Dying and Killing

Friday the 13th: The Game
IllFonic/Gun Media

When it comes to the gaming industry as a whole, sometimes I sit back and think—why hasn’t this type or that type of game been made yet? One of those glaring vacuums within the industry are the lack of asymmetrical horror games. For instance, just the other day I was talking to my friend and saying: “Could you imagine if they would have made Alien: Isolation as an asymmetrical multiplayer game? Like where one player played the alien and the others were crew members or members of a search party? That would have been so cool!”

Another mystery that I can’t figure out is why no one has really delved into the rich history of horror movies that we have here in the United States. I mean come on—we have the Halloween, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Nightmare on Elm Street franchises to draw from. And what slasher horror series could possibly be more iconic than Friday the 13th? Why haven’t these world famous series’ been tapped into and exploited for the benefit of giving gamers some seriously cool (and frightening) horror experiences?

In the past, I could see the argument being that it was too hard for gaming developers to secure the rights to use many of these horror film stalwarts. But in this day and age of corporate consolidation, even these gigantic conglomerations have their own dedicated video game development houses, so that’s no longer an excuse. It just baffles me why there aren’t any worthwhile games that let us indulge in our favorite horror franchises.

Luckily, IllFonic seems to have heard the clarion call. After managing to obtain the rights to create a game based on the Friday the 13th franchise, they sought (and successfully received) funds via Kickstarter and SlackerBacker crowdfunding campaigns. The result? Friday the 13th: The Game was born. So how does it fare and was it worth the wait you ask? Well read on and find out…

Each match of Friday the 13th: The Game is played across one of three reasonably diverse maps. There’s Camp Crystal Lake, Higgens Haven, and Packanack Lodge. Once a round starts, players are treated to seeing an AI character murdered in grisly fashion by Jason Voorhees, causing all of the camp counselors (the players) to scatter off, in order to try and escape.

Playing as one of up to seven potential counselors on each map makes you feel extremely vulnerable from the get go. Compared to Jason, you’re almost like a fly caught in a spider’s web struggling valiantly to break free. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re powerless. There are ways that you can stun or even break loose from Jason’s clutches if you act quickly enough. Communication is also key among the counselors, as that will allow you to set up distractions while others sneak around and perform other crucial actions.

Speaking of which, there are several actions you can take in order to survive each match’s twenty minute time limit. You can either try to stay alive for the entire match, thus outlasting Jason; re-equip a car or boat and escape in it; or reaching the police via telephone and having them show up at the front gate in order to rescue whomever is still alive. Jason can be killed, but it is extremely hard to do since a specific set of circumstances must be aligned before you have a chance of pulling off that almost insurmountable task.

If you want to play the game as Jason, you have several tools at your disposal for disposing of those pesky little counselors. Merely breaking lights or windows can strike fear into the counselors, making their fear meters rise, and therefore easier for Jason to detect. Once you’ve detected your prey you can either move in on them and start hacking away with your machete, or grab them by the throat and break their scrawny little necks. Jason also comes with an ability called Shift which allows him to teleport around each map. This evokes the Friday the 13th films to a tee, as we’ve all seen how Jason could seem to be walking calmly behind someone and then suddenly appear somewhere in front of them (and then of course quickly dispatching them).

This game of cat and mouse plays out much more fluidly than the other game that it is often compared to (and fairly), Dead by Daylight. That’s because each match of Friday the 13th: The Game has so many more variables at play. There are more ways to outwit Jason, more ways to escape, and many more different types of executions (for Jason) and hiding opportunities (for counselors). There’s also a progression system at play, allowing for different perks and loadouts for counselors and a variety of skills, powers, and additional executions for Jason.

Once your poor little counselor dies, you get to stay in the game as a spectator. This can not only be fun in a social sense, as you scream and giggle while trying to advise any survivors who are left, but you could even get the chance to come back into the game as Tommy Jarvis at some point and try to rescue the rest of the survivors.

There are a couple of negatives to point out, however. The movement controls are very fidgety, and sometimes the animations themselves are jerky and wonky looking. There’s also no way to configure the game’s controls. Some of the counselor’s animations look pretty goofy as well, such as bizarre looking wide-eyed expressions or the fact that parts of their bodies will instantly turn into a large, blood red patches when they sustain damage.

Graphics-wise the game is serviceable if a bit on the bland side. The environments look pretty static, although the characters themselves are pretty well done. Games like this aren’t really meant to be super-pretty looking however, as it’s much more of a social experience rather than a graphical tour de force.

On that note, people going into playing Friday the 13th: The Game may want to consider playing it less like a competitive multiplayer game (such as a third person shooter), and more like a social game. Yes, Jason is overpowered, and he should be. Using your wits and good communication should give your counselors a good fighting chance, and there is so much fun to be had when both parties are goofing around with each other (taunts, anyone?).

In all, Friday the 13th: The Game can be a super-fun gaming experience if you go into playing it with the right mindset.

SCORE: 79%

Friday the 13th: The Game offers some decent graphics that match its slasher theme. However, you have to have a pretty fast gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:

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