I could tell within a single hour of play that Friday the 13th the Game was going to be a pretty tough game to score, but after several hours of additional play, I feel quite comfortable with the score that it’s earned. Why is this game harder to score than most titles? Because despite the addictive gameplay, the interesting mechanics, and the pure tension that’s bestowed on the player, there’s just far too many issues with the experience to justify a higher score, but we’ll get to these flaws in due course.
To those of you that don’t know, Friday the 13th the Game is yet another successful Kickstarter project that pulled in more than enough money to see it through production. The developers were not only open and upfront during the development process, but even offered up a Beta to allow players to test the game and provide much valued feedback. It’s a shame however that feedback didn’t help the developers fix the blatantly obvious bugs that make the game far less enjoyable than it should be. Now before I continue, I want to make it known that this game is a heap of fun. As far as asymmetrical multiplayer games go, I’ve had an absolute blast with Jason Voorhees and his terrified victims. On the other hand, I’ve been forced to endure some pretty horrendous predicaments.
Gameplay consists of seven counsellors vs one Jason Voorhees. There’s a total of three semi-open world maps (with more on the way) that include Packanack Lodge, Crystal Lake, and Higgins Haven. Each of these maps are well made and provide plenty of opportunities for both prey and predator. Getting into a match however is an entirely different beast, thanks to the fact that the developers underestimated how many people would buy the game. Where does that leave you? It has you listening to Jason’s iconic “Ki ki ki, Ma ma ma” at the title screen for in excess of 5 minutes. I have yet to find a match via the “Quick Play” option, meaning I have to resort to using Xbox One’s built in LFG feature. The developers have stated that they are in the process of moving to new servers, but we haven’t been given a time-frame as to when that transition will occur.
When I finally made it into a match using the LFG tool, I was loaded in as a counsellor. When you’re playing as any one of the counsellors, the aim of the game is to survive or kill Jason. Naturally you’re drawn to taking down Voorhees, but after a few rounds you’ll learn that this is much harder than it seems. There’s a drawn out process to taking down this legendary killer, which often includes a level of teamwork.
First up you will need to call in Tommy Jarvis by finding a radio in one of the many cabins within. Once Tommy spawns in, a player that has already been killed will take control. Anyone that is playing as a female counsellor will need to grab Pamela’s sweater from Jason’s spawning shack, but this will make Jason immediately aware of your location. Then you and your team will need to whack Jason’s mask off by bopping him on the head several times. At this point, whoever is wearing Pamela’s sweater will be able to stun him by imitating his mother. Simply smack him again with a weapon and he will fall to his knees, to which Tommy Jarvis (using a picked up machete) can trigger a final cutscene that will kill Jason once and for all.
If you plan on evading the brutal murderer, this can be achieved by surviving the full 20 minutes of the round, or by escaping via one of the vehicles within the map. If for example you plan on making your escape by car, you’ll need to locate a car, keys, fuel, and a battery. Items are randomly generated and spread across many of the objects within the several cabins, which really adds a great deal of risk vs reward for each and every match. You’re never truly certain as to what will be located where, so it pays off to rummage through each building as much as possible. You can also pick up a variety of weapons such as bats, knives, machetes, flare guns, and many more. You have a stamina bar that you need to keep a very close eye on, because once this depletes, your character will move slowly and stumble more often. When you have Voorhees on your ass, this is the last scenario you want to find yourselves in.
As you progress and achieve certain rewards, you can unlock more counsellors and / or versions of Jason. Each of which can be customised with various perks and specialised kills, respectively. It helps to build a character that you feel comfortable with, leaning to perks that will aid you in a range of specific ways. Communication is key, which is why (if in game-chat) it’s vital that you track down one of the walkie talkie’s that will be randomly placed in a cabin. This is the only way that you can communicate with other players, unless you’re within close proximity to one another, in which you can hear each other without the need of the aforementioned item. It really does feel well balanced and way more terrifying than I expected. The only hint you will get that Jason is close-by is via the sudden climb in theme-music volume, and believe me when I say, it’s tense. It doesn’t matter whether you’re hiding in a tent, under a bed, in a wardrobe, or anywhere else, you will brick it when you hear that noise.
When you’re playing as Jason, the mechanics shift quite a bit. You’re able to fast travel anywhere on the map, you can warp for great distances at high speed, you can throw knives, locate your victims via sensing them, and utilise a wide collection of different kill-animations. This, of course, comes on top of being able to melee, lay down bear-traps, and smash open cabin doors and interior walls. Counsellors can break free from your grasp, so long as they have the necessary tool to do so, which tends to be a single-use knife that get’s jabbed into your neck. I found playing as Jason to be heaps and heaps of fun, more so when the opposition are scattered and running around like headless chickens. If however the counsellors are banding together like a pack of wolves, it’s much harder to get the jump on someone, which promotes this “divide and conquer” sort of approach. Regardless as to how each mach plays out, it’s a hoot.
With that being said, if there’s anything more monstrous in this game than Jason Voorhees, it’s the bugs. Sadly you can’t jam in a knife in the bugs or find a car to evade them, because they’re freakin everywhere. Problems such as delayed animations during a grasp, falling through the map, getting stuck in the environment, rendering problems, and my personal favourite, crashing. That’s not the end of line unfortunately, laughable animations and poor hit detection are also present. Friday the 13th the Game would have massively benefited from some time in Xbox Game Preview, or at least further in-house testing and open-beta’s for all platforms. As it stands, there’s just far too many faults in the game to justify either the price, or a recommendation.
The visuals are good and there’s certainly no shortage of originality in the execution here, but that doesn’t save the game from the unforgivable issues noted above. The price of the game is fairly high, coming in at £30 / $40. When you take the problems, the lack of maps, and the absence of matchmaking into account, it’s hardly a worthy exchange. The biggest shame in all of this, and I’ll refer to my opening point about this game being difficult to score, is that despite the flaws, it’s a very fun game to play. However if I am to be totally subjective and fair to any potential consumer that stumbles upon this review, it’s a broken experience. It should not have been released in this state unless it was going through Game Preview. The issues within are just far too dominant and in-your-face for me to believe that the developers were unaware of many of these problems prior to launch. Some strenuous post launch support and patching is needed, there’s no denying that.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.