Asymmetrical multiplayer games are nothing new. Evolve and Dead by Daylight are the games that first come to mind. Neither are franchise games. If it’s based on something, be it a fast food franchise or a movie, chances are it will have a video game based on it at some point. The Nintendo Entertainment System was notorious for this with titles like Top Gun, The Noid, and Friday the 13th. Speaking of the NES’ Friday the 13th, it was notorious for being difficult. The horror movie franchise has not seen a console game since then. Until now.
Friday the 13th: The Game originally started as an homage to 1980’s slasher films titled Summer Camp. The game got some notoriety with Tom Savini joining the development team as cinematographer and head of visual effects. Savini served as makeup effects artist on the original movies. Another big help came from Kane Hodder, the only actor or stuntman to play Jason Voorhees more than once. He provided motion capture for the the machete-wielding maniac in game.
Once the development team, Illfonic, obtained the license to the famed horror franchise, they launched a Kickstarter to assist the development of the game. The team asked for $700,000 with stretch goals going all the way up to $5.5 million. The Kickstarter raised over $800,000 with the help of 12,000 backers. Previous works of Illfonic include Star Citizen and Sonic Boom.
The launch of Friday the 13th: The Game was a rocky one, and at the time of this review, it is still in a rough patch. The game’s servers were overloaded on launch day, reaching around 75,000 concurrent players. The team was prepared for at most 50,000 players. Quick matches have been unable to work since launch, and if by some miracle they do work, it may take upwards of 20 minutes. Bugs and glitches were rampant as well. Some issues include a database login error (the most common, causing players to be unable to even get into the main menu), disconnections in the middle of games, getting stuck inside cars when trying to start them, and players becoming invisible after getting “killed.” A PC patch was released on May 31st with PS4 and Xbox One patches coming soon. Illfonic has been constantly updating the community on updates for the game.
The gameplay can be very confusing at first. There is no tutorial or hints at all, in-game or in a menu. There are button prompts to do an action, however. Going to open a door? Press A. Want to dive through a window quickly? Double tap A. Want to barricade a door? Hold A. It will take you a game or two to get used to how things work. Do they work all the time? No. My main problem is when trying to close a door I just went through. I press A to close the door behind me, but I must not have gone through the door enough because I stepped back outside and shut the door. Great. Jason isn’t after me or anything. Thanks.
How do you win as a counselor? Well, it’s not really a “team wins or team loses” thing. It’s some pseudo-team thing.You can work together to escape on a boat or in a car, or call the police to the exit of the camp. If you survive, it will tell you “You escaped,” but if you die, it will say “You died.” Nothing is said about Jason getting taken down or found. If you die, you see Jason heading back to his shack hearing the voice of his mother, Pamela Voorhees. If you’re lucky enough, as well as skilled enough, the counselors can take down and kill Jason. Will it happen often? No. In almost a week of playing, I have yet to see it. I have seen Looking For Group posts for that specific achievement but I feel that takes the achievement out of it. It’s more a gift, as you didn’t have to work for it.
There are three maps to play on: Crystal Lake, Higgin’s Haven, and Packanack. All of these are locations from the films, and as a fan it was nice to revisit them. They are somewhat procedurally generated, dropping buildings in different spots and items in different places. Nothing will be in the same location every time.
There are quite a few Jason models to choose from, each with their own pros and cons. They are from film parts 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, and 9. These are the most varied designs. Tom Savini created a custom Jason as a pre-order bonus which makes Jason look as though he escaped Hell, complete with fireballs for eyes. You are able to buy different executions for Jason with CP (customization points). Some of these include punching someone’s heart out of their body, squeezing their head and crushing it, and even some weapon kills like stabbing the victim in the throat and sliding the machete down and down, almost all the way through between their legs.
Counselors are based on horror movie tropes. There are an athletic male and female, the goth girl, the average Joe, the chubby comic relief, and the “edgy cool guy.”All counselors have different clothing options available after reaching different XP levels. Nothing too exciting as of yet. Hopefully some of the later ones provide some interesting customization options. Counselors are also able to roll perks. You pay 500 CP to get a random perk to help you escape, such as being able to climb through windows faster than normal or starting with a walkie-talkie or map. The game also features a film protagonist, Tommy Jarvis, as a playable character once he is called and a counselor dies. He comes with a shotgun handy when spawned.
Is Friday the 13th a fun game? Yes. Is it perfect? Far from it. Do I still recommend it? Yes. The game is definitely not worth the $40 price tag right now, and I can’t stress that enough. Once the patch comes through, which for Xbox One should be Thursday June 1st or perhaps a day or two later. Xbox has the hardest QA test for patches, claims Illfonic, so it will take longer than the other consoles. The developers have said that the single player Jason mode will get patched in sometime in the summer, but no specific date has been given.
- Horror atmosphere is perfect
- Gameplay is fun when it works
- Perfect homage to the films
- Disconnects happen frequently
- Light on content
- Massive server issues