I should preface that this review is based off of approximately 20 hours of gameplay over the course of the weekend and while I’m fully aware of the ongoing server issues, I didn’t really use them as a factor in reviewing this game because I was able to get a solid 20+ hours in of playing via private matches and searching for gamers option on XBox (really a saving grace this weekend)
What is there to say about Friday the 13th? Watching these movies is easily one of my most beloved and cherished memories growing up in the 80s. My best friends and I were horror movie junkies and Friday the 13 was a cornerstone of our youth. I even had the original game for NES and somehow (i can’t recall though I think Nintendo Power helped us) we did finish it.
Fast forward all these years and I hear about this Kickstarter campaign to bring Jason Vorhees back from the dead and back into the gaming spotlight but a small indie team at Illfonic and Gun Media. I will be the first to admit that I was more than a little skeptical about the project but man was it ever interesting looking and even a little exciting but I just wasn’t sure they’d be able to deliver so I abstained from supporting them.
Now the time has come and after much deliberation, discussion with friends who backed the game and much time spent watching gameplay videos, I was compelled and bought it on Friday.
The game is an asymmetrical multiplayer video game, with up to eight people able to play in one game. One player controls Jason Voorhees, while the others are camp counselors. making his return to the series is Tommy Jarvis(reprised by Thom Matthews who played the character role in Friday the 13th VI: Jason Lives), who becomes playable when certain conditions are met. The objective of the counselors is to escape from the camp by car, boat, calling the police and making it to a specific exit point or survive until time runs out on the session. Players in control of Jason.. well.. KILL JASON KILL. Jason can be defeated with by performing an elaborate series of conditions that requires teamwork, and is difficult to perform (we did it – legit).
Counselors have to seek out items in cabins in order to repair a car/boat to make a fast(not so fast) getaway, fix the phones to call in the police or just to simply survive until time runs out. Counselors aren’t totally helpless though – They can pick up a variety of weapons to slug it out wiht Jason to stun him to help assist in getting away if even for a short time it can be effective in thwarting his attempts to kill you.
There are a a handful of different Jason has a variety of movies/specialties that he can use to his advantage like morphing, respawning and rage. All these powers allow for the slow lumbering Jason to still be effective in killing the counselors but at times he feels just a shade unbalanced which I guess isn’t the end of the world because Jason Vorhees is an unstoppable force of nature.
As players progress through the game they earn XP which levels them up and unlocks different counselors and versions of Jason. They Also earn CP which are points to be used to purchase new perks for the counselor such as starting the game with a map or walkie talkie or even special kills for Jason. These combinations should make for some interesting combos going forward.
What we actually have here is a slightly unfinished love letter to the series and horror movies of the 80s. I say unfinished love letter not because of the server problems(I think some proper stress testing via a total open beta could have made this less painful) I’m quite confident those will be corrected in short order. I say unfinished because this game is A TON of fun but it does lack a certain polish. Some of the animations are wonky and there’s a lack of content to be had with just 3 maps. That’s it. Also missing is an offline/single player mode though I’m hearing we should be seeing that sometime before the end of the year. It’s also something of a glitchy mess resulting in game crashes (server related?) poor collision and getting stuck on/in objects, in ability to use weapons glitches and really poor driving mechanics.
None of those things are to say this is a bad game. It’s really not. Not by a long shot in fact. Friday the 13th is hands down the most fun I’ve had in any MP game since Left 4 Dead. The game masterfully connects to the movies series with it’s atmosphere, characters, fashion, film grain and most importantly – the soundtrack. Imagine you’re sneaking around looking for keys to a car suddenly the familiar “Ki, ki, ki; ma, ma, ma” sound starts coming through your speakers. Jason is close. What do you do? Run? Hide? Stop moving? All of these are valid options to take but what’s the right one? It can freak you the hell out to the point that you’re actually whispering to your fellow counselors on the walkies. The game will also try to lure you out of your comfort zone by bringing the climactic music from the series to you for no reason sometimes. Each moment lifted from the movie series where the music builds to a crescendo and then disappears in a way that only Friday the 13th can do giving you a sense of temporary security. It becomes so tense all resulting in just an obscene amount of laughter and recounting of tales in the post game lobby.
With the amount of fun (despite the server/disconnect issues this weekend) I can’t say that this game is any less than a winner I just wish there more content at launch. Unless you’re buying it up on PC, I’d probably recommend you sit tight for another week or so and check to see where things are as far as bugs and server issues are then jump right in. If there’s any positive to be had from the server issues for me, it’s that I’ve become connected with some awesome people to play games with over the coming months and even years.
I give Friday the 13th: The game an 8 out of 10 purely based on all the laughs and fun we’ve been having.