Game: Friday The 13th: The Game
Consoles: PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC
Publisher: Gun Media
Developer: Gun Media
Friday The 13th is a game made up of cheer-worthy highs and frustrating lows. Trying to explore the woods of famous horror film locations all while having the iconic masked killer Jason Voorhees chase you is a terrifying sensation almost no other multiplayer game has been able to replicate. On the flip side, hunting down scared camp counselors is equal parts amusing, gory, empowering, and sadistic. However, despite the fun and unique multiplayer gameplay, Friday The 13th: The Game is riddled with bugs and animation issues that detracted heavily from the experience. Even though the game ultimately emerges from the woods alive, it’s clearly missing an arm or two.
The basic premise of Friday The 13th: The Game is that players either assume the role of a camp counselor partying it up in the woods or the towering force of nature Jason Voorhees. One player is randomly selected as Jason with the other 7 assuming the role of a survivor that needs to escape. This is done by either exiting via a repaired vehicle, killing Jason, calling the police, or simply running out the clock until the match ends. All Jason needs to do is kill all the counselor’s before that happens, which is pretty true to the movies in general. After every round XP and in-game currency is rewarded which can be used to unlock additional outfits, different movie versions of Jasons, and counselors.
At its core Friday The 13th is an incredibly fun game to play with or without friends. Skulking through the woods or frantically sprinting into cabins while Jason chases you is a thrilling experience that perfectly captures what it feels like to be in a horror movie. Even though Jason almost always has the upper hand, counselors have access to a variety of tools that can either stun Jason, repair escape vehicles or heal critical injuries. There’s a light element of resource management that harkens back to the classic Resident Evil games, but it’s never overbearing enough to slow the gameplay down. Players will be constantly faced with dozens of choices every time they enter a new area that helps determine their fate. Making the wrong choice like forgetting to either lock a door or have a healing item will typically end with your counselor getting a machete lodged in their head.
The game also feels well balanced, as neither side as a distinctive advantage over the other that makes one side a chore to play. Even though the survivors cannot actually kill Jason (outside of one convoluted method), the perks system allows for players to equip three passive bonuses such as faster response time if you call the cops or being harder to detect by Jason. These allow for a nice amount of customization and there’s a good enough variety to suit all types of playstyles. Even though the rewards come at a rather slow pace, being able to sell earned perks for more points to spend alleviates some of this frustration.
There is no real story outside of Jason looking to kill a bunch of rowdy teens that are ruining his home, but this is to the game’s benefit. Having any type of a large, more personal narrative would detract from the action and thrilling moment to moment gameplay. Even while there isn’t much at face value to a more general audience, the Friday The 13th faithful will be flooded with homages, nods, and references to the franchise. This adds a nice touch to the game’s atmosphere that does a decent job with not only recreating this iconic series, but the characters within it.
Players are able to run for their lives across three separate maps that feel ripped right out of the classic movies they are inspired by. While this is fantastic for the die-hard fans, it can grow a bit old from a gameplay perspective as the different campgrounds tend to blend together. I understand wanting to stay true to the source material, but the maps lack distinct variation outside of the vehicle locations, key buildings, and road locations. Thankfully, each level absolutely oozes with atmosphere and it’s clear a lot of time went into giving these maps a personal touch.
Sadly, the visuals themselves are extremely hit or miss depending on which side you are playing as. While each of the 10 counselors embodies a classic 80s archetype (The Jock, the pretty girl, the nerd, the gearhead), their facial animations look atrocious. Every time one of them goes to scream, either in-game or in the opening cinematic, it’s hard not to laugh at just how ridiculous they look. Seeing my scared, bug-eyed counselor’s face as he cowers from Jason saps all of the fear from the title and turns Friday The 13th: The Game in a comedy. Jason thankfully gets off better, as his huge figure and painfully slow walk hauntingly replicates this famed slasher. Even the various special kills he can perform are wonderfully realized when the character models actually sync up.
Many of the animations are inconsistent, as characters will clip into the world, get stuck trying to get out of a vehicle, or will just never finish a movement. In one of my games I executed a finisher that was supposed to lop off both of the survivor’s arms, only to have Jason hit the counselor and her arms remained regardless. It breaks the immersion quickly and gives Friday The 13th an unpolished appearance. The game is also littered with bugs both big and small with items just vanishing when you drop them, cars flipping on their sides, and Jason being launched across the map when he’s stunned by firecrackers. These can be both hilarious and utterly abysmal depending on which you get, all of which almost always lead to your character getting killed by Jason.
Friday The 13th: The Game also suffered from a plethora of technical issues upon its release with widespread issues of connecting to matches or the game itself. While this has largely been patched, it was frustrating to be unable to even play the game for hours at a time. However, since the update my game has yet to have a hard crash or issues with connecting to matches both in private and public servers.
Make no mistake, Friday The 13th is a very fun game when everything finally clicks together. Running around and trying to survive with others is a blast and being able to induce panic by just looking in the window as Jason may cause you to crack a grin or two. Even with the animation issues and bugs my time with Friday the 13th was largely enjoyable. However, if you are looking to pick up this multiplayer title is might be best if you wait a few months for everything to get smoothed out. As it stands, Friday The 13th: The Game is unable to live up to the legendary horror films it draws from.
- Great moment to moment gameplay
- Organic fear and tension
- Playing as Jason is a blast
- Fun homages to the franchise
- Bugs everywhere
- Some wonky animations
- Server and connection issues