Game: Friday the 13th: The Game
Genre: Multiplayer Survival Horror
Publisher: Gun Media
In 1989, infamous publisher of movie-licensed games LJN released a Friday the 13th game on NES developed by Atlus (better known nowadays for the JRPG Persona franchise). Needless to say, it was a broken mess that barely had any similarities to the slasher franchise. Since then, everyone’s favorite hockey-masked killer was featured in a couple of games, such as in the fan-made Terrordrome and in NetherRealm’s Mortal Kombat X together with other horror icons like the Predator and Leatherface.
Now, almost 30 years after his last standalone appearance in a game, Jason Voorhees is back, and he never looked better. Developed by IllFonic and published by Gun Media, Friday the 13th: The Game is a multiplayer survival horror game that was funded through Kickstarter. What makes the game special is who collaborated: special effects god Tom Savini designed the kills, Harry Manfredini composed the soundtrack, Kane Hodder (easily the best Jason stuntman) motion-captured as the killer, and Thom Mathews reprises his role as Tommy Jarvis from Part VI.
The developers have promised that, in the following months, there will be major updates that add a single-player mode (it is unclear whether or not it has a campaign or simply adds bots), newer Jasons (especially Jason X’s) and maps (like the yacht from Jason Takes Manhattan).
Each match has 8 players, and their role is randomly selected (even though you can choose which you prefer to play as more often): 7 players become camp counsellors, and 1 player becomes Jason. As of right now, there are a total of 10 counsellors and 6 Jasons.
The counsellors all have different stats (one can sprint longer, one is stealthier, one has more strength, etc.), you can customize their appearance with new clothes unlocked when you level up, and you can spend points to roll a perk that is available for each character.
The pros and cons of Jason vary depending on which iteration of the character you are playing as: Part 2 Jason can sprint and has a pick axe, but cannot move fast underwater; Part 6 Jason is great at shifting and throwing knives, but he cannot run; Part 7 Jason has a machete and can move fast underwater…
When you are playing as a counsellor, your objective is to escape from the camp while avoiding Jason. There are multiple ways to win: you can repair a car by finding batteries and fuel; you can use a boat that needs a propeller and gas; you can call the police and run to them as soon as they arrive. You can also call Tommy Jarvis, which respawns a dead player, whose role is fundamental if you are trying to kill Jason. Around the camp, players can find weapons to use, first aid spray, maps, walkie-talkies, firecrackers, pocket knives and hiding spots in order to defend themselves. There is also an overly-complex Fear system that increases when you are chased or see dead bodies.
When you are playing as Jason, you have four abilities (that unlock over time and need to recharge after you use them) to use in order to kill all the other players: Morph allows you to teleport anywhere on the map; Sense makes nearby counsellors that are scared or making noise visibly red to make them easier to find; Shift lets you move really fast for a limited time in order to catch up to other players; Stalk removes the music of Jason for the counsellors, so that they don’t hear him approaching. Other than the weapon you start with, you can throw knives, plant bear traps, or grab counsellors to insta-kill them using the environment or user-chosen skills that you can unlock with points.
I was fortunate enough to play this game after the disastrous launch, and I can safely say that I had no problems in finding games with low ping and delay. However, graphically speaking, the game is a mixed bag: there are a multitude of bugs and clipping problems that (while not game breaking) are still rather jarring when they happen, the facial animations of the fearful counsellors are unintentionally hilarious, and some cabins feel like they were copy-pasted in terms of layout. Still, the three available camps (Camp Crystal Lake, Packaknack, Higgins Haven) and different versions of the killer are very faithful to their respective movies. Also, the bugs I encountered never really bothered me as much as they did to other players.
The first couple of matches of the game were fine, but I wasn’t really having the time of my life. But, as soon as I plugged my microphone in and started using the voice chat, the game became instantly more fun: talking with other players, cooperating, and chatting with Jason while he is putting a machete in your skull are some of the most fun moments I had in a multiplayer game… ever, honestly. The sense of comradery and brotherhood that develops with other players is a one-of-a-kind experience that made me keep playing the game for well over 10 hours in just a couple of days. The only real issue? There are so many Chinese and Russian players that don’t speak a word of English, and I frequently found myself in servers where 5 players were chatting in Russian.
Overall, while the game is buggy at the moment, the amount of enjoyment you get by chatting with other players, and by trying to both escape or kill is so high that I think that it is a game worth buying, especially if you set your expectations right and are a massive fan of the franchise.